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Chinese Philosophies & Ethical Codes - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Chinese Philosophies & Ethical Codes. Bell Work: Who gives our leaders their authority?. Mandate of Heaven. It was understood that Chinese rulers got their authority to rule straight from the gods (Heaven) If things went well… the gods felt the emperor was doing a good job!.

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Ethical Codes

Bell Work: Who gives our leaders their authority?

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Mandate of Heaven

  • It was understood that Chinese rulers got their authority to rule straight from the gods (Heaven)

  • If things went well… the gods felt the emperor was doing a good job!

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How could a ruler LOSE his “mandate of heaven?”

  • If things went poorly… and it didn’t even have to be his fault!

  • Like invasions, lost wars, bad harvests, even natural disasters like earthquakes or droughts!

  • If that happened it was understood that the ruler had lost his mandate from heaven!

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3 Chinese Philosophies

  • Remember all the wars during the Zhou dynasty?

  • Chinese philosophers tried to add some stability amid all the chaos!

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Kong Fu Zi

551 – 479 B.C.E.

Became a teacher and editor of books.

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Major Confucian Principles

Involves Human Relationships and Responsibilities

The Fathersets a good example and cares for his children.

The Children must respect and obey the father

The father takes the CREDIT and also the BLAME for his children’s actions

Filial Piety (Respect your elders!)

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How does that apply to governments?

  • The ruler is like the father

  • The people are like the children

    If the ruler sets a good example and takes care of his people, the people owe the ruler their respect and obedience!

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Rules for society

  • The Group is more important than the individual

  • Educationbecame very important

  • “By nature, men are pretty much alike. It is learning and practice that set them apart”

    • Confucius

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Sayings from The Analects

  • Knowing what he knows and knowing what he doesn’t know, is characteristics of the person who knows.

  • Making a mistake and not correcting it, is making another mistake.

  • The superior man blames himself; the inferior man blames others.

  • To go too far is as wrong as to fall short.

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Han Fei

  • 280? - 233 B.C.E.

  • Han Fe Zi.

  • Lived during the late Warring States period.

  • Legalism became the political philosophy of the Qin [Ch’in] Dynasty.

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Major Legalist Principles

1. Human nature is naturally selfish.

2.Intellectualism and literacy isdiscouraged.

3.Law is the supreme authority andreplaces morality.

4. The ruler must rule with a strong,punishing hand.

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Lao Zi [Lao-Tzu]

  • Not sure when he died. [604 B.C.E. - ?]

  • His name means “Old Master”

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Major Daoist Principles

1.Dao [Tao] “ the way” Everyone has their special “way” and nobody should tell them what that is.

2. A believer’s goal is to become one with Dao; who you are.

“People should not be told how to act anymore than a fish should be told how to swim.”

3. Man is unhappy because he lives according to man-made laws, customs, & traditions that are contrary to the ways of nature.

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The "Dao" [Tao]

Toescape the “social, political, & cultural traps” of life, one must escape by:

1. Rejecting formal knowledge and learning.

2. Relying on the senses and instincts.

3. Discovering the nature and “rhythm” of the universe.

4. Ignoring political and social laws.

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The Universe of Opposites:

Find the Balance!


  • Masculine

  • Active

  • Light

  • Warmth

  • Strong

  • Heaven; Sun

  • Feminine

  • Passive

  • Darkness

  • Cold

  • Weak

  • Earth; Moon


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  • Examining the energy that exists within us!

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Feng Shui

  • Examining the energy that flows through our surroundings!

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The Uniqueness of Daoism

How is a man to live in a world dominated by chaos, suffering, and absurdity??

Confucianism --> Moral order in society.

Legalism --> Rule by harsh law & order.

Daoism --> Freedom for individuals and less govt. to avoid uniformity and conformity.

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What about Buddhism?

  • Remember, Buddhism accepts other philosophies, SO…

  • People could believe in Confucianism and Daoism, while also practicing Buddhism!

  • Many people in China live their lives using principles from Buddhism and all three Chinese Schools of Thought (Philosophies).