An Examination of the Persuasive Argument in Favor of the Abolition of Music in China by Mo Tzu in Against Music

Category: China, Chinese Culture
Last Updated: 03 May 2023
Essay type: Persuasive
Pages: 3 Views: 147

BREAKING NEWS: one can no longer, as a citizen of the United States of America, own any Apple products. They must all be destroyed or the country will fall apart as we know it. This news would appear unreasonable and absurd to the world. However, the Chinese philosopher Mo Tzu makes a similar announcement in his piece "Against Music." He argues that music should be completely abolished in China circa 400 BC or the entire system will far apart (237). He sees no overall benefit to music and perceives it as a threat to society, due to the fact that only the rulers and ministers reap the benefits. His argument that music singlehandedly would have destroyed the Chinese infrastructure is a string of hasty generalizations that structurally maintain sound points; however, they are blown out of proportion to the point of illogicality which causes the reader to questions Mo Tzu's argument.

The first hasty generalization that surfaces is Mo Tzu's contrast between the people's needs and music. He states that music cannot ever aid their needs to be met and that without doing so, music becomes absolutely worthless (Mo Tzu 237). He reasons that music will never protect the weak from the strong. He goes on to say that music will in no way, "rescue the world from chaos and restore it to order" (Mo Tzu 238). This is just one example of Tzu intertwining generalities in order to persuade the reader to hate music. There are lots of things in society that in no way will help any of these problems, but does he argue that those things, for example food, should be eliminated? No. Tzu rapidly entangles the reader with the shortcomings of music in his mind, but when the reader steps back the flaws in his thinking are apparent. Tzu expands his argument beyond the rational threshold by throwing denunciations around wildly.

Tzu makes another lofty claim that farmers would be unable to put in a full work day and ultimately would have a dearth of food if they listen to music (Mo Tzu 239). He goes on to say the same about females and that would cause a scarcity of clothing (Mo Tzu 239). He also asserts that those in the position of gentlemen who like music will fail to fill the granaries and treasuries (Mo Tzu 239). Finally, the most absurd conclusion is that if the rulers and ministers enjoy music then the "state will fall into disorder and its altars of the soil and grain will be in danger" (Mo Tzu 239). In my mind, this is a stretch. All of the people's duties have been met even with music in their society. It is not as if they have not seen music yet and are debating on whether or not they should introduce it. Music had been around for a long time and the economy fails to crumble apart as Tzu pronounces it will. The rulers and ministers failing their duties in particular is irrational because they listen to music the most and seek after it, yet the state remains out of disorder.

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Mo Tzu does bring up some good points, such as the fact that the common people do not get to enjoy music like the upper class. However, the tone of his entire argument takes away from those points. The focus is shifted away from the logical shortcomings of music towards his broad fantasized downsides of music. Instead of arguing for broad ideas that have flaws he should have stuck to the solid provable problems with music. Religion, for example, could have all of the same disadvantages discussed. Tzu would never claim religion takes time away from everyone and would crash the society, but he makes a similar argument with music. There are everyday things in all civilizations that bring enlightenment and consume time, but they do not stop the world from progressing. He ultimately balloons clear, simple arguments and ruins their legitimacy.

Mo Tzu ruins the legitimacy of his piece directly in the eyes of the reader by making sweeping statements and jumping to unsound conclusions instead of sticking to the concrete problems of music. His claims are all over the place and are inadequate deductions. If Tzu stuck to the problematic relationship between the common people and music he would have been more persuasive. He proclaims his hasty generalizations boldly which causes his solid points to be overlooked. He overcomplicates the issue and it is unnecessary. Mo Tzu has apparent gaps in his thinking that need to be mended in order for his argument to be seriously taken into consideration.

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An Examination of the Persuasive Argument in Favor of the Abolition of Music in China by Mo Tzu in Against Music. (2023, May 01). Retrieved from

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