ch05 - Chapter 5 Unification and the Consolidation of...

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Chapter 5 Unification and the Consolidation of Civilization in China Chapter Summary. The Zhou dynasty in the 8th century B.C.E. lost control of its vassals. Internal political disorder was increased by nomadic pressure. The unstable times eventually led to the emergence of a more complex classical society. Political stabilization began in the 3rd century B.C.E. with the victories of Shi Huangdi of the Qin dynasty. Unwise policies by the Qin rulers caused revolts ending with the emergence of the Han dynasty in 207 B.C.E. The Han, ruling over 400 years, reestablished and expanded the extent of Chinese civilization and created an lasting sense of Chinese identity. They founded an enduring bureaucracy whose members, the shi, were a major influence on social and cultural development. Philosophical Remedies for the Prolonged Crisis of the Later Zhou . The continuing disorder marking the decline of the Zhou dynasty prompted debate over appropriate remedies. The warfare awarded societal value to military skills and depressed the worth of the shi. Aristocratic power grew while the shi fell to minor occupations. Rituals and court etiquette were replaced by rough nomadic manners. Warfare consumed state resources and public works, including dikes and canals, were ruined. Peasants were taxed heavily and conscripted into the military. The need for military materials stimulated commerce, helping the growth of a prosperous merchant class with an important role in society. By the end of the Zhou period China supported larger urban centers than any other contemporary civilization. Confucius and the Restoration of the Shi. By the 5th century B.C.E. thinkers, including Confucius, sought ways to create a stable society and political structure. Confucius, a member of a poor shi family, became a traveling teacher whose political and philosophical ideas attracted followers. He was a social philosopher concerned with the need to reestablish order and harmony in China; he thought that achieving order depended upon rulers accepting the advice of superior men - women were excluded - who were awarded power because of their moral excellence. Such men, recruited from the shi, gained wisdom through education and, in principle, could be from any social class. Confucian Thought and Social Ideals . Confucius thought that superior men should rule to serve the interests and welfare of the entire society. In return the common people should respect and support their ruler’s superior status. Social harmony depended upon everyone accepting their social place and performing its required tasks. Society was held together by personal ties of loyalty and obedience that made state intervention minimal. The Confucian Gentleman.
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ch05 - Chapter 5 Unification and the Consolidation of...

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