If the differences in the milieus which foster distinct philosophies are kept in mind, a comparison of ideas drawn from widely separated eras and environments can be profitable to the student of political thought and institutions. Social and environmental changes, and even technological revolutions, have altered but have not displaced the fundamental and still largely unsolved problems of human adjustment. Many formulas considered as peculiarly modern had their counterpart in antiquity, and concepts regarded as typical of Western culture have frequently been encompassed in the thought of Eastern peoples. A case in point is offered by the utilitarian political creed, which, while most famous and influential in England during the nineteenth century, was partially anticipated in one of the philosophical schools of ancient China. Utilitarianism was understandably a suitable vehicle for eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English reformers, but it seems remarkable to find the principle expounded in tradition-bound China of the later Chou dynasty, when, as afterward, appeal to authority and reverence for the past were strongly embedded. Not only was a utilitarian concept vigorously and logically developed by the philosoher Mo Ti (approximately 468-382 B.C.), but his disciples constituted a flourishing school for more than a century after his death and were formidable competitors of the Confucianists. Mencius, the greatest exponent of Confucianism at the opening of the third century B.C., denounced as the two most dangerous heresies the extreme individualism of Yang Chu (fourth-century hedonistic anarchist) and the indiscriminate altruism of Mo Ti, both of which doctrines he regarded as tending to undermine social decorum and a proper respect for authority. The rivalry between Confucianists and the champions of Mo Ti took on the nature of a partisan conflict. On many fundamentals the two schools were not so utterly irreconcilable as the heat of controversy made it appear. Both appealed to the example of ancient sage-kings for justification; both accepted as a political norm a benevolent, paternalistic system with power and initiative descending from above, although Mo's conceptions were more authoritarian and theocratic than those of the Confucians; both regarded politics and ethics as synonymous and believed that the creation of the good society would go hand in hand with the improvement of the individual's moral character. They shared the common ground of a logical, matter-of-fact approach to human problems, in contrast to the mysticism of the Taoists. Nevertheless, the Confucianists campaigned uncompromisingly against their rivals and finally won such a complete victory that Mo Ti's influence was extinguished and his teachings remained almost unknown for some 2,000 years.

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