Saturday, February 9, 2013

Great Quotes from History: Ancient Chinese Edition

I am currently reading Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.  The following quote, from the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi (whose philosophy Mohism was a competitor of Confucianism), really struck me:

"To kill one man is to be guilty of a capital crime, to kill ten men is to increase the guilt ten-fold, to kill a hundred men is to increase it a hundred-fold.  This the rulers of the earth all recognize, and yet when it comes to the greatest crime--waging war on another state--they praise it!...

If a man on seeing a little black were to say it is black, but on seeing a lot of black were to say it is white, it would be clear that such a man could not distinguish black and white....So those who recognize a small crime as such, but do not recognize the wickedness of the greatest crime of all--the waging of war on another state--cannot distinguish right and wrong."

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