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Chinese Civilization. Institutions, World Views, and Significance, 2205 B. C. E. - 1644. Generalizations About Chinese Civilization. Powerful Central Authority—emperor Veneration of Ancestors Beginning w/ Han Dynast, Confucianism is official governing philosophy

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chinese civilization

Chinese Civilization

Institutions, World Views, and Significance, 2205 B. C. E. - 1644

generalizations about chinese civilization
Generalizations About Chinese Civilization
  • Powerful Central Authority—emperor
  • Veneration of Ancestors
  • Beginning w/ Han Dynast, Confucianism is official governing philosophy
  • Chinese citizens mix Confucian beliefs with Taoism
  • Perennial problems—food production, invasion, and internal strife
cradle of chinese civilization
Cradle of Chinese Civilization
  • Huang Ho (Yellow River) is cradle of civilization—also termed River of Sorrows—its floods destroy even as they give livelihood.
  • Millet cultivation; stone tools; emergent urbanization.
  • Three cultural heroes: Fu Hsi—invented writing; Shen Nung—farming and commerce; Yellow Emperor—government and Taoism
sage kings 2350 2200
Sage Kings 2350-2200
  • May not have been historical but were seen as especially virtuous
  • Perceived pattern in Chinese history—wise rule and order followed by period of moral laxity, decline, decadence, and disorder
  • Chinese history would emphasize public virtue—obedience to a wise emperor
shang dynasty 1766 1050
Shang Dynasty—1766-1050
  • First “historical” dynasty.
  • Development of Writing
  • Bronze age civilization along Huang Ho
  • Reading of oracle bones
  • Emergence of “T’ien” concept—heaven—where God and ancestors dwelled.
chou dynasty 1050 221 b c e
Chou Dynasty—1050-221 B. C. E.
  • Development of “T’ien Ming” or Mandate of Heaven
  • Myth of Legitimacy—how to justify overthrowing of Shang
  • Central authority weakened in “Spring and Autumn” periods—771-401 b. c. e.—and collapse of order in Period of Warring States—401-256 B. C. E.
  • Ironic contribution of Chou dynasty was providing incentive to develop classical philosophy in China.
classical chinese philosphy
Classical Chinese Philosphy
  • Confucianism
  • Taoism
  • Legalism
  • K’ung Fu-tzu (Confucius) 551 B. C. E.-479 B. C. E.
  • Public order comes from “jen” or humane behavior between people.
  • Superiors should govern well
  • Inferiors should obey
  • Shu—reciprocity and chung—doing one’s best
sayings from the analects 1
Sayings from the Analects: 1
  • Fan-ch'ih asked about jen. The Master said, "It is to love all men." He asked about knowledge. "It is to know all men." Fan ch'ih did not immediately understand these answers. The Master said, "Employ the upright and put aside all the crooked; in this way, the crooked can be made to be upright."
  • Tzu-kung asked, saying, "Is there one world which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."
sayings from the analects 2
Sayings from the Analects: 2
  • The Master said, "With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow; I still have joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by inhumanity are to me as a floating cloud."
  • The Master said, "The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of humanity. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their humanity."
  • The Master said, "The superior man in everything considers righteousness to be essential. He performs it according to the rules of propriety (li ). He brings it forth in humility. He completes it with sincerity. This is indeed a superior man."
  • The Master said, "The object of the superior man is truth, not food. . . . The superior man is anxious lest he should not get truth; he is not anxious lest poverty should come upon him."
social order and confucius
Social Order and Confucius
  • Rule of reciprocity promoted both order and disorder—presumably an evil ruler or an ineffective husband could be disobeyed.
  • See Ban Zhao, Lessons for a Woman
  • She accepts some subservience and humility but also believes in the balance of Yin/Yang—not the dominance of Yang
  • Based on ideas of Lao Tzu
  • Tao—the way of heaven—unity
  • Balance of yang (maleness—cold, heaven) and yin (femaleness, warm, earth)
  • Government should guide people, not rule them.
  • Founded by Hsun Tzu (298-238 B. C. E.)
  • People are evil and must be controlled through harsh laws.
  • Reward good deeds, punish bad deeds severely.
  • Utilitarianism—meant that government would encourage agriculture over other pursuits
  • Rule of Law—law is supreme—and law is standard in entire real (two ideas that persist in Chinese state)
chi n dynasty 221 206 b c e
Chi’n Dynasty (221-206 B. C. E.)
  • Officially legalist
  • Standardized form of govt.
  • Ended period of warring states
  • Began Great Wall of China
  • Extended China’s boundaries to the south
han dynasty 202 b c e 220 c e
Han Dynasty ( 202 B. C. E. -220 C. E.
  • Officially Confucian
  • Scholar bureaucrats educated in Confucian classics govern china on a day to day basis.
  • Han Wu Ti (r. 141-86) extended China from Korea to Vietnam
  • Wang Mang (9-23) overthrew corrupt Han but was soon ousted by peasants who were then ousted by the nobles.
  • Conquests of later Han opened up the Silk Roads to Mediterranean
t ang dynasty 618 907
T’ang Dynasty (618-907)
  • Followed Three Kingdoms Period (220-589) and Sui Dynasty (589-618)
  • Chinese government recentralized under emperor and three key ministers (but local landlords retained a great deal of power).
  • Empress Wu (684-705) relied on Confucian bureaucrats and used military to extend boundaries of China.
  • Her own Buddhist beliefs added Buddhist tradition to China.
  • Great cosmopolitan cultural flowering facilitated with contracts from Asia and even Europe
sung 960 1279
Sung (960-1279)
  • Emperor’s power restored
  • Confucian bureaucrats pre-eminent
  • Wang An-shih (1068-85)—new laws—maximum prices on grain; tax equity; non-nobles could take Confucian exams. (Greatest example of Confucian Scholar Bureaucrat)
  • Neo-Confucianism
yuan dynasty 1280 1386
Yuan Dynasty (1280-1386)
  • Established by descendants of Genghis Khan.
  • Mongols ruled through Chinese Scholar Bureaucrats
  • Paper currency
  • Trade w/ Europe—Marco Polo (1275-1292)
  • Pax Sinatica
ming 1369 1644
Ming (1369-1644)
  • Chinese cultural superiority
  • Great porcelain ware
  • Later Ming rulers were decadent and China began to lose its cultural superiority.
  • Confucianism becomes rigid and less a guide to practical and effective governing.