Ancient China

Topics: China, Han Dynasty, Chinese philosophy Pages: 8 (980 words) Published: May 10, 2015
Pre-Axial Chinese Religion
Did not develop religion as a separate realm of human concern Rites, rituals, ethics that bound the Chinese people were cultural phenomena (daily routine) Chinese approach toward ultimate reality stressed NATURE

No clear creator outside nature
Chinese thought always emphasized people (family and community) Peasant Heritage
Numerous festivals timed by agricultural calendar
Politically: single empire; emperor until 1911
Language diversity (Mandarin in north and Cantonese in the south) Natural disasters: floods, earthquakes, famines, epidemics)
Invasions: Mongols and Manchus
Reverence of ancestors
Axial Age: Six Schools
Period of Warring States
Divination (Yin-Yang; Feng-Shui)
School of Names

Chinese Syncretism: Confucian by day, Daoist by night
The Nature of the Cosmic Order
Nature of the cosmos and the role of humans within it: wide-ranging debates Universe is divided into 2 primary forces: opposed but complementary
Yin: Shadow, passive, docile, gentle
Yang: Sunshine, vigorous, hard, hot
Interaction of these 2 forces brings change
Herbal medicine and acupuncture

Yin = darkness, cold, female (death) 2 shorter lines
Yang = light, heat, male (life) single unbroken line

Union of complementary basic forces
Role of culture = preserve balance
Emphasized in everything, from cooking to art
Proper balance = proper relationship
Yin and Yang: Representation of celestial phenomena
Book of Changes: I Ching
Everything in the universe is governed by the principles of yin and yang 8 trigrams: images of all that happened on earth and in heaven I Ching
Oldest of the Chinese classics
System of philosophy and cosmology
Dynamic balance of opposing forces
Acceptance of the inevitability of change
64 Line arrangements that explain the nature of human endeavors Confucianism
Confucius (551-479 B.C.E.)
Interest is politics and ethics
If humans act harmoniously in accordance with the universe, all affairs will prosper Dao (The Way)
Rule by merit

Ideal person: junzi
Li: Manners (relationships)
Ren: humanity or benevolence
Improvement of society: responsibility of the ruler

If we do not understand life, how can we understand death?

Ancient Philosophy

Mencius (370-29- B.C.E.)
Human beings are by nature good
Ruler’s duty is to rule by compassion
Responsible monarchy
Daoism: Zuangzi, Lao Zi
Dao De Jing (The Way of the Tao)
Proper forms for human behavior
Nature takes its course

Religion or philosophy?

Do not honor the worthy, and people will not compete
Do not value rare treasures, and people will not steal

Human beings are by nature evil and follow the correct path only if coerced by harsh laws and stiff penalties Only firm action by the state can bring social order
Shang China

The Dawn of Chinese Civilization
Land and People
Civilization in the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers
Importance of geography
At least 8 different ecosystems
ranging from semi-tropical (5 ft rain/yr) to desert-like northwest Neolithic Settlements
Before 5000 BCE
Archeological evidence
Rice, lotus, millet, wheat
Domesticated dogs, pigs, cattle
Geometric designs on pottery
Oracle bones

The Dawn of Chinese Civilization
Well-organized political systems and dynatic rule began with the Xia (Hsia) dynasty

Founded by Yu, who introduced irrigation and drainage

Shang dynasty, c. 16th century B.C.E.
The Shang Dynasty
Predominantly agricultural society
Ruled by aristocratic class of warriors
Used two-horse chariots
Central monarch
Territorial control not extensive
Territories governed by aristocratic bureaucracy
King intermediary between heaven and earth

Social Structures
Bronze casting
Burial mounds

Writing system: pictographs
Writing on bones

The Zhou Dynasty (1027-221 B.C.E.)
Political Structures
Political system similar to Shang dynasty
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