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Lecture8APartIIThe Unification of China

Lecture8APartIIThe Unification of China - Lecture 8A Part...

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Lecture 8A Part II: The Unification of China We move now from India to China, picking up where the last chapter on China left off. In response to the violence of the Warring States period philosophies emerged whose goal was to prevent further violence. These philosophies in some cases became the basis of unification in China. We learned a bit about these in our earlier lecture material on China, but I want to restate the basics of each philosophy now that we are in a position to actually see how Confucianism and Legalism specifically helped in order Chinese society and form the basis of centralized government. For those of you who still remember the earlier lecture on these philosophies this is a good basic review. The founder of the social and philosophical system known as Confucianism was Confucius, Kung Fuzi (551- 479 bce). He was an aristocratic from the Chinese state of Lu. He attempted to become influential at court, but his attitude did not endear him to court administrators. He spent his adult life traveling throughout Northern China attracting disciples who wanted to learn from him despite his own failure to achieve a prestigious position at a court. His pupils assembled his sayings in a book called The Analects of Confucius . Confucianism emphasizes the qualities of Ren —courtesy, loyalty, and diligence, Li -propriety, and xiao – filial piety. Only those who exercised self-control and cultivated the qualities were fit to rule and act as examples to the rest of society. Morality and ethic were the guiding principles of Confucianism. Respect for fathers, elders, and ones superiors was an important component in Confucian thought and played into the gender constructs of China. Confucianism remains a strong guiding principle in Chinese life. For more: http://www.religioustolerance.org/confuciu.htm http://www.sacred-texts.com/cfu/index.htm Another philosophy to emerge was Daoism . Daoists were highly critical of Confucius. Daoists did not think engagement in problems that had no solution, such as promoting good government and correcting social problems was useful. They preferred to withdraw into contemplation of natural principals of the universe. The Daodejing The way and virtue is the primary book associated with this philosophy. In this book the meaning of Dao is discussed. Basically, and in a very limited explanation, Dao is the way. It is the organizing force of the universe that flows through all things. Daoism promotes disengagement from the world, and a yielding and passive response to life. The moral virtue wie wu wei , action without action, should be cultivated. It is a way of living in harmony with Dao. Despite the differences between the two philosophies, many Confucians are Daoists who embrace the idea of self-reflection, passive existence, and yielding in the face of adversity. For more visit: http://www.daoism.net/ http://www.religioustolerance.org/taoism.htm And finally, Legalism emerged as a philosophy that sought to order society through state power. The reunification of China occurred through the efforts of
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the legalists, not the Daoists or Confucians.
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