It is very interesting to see that Confucius and Aristotle use similar ethical concepts. By the dog! We could think they were in contact. The main Nicomachean Ethics principle is the Mean or the Intermediate and one of the Confucianism Four Classics is, besides the Analects, Mencius, the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean expressing the same idea as Aristotle’s does. The Mean is what society values most, as much by praising as by pricing it and does it so by comparing and refusing the extremes.
Likewise, Confucius (Analects) and Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics) distinguish two types of justice. A human justice or fairness, equity, based on putting yourself in other people’s shoes and basis of the Golden and Silver rules: treat others as you would like to be treated and don’t do to others what you would not like other´s do to you. Then we have another type of justice, legal justice, which is distributive and meant to establish hierarchy, ranks. This justice discriminates people hierarchically like husband and wife, elder or younger brother, leader or subjects.
Mozi raised his voice against the Confucian system which supports a few people enjoying everything and having everybody else at their disposal while the majority have it difficult to live and stays at those few people’s mercy and at their service. Mozi also pointed out that the way to solve this discrimination and inequality is universality so that we can use common sense, rational criteria. Mozi explains well that “the cause of the world calamities is partial or exclusive decision making”. Confucius actually would agree with that part, but Mencius, a later Confucius follower would respond Mozi that it could not be “a society without a state”.
Indeed Mozi´s universality could not be put in place because universality or inclusive decision making was impossible in an unknown world, incommunicado and full of unknown people. However, that ideal has become nowadays possible.
It is amazing again that we can see at the beginning of the Nicomachean Ethics when Aristotle criticizes previous ethical proposals, he includes the “universal good” of his master Plato. Aristotle says that the “universal good”, is not real because everything real has one before and one after, something the “universal good” does not have. Indeed, inclusive decision making was an idea, even the Will of Heaven, as Mozi says, but nothing real until our time. Now we can make universal proposals, meant for benefiting humanity, and such a proposal can be bettered by different persons so that we see how the ‘universal good’ can have one before and one after.
In the XVIII and XIX centuries, the world was fully discovered and thus some intended to achieve peace or universalization. So was the case of the abbey of Saint Pierre who proposed a Confederation of European states in order to decide everything by arbitration instead of by waging wars. The benefits for everyone, including the kings and high officials, would have been immense, but nobody paid attention to the abbey even if he was so convinced that he tried as hard as he could. Some years later Rousseau was asked why the abbey did not success and Rousseau answered that hierarchy and war are the same so it was not possible for those officials to consider something which could not make sense for their identity and business.
Rousseau went to say that state officials wage war as much to the enemies as to the subjects. We can link Rousseau’s words to Aristotle’s idea of two forms of justice. Aristotle says that human justice or fairness is based on transparency and freedom so as when you sign a contract, you first read it, understand it and then you sign it if you want to. And it is the same if you sign a loan or a mortgage and so on. For this, you do not need any official because this kind of justice is solved just by any person, as Sancho would do in his government on the Barataria Insula.
At this point, we have to further inquire about this legal or hierarchical justice relation with waging war. Since war is about to harm the enemy, you need to deceive him, or, at least, you cannot let him know your purposes since, otherwise, he would take countermeasures and you would be self-defeating yourself. In the same way, the leader cannot disclose his purposes to his subjects, they have to trust him, give him their freedom and lives, and this is the situation we have to face now. Stopping partial decision making and implementing universal decision making or peace is within our reach since we all are interconnected and know the limits of the world and the people in it, but we still have to solve the obstacle of deception and its consequence; mistrust.
But everything was seen and foreseen. The final chapter of Kant´s Perpetual Peace proposal, the Appendix II, titled “On the harmony between politics and moral according to the transcendental concept of public right”, can be resumed this way: If we take away every content from the law and we keep only its form, this is publicity. Now, if a proposal cannot be published because it will harm someone’s interests and, knowing about it, he will take measures against it we have proof of the proposal unfairness. And Kant adds; it does mean that to be able to publish your purpose means it to be fair because if the one publishing it has overwhelming power, he does not need to care about the opposition it might cause on others he is not afraid of.
But, finally, Kant says that we have the transcendental concept of public right, the one able to harmonize politics and moral and he puts it this way: “if a proposal stand only in need of publicity to achieve its aim, it means that it agrees as much with morality as with politics”, “because it is in agreement with the universal public aim which is happiness and this is the task of politics”.
Indeed, we apply to that principle calling for an open and transparent Congress on human unity as we have already proposed to the Madrid City Hall and we are waiting now for an answer. Our public and universal proposal is as follows: let’s adopt an inclusive decision-making system (human unity) so that in this way we will only think about how to benefit us all instead of basically think about how to harm others as the consequence of partial decision making.
‘Inclusive’ means that all proposals are open and transparent as the one above, this is, that the purpose´s end or aim is exposed so that each person is able to better it or tell if she finds something inadequate in it or simply accepts it as her own purpose, as we expect it to universally happen with the previous proposal basis of all others, as also with the call for the Congress so that we are proposing it one to another and all together.