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Lecture | China Seminar

Mohist Forms of Argument in Ancient China: Influences and Evaluations

8 May 2019
China Seminar
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden


The ancient and variegated lineages of Mohist thought (墨家) in Warring States China developed and analysed a number of different strategies of argument, including "parallelism" (), "pulling" () and "pushing" () in their confrontations with other "schools."  The Mohists themselves seemed to have had qualified confidence in these forms of argument, maintaining that they could be used correctly to evaluate the factual and moral correctness of competing maxims () but also acknowledging the limitations of each when used individually and in concert.  The argument strategies appear to have been widely influential, used as they were by Confucian, proto-"Daoist" and "School of Names" texts, but met with quite different evaluations in them, both positive and negative.  This presentation will examine the use and assessment of these various argument strategies among early Chinese thinkers in order to demonstrate that at least some forms of formalised argument were both widely recognised and differently reflected upon in early Chinese thought.

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