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The Unification of China
Mr. Schabo A.P. World History Crestwood High School
Confucius Confucius is China’s best known philosopher.
He was born in about 551B.C. The disorder and suffering caused by constant warfare disturbed Confucius. He developed ideas about how to restore peace and ensure harmony.
Confucius Traveled Confucius visited the courts of various princes, hoping to convince them to put his ideas into practice. Disappointed by the princes refusals, he returned home, where he taught a small but loyal group of followers. After his death, his followers collected his teachings in the Analects.
Confucius’s Five Relationships
To restore order, Confucius taught that five relationships must govern human society. They are: 1.) the relationship between ruler & ruled 2.) the relationship between father & son 3.) the relationship between older brother & younger brother 4.) the relationship between husband & wife 5.) the relationship between friend & friend
Confucius Said: In all but the last relationship (friend & friend), one person has authority over another. In each, said Confucius, the superior person should set an example for the inferior one. “If a ruler himself is upright, all will go well without orders. But if he himself is not upright, even though he gives orders, they will not be obeyed.” According to Confucius, the superior person is also responsible for the well-being of the inferior person.
Confucius and the Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven- The Chinese believed that heaven granted a ruler the mandate, or right, to rule. The people, in turn, owed the ruler complete loyalty and obedience. Confucius supported the Mandate of Heaven. He said that the ruler must provide good government for his subjects. The rulers subjects, in turn, owed the ruler loyalty and obedience.
The Influence of Confucius
Confucius created a guide to proper behavior based on ethical, or moral, principles. In his teachings, he placed the family and the good of society above the interests of the individual. He called this respect for the family filial piety. He also stressed loyalty, courtesy, hard work, and service. He placed great emphasis on education. He said: “By nature, men are pretty much alike. It is learning and practice that set them apart.”
Confucian Legacy The importance of education, as well as other Confucian ideas, helped shape Chinese government. Bureaucracy – a trained civil service, or people who run the government – developed In time, Confucian ideas came to dominate Chinese society. As China expanded across Asia, Confucianism influenced the cultures of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam as well.
Daoism Like Confucius, the philosopher Lao Zi studied human society. He, too, searched for ways to establish an orderly society. Lao Zi, the founder of Daoism, however emphasized the link between people and nature rather than the importance of proper behavior. Said that a mystical force called the Dao (the way) guides all things and keeps life in a natural order. Of all earth’s creatures, only humans fail to follow the Dao, causing strife. Scholars know little about Lao Zi, but that his thoughts are contained in the book The Way of Virtue.
Lao Zi For centuries, Chinese artists have depicted Lao Zi as a kindly sage who embodies the ideal heart of Daoism. Focus on understanding nature led many Daoists to become scientists, contributing to the understanding of alchemy, astronomy and medicine. Lao Zi advised: “Reveal thy simple self, embrace thy original nature, check thy selfishness, curtail thy desires.”
Legalism A third school of thought that shaped China’s early history is Legalism. The most famous Legalist writer was Han Feizi. It is unknown when he was born, but he died in 233 B.C. In his book, of the same name, Han Feizi, rejected Confucian ideas about proper behavior. Han Feizi believed that people acted out of self-interest and would only respond to rewards and punishments, not good examples.
Self-interest Because of self-interest, Legalists believed that only harsh laws imposed by a strong ruler would ensure order. Han Feizi noted: “The ruler alone possesses power, wielding it like lightning or like thunder.” In 221 B.C., the Qin emperor Shi Huangdi used Legalist ideas to unite China.
Legacy of Legalism Many feudal rulers of China like Chin Shi Huang Di chose Legalism as the most effective way to keep order. Shi’s laws were so cruel that later generations despised Legalism. Yet, Legalist ideas survived in laws that forced people to work on government projects and punished those who slacked from their duties.
I-Ching The I Ching was a book of oracles (predictions) that helped with daily life. People have a problem Throw a set of coins Interpret results – results tell you which prediction to use to handle problem Have a happy life
Yin Yang Represents powers representing natural rhythms or forces in life Yin – cold, dark, soft, mysterious Yang – Warm, bright, hard, clear Both yin and yang exist in all things and situations, both struggling against each other and complementing each other until balance is achieved.
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