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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

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

Erica Fox Brindley

University of Hawai'i Press

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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