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Individualism in Early ChinaHuman Agency and the Self in Thought and Politics$
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Erica Fox Brindley

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833862

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833862.001.0001

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Individual Agency and Universal, Centralized Authority in Early Mohist Writings

Individual Agency and Universal, Centralized Authority in Early Mohist Writings

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter One Individual Agency and Universal, Centralized Authority in Early Mohist Writings
Source:
Individualism in Early China
Author(s):

Erica Fox Brindley

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824833862.003.0001

This chapter examines the early Mohist rhetoric on upward conformity to ascertain their views on the limits and parameters of individual agency and autonomous decision-making powers. By exploring what underlies this rhetoric—rooted so deeply in a religious belief about the nature of Heaven's interactions with man—it shows how such rhetoric goes hand in hand with encompassing views on individual self-determination and meritocratic government policies. The rhetoric of upward conformity advocates universal and uniform allegiance to a single higher power—mediated through a political hierarchy. This differs from the views expressed in the Ru (Confucian) circles of the day, which, while ultimately extolling the Dao and Heaven's authority, also allocated a considerable amount of power to cultural forms and moral persons both inside and outside of government service.

Keywords:   Mohist rhetoric, upward conformity, individual agency, religious belief, heaven, self-determination, individualism, political hierarchy

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