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Chinese Civilization, Part One

By Michael Johnathan McDonald
 

Far Eastern Civilization: Part One Chinese Civilization

 

 

Updated 02/19/04; updated 02/01/2010

 

Chinese civilization is different from western civilization, because were dealing with one very distinct civilization. Western Civilization has many different cultures and peoples whereas Chinese history is more a homogeneous civilization. Yet, this appears to be subject to the quantity of sources yet to be transliterated, analyzed and presented to the academic community. Within regional areas diversity of thought, and local ethnicities did play a part to state constructions and the same lines as did the western civilizations. As far as the first civilization, the Chinese were not the earliest, but they were the earliest and most powerful group in East Asia.  Also, in general, China never went through any grand dark ages like the west ( Greek dark age and Roman dark ages);  they had a few slow periods but not as immense in scope as the west's total collapse of civilizations�.

 

Civilization (See definition) began in Modern Iraq and Egypt about 3100 BC during what is called the Urban Revolution. China�s civilization began about 2200 BC. Shortly before WWII archeologist in China uncovered a skull and what became known as the Peking Man has a wide date range from 1,000,000- 2,200 BC.

 

Early on China influenced Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, and Japan. The settlers most likely came up the south-eastern rout into the fertile eastern plains of China.

 

General:

        China had 11 major dynastic periods and two periods of different regimes.

 

 

1.      Xia: ( 2200-1750 BC) Legendary dynasty of idealized emperors who were paragons of virtue and wisdom, venerated as the inventors of many aspects of Chinese culture.

2.      Shang: ( 1100-256 BC) First historical dynasty; foreign invaders from the north who established themselves in the Yellow River plain, expanded throughout northern China, maintains power through shamanism. IN the 12th Century their power eclipsed by a nearby tribe.

3.      Zhou: (1100-256 BC) Long reign, nearly a thousand years. Chinese culture spreads from north southwest to the Yangtze Valley. Feudal decentralization of power, started under Shang, continues, bringing on a period of chaos, violence. The great Chinese philosophies emerge during the last three to four hundred years of Zhou rule. Troubles are resolved when a new dynasty emerges.

4.      Qin (156-210 BC) Very short lived but enormously important period because it is the first dynasty to conquer all other states, achieving full supremacy by 221 BC. It imposes on all China a non-feudal, bureaucratic centralized form of government (which lasted until 1912).

 

China looks at its self from pre Shang times as the Middle Kingdom ( to the world) ; being the most civilized, moral, ethical and everything you can think of;  compared to people living around them. One of the great things Chinese historians have done was to meticulously record everything down about their histories. Each dynasty had its own appointed historians, usually hired official historians to record events, and two of the greatest Chinese historians to record are Ssa Ma-chien and Pan-ku.  Twenty-five dynastic histories are in the nature of vast chronicles. They been estimated to contain twenty million different Chinese characters - - the equivalent of about fifty million words. Consequently, their sheer size alone has allowed no more than only a few parts to be translated into other languages.

 

Far East�s Beginnings

 

When hunters and gathers came up the South � East boarder of Asia�s mainland they inhabited the heartland ( fertile plains) where China produces most of its food, even today. There is much fertile land in China, being so vast a country, yet the area referred to is between the two major arteries of water that bring life to inner China. The Yellow River ( Chinese name goes here) and the ( Other name goes here). As pre-dynastic wanders settle some migrated north to the grassy plains of modern day Mongolia. Mongolia is a virtual term for people from this region that has taken on a name in history meaning �people from the [far] east.� These people naturally moved away from farming and agriculture and instead became headers of wild animals and were the first ones to incorporate the Horse into almost mythical and real life significance for their own culture and survival. They ate them, road them, and bread them, and milked them ( the mares); also, they made horse cheese out of the milk and even in times of fighting a local war or later on in history the Mongols expansion across vast world territories, they would slit a horses veins and drink some of their blood for immediately needed nourishment.  The manure was also sued for fire and for instillation during the colder months of the year. This rough living hardened them. They also herded goats, as well.

 

Agricultural climate north of Yangtze River ( Yellow River) was ideal to grow wheat and millet. While the more raining and swampy lands south were ideal for the razing of rice grains.

 

The wanders and gathers who decided to stay on the fertile plains became farmers, fisherman, and lived an easier lifestyle than the Mongolian area Chinese. Villages had no central government and the politics were left to the people to decide. Eventually spiritualism took its place and emerging from wanderers, hunters and gathers certain people who claimed to speak to the spirit people emerged as a control device, in some eyes. This also took place in the Mongolian region possibly simultaneously.

 

People who had migrated north from the fertile plains were also a people who decided to migrate west to the Sheswan (Sp.) elevated plains. This was also a fertile plains and began to settle to a life that also involved the spirit world advisors that seemed to take control of the people as the first forms of government. For example, by accident in Sichuan, people found many elephant tusks buried together and a bronze tree about 10 plus high that had blossoms on it and many intricate masks that had contorted angry facial expressions with coke-can looking ! pupil (eyes Sp.) that may have been a device to scare the natives into submission if were place the religious class of shamanism in the owners of these masks place. This was dreadful art forms discussed further on down.

 

Xia: ( 2200-1750 BC) Legendary dynasty of idealized emperors were possibly somewhat equivalent to the western gods of Persian, Samaria, Egypt and Greek mythology. They began the creation of many of the Chinese cultural aspects that are still adhered today. No one knows for sure if this mythical first dynasty was, in fact, a reality or was made up by the historians a long time ago. There has been no evidence uncovered of yet, but this does not mean that they were not a real people.

 

These were ideal rulers and are considered the mythological period of Chinese history. They invented things and were of the utmost morality: writing, agriculture, morality laws. If and when the archeologists find out the real Xia dynasty they may find its ideals less than what was written.

 

c. 1750 BC a Mongolian group came from the north and took over the fertile plains subjugating the farmers and fisherman (peasants) to their rule. Archeologist have deemed that this may not have been a military struggle as much as just aggressive people who lived a hard life who told their sisters and brothers ( still related people) that they were better than they were and thus they should rule over them. The peaceful farmers and fisherman�s were no match to the expert horse riders who could if they wanted to take the villages by force.

 

Shang as they called themselves set up provisional control through their own siblings and took to the task of controlling the peasants through what is commonly known as Shamanism: The belief that these people can talk to the spirit world through various methods. The history of why this could come about can go back to similarities in the western civilization of cave man, during their own hunting and gathering days as using what is called sympathetic magic.

 

During the time of hunters and gathers many things spooked the Stone Age man into believing in the supernatural.  Things that went bump in the night, to strange noises that could not be explained were all equated with the spirit world. In fact, almost everything that was seen in the physical had a spiritual counterpart. Thus, names were given and after a while competition to who could best foretell the future on basic observation became not only a casual pastime, but a heated competitory profession that moved upward in importance of life to become the most dominate feature in early China  controlling crowds, in this case controlling villages ( Multiple tribes). This certainly parallels early Sumerian beginnings, but not Egypt as they seemed to do this particular cycle backwards ( See early Egypt�s political progression).

 

Then when the Mongolians came down showing their superior strength breed out of years of tough living they decided to control the fertile land people by claiming they could better foretell the future and read the spirits. This was key. The Shang�s simple told the peasants that they could communicate with the spirit world far advanced then any of them could, thus they had to form the top controlling force. For example, early on China seemed to have learned metallurgy. Copper in particular. How to find it, sift out all the impurities, mix it with other ingredients and then cast it into, copper then later bronze. In these vessels, now made to hold everything from meat grounds to wine and soup the told the peasants that only they knew the correct way to boil the meat, cook the soup, pour out the wine in the correct procedure that the spirits liked. In this rituals were born that will later lead to modern day rituals that every great civilization has embedded into their religious system.

 

Although the good side of religion has done its part in uniting vast diverse peoples into one coherent unit in which to conduct the necessary jobs needed to run a functioning Civilization.

 

Animism as it is called is the belief in the existence of individual spirits that inhabit natural objects and phenomena. As the Shang imposed themselves as religious leaders the worship practices continued to expand. Thus, the ancient to modern practice of ancestral worship is the most popular form of spiritual worship. Out of this came the defining attributes of the Chinese family unity.

 

a.      Family solidarity is fiercely practiced

b.      Pictures of gamma and grandpa are displayed on alters

c.      Food and gifts are displayed on alters for the spirits

d.      Even some people bow their heads for their ancestors in this ritual.

 

This all started before the Shang period, but as they took over and recently after it became widespread.

 

Folk Medicine was also introduced. For example, some people may go to a Chinese medicine shop and find that they try to sell you glue to cure arthritic joints from boiled donkey foot. It may only have a medicinal placebo effect, yet many in the culture swear by the medicine man. This could imply a very superstitious people.

 

For the universal belief, this is much easier to recognize. The Yin vs. the Yang. In Chinese mythology and belief systems absolutely everything in the universe can be divided up and placed into one of these two categories. This is similar to the black and white argument and that no grayish area�s can be allowed. It makes a philosophy easier to argue and understand yet it does not make compromises when one is needed in times of stress. The American Indians had what is known as the medicine man, also known in other area�s of the world as a witch doctor. For example, in the 1850-60s in America there was a famous Indian named Black Elk, who would put on his favorite shirt, which he said would induce him into a trancelike state and he would talk about future events. These people who�s claims are to talk with the deceased just draw back on the sympathetic magic that our stone age descendants experienced.

 

The Shang people married the fertile plain Chinese women and in three generations they were physically indistinguishable for the natives. When the Shang arrived they were already practicing Shamanism ( you will see this as religious control).  They would say � Without us you would get lost.� Or � Only we know how to communicate correctly with the dead.� So the Shang�s way of getting into power was the age old line � You need us.�

 

They also practiced as their main form of trying to foretell the real future by observing repeatable events in the sky. Sunsets and Sunrises to the patterns of the planets and the stars and they form the backdrop of the Zodiac. This brought more evidence that astrology preceded astronomy in every civilization on earth as its main importance socially.

 

In the 1970�s there appeared in medicine shops in China, bones with writing on them.  They were called dragon bones. The people ground them up in to powder and consumed them, usually placing the contents in beer. But, when western archeologist took a closer look, they asked the Chinese government for this practice to be stopped. The writing was in fact real artifacts from the Shang period. This was a great discovery about how the forms of the earliest Chinese writing evolved. These bones were used as divination devices and were usually flat bones from carcasses of various animals, such as horses and sheep. The method was to light a fire, put the bone in the fire, and it would crack. Then, the shaman or divinization reader would interpret the cracks as some sort of fortune telling.  These were called by the shaman, of Shang, as oracle bones.

 

771-221 is considered the great social changes. It is here that the hundreds of states are reduced to seven and philosophers and writing, which includes poetry emerge to an art form. During this period, also,  Soybean cultivation moved from its originated northeast of China proper in Manchuria, home of the non-Chinese tribal people, which spread to China proper n the second half of the seventh Century BC. A rich source of protein and a important addition to the diet, this new crop plant, also, contains nitrogen-fixing bacteria that helped augment the fertility of the soil in which it was grown.

 

Politics were growing as well. The small town of Lu, the home of Confucius, enacted an agricultural reform in 594 B.C. that required peasants to pay land rents directly to the government rather then their landlords (Schirokauer 29).

 

Significance:

The Shang begin the first civilization of China and the ones who follow it will continue these roots and along these lines of progress.

 

 

1.      Metal casting is developed

2.      Contains early forms of writings and added on to such as to codify it.

3.      Begins the first uncovered dynasty

4.      Did not form cities; remains farms and lavish palaces built for the Shang only. ( Note: Egypt did not have cities in their beginnings, as well).

5.      Stone age discoveries about making silk. Now an industry under the Shang. They farm the silk moth. This continues till this day.

6.      No institutionalized government; although attempts made.

 

Silk was a great discovery for China. It is one of the toughest woven materials and remained the toughest for much of history until after the 1950s and various polymers were developed and manufactured. Silk had many significant purposes. The fabric could be used as floatation devises, or it could be used as a semi- protectoral armor against arrows. The person that was in water could use a piece of this cloth  as a air-tight bubble floatation device to keep him or herself floating on water. Or the arrows would go into its victims, yet many times the silk was elastic enough to keep the barbs of the arrow from penetrating the skin, so the wound person could pull the arrow out.

 

1.      Religious practice take over and is used as a controlling devise.

2.      art is widely invented, as such.

3.      The Shang style in many ways is still used today, including that the spirit would is mirrored below and almost everything has a spirit to it. Only thing that has changed, besides technology is the adding on.

4.      Shang ruled and unified China

 

The Shang became ethnically Chinese and their rule eventually ended because of greed and slothfulness between the c. 1140-1150s BC. A new native dynasty takes over.

Zhou [pronounced Show] (1100-246 BC) This was a long reign, nearly a thousand year. Chinese cultures spreads north southward to the Yangtze Valley. Feudal decentralization of power, started under the Shang, continues, bringing on a period of chaos and violence. The great Chinese philosophies emerge during the last three or four hundred years of Zhou rule. States emerge. Troubles are resolved when new dynasty emerges to the later in that dynasty all hell breaks loose.

There were approximately more than 750 different Chinese states and the as population grew. The Zhou a break-off group were fighting bitterly with other families that controlled each independent state. As the weaker fell to the stronger there eventually came to be only seven remaining, large, states. This was a time in the early Chinese history that from c. 500-400 BC was called the period of fighting. C. 400 BC is when finally seven major states hold power.

Although, about 600 BC a fantastic progress in technology emerged: Blast furnaces. These furnaces predate western culture nearly 1500 years. These furnaces could become hot enough to cast iron. In addition, the technology was so advanced that the Chinese could take out enough carbon to form a type of steel and even had used variations of chromium to coat their wears to slow down the erosion processes. (Casting in Europe began about c. 1300-1400 AD). [Key: West could only shape the Iron, not melt and cast it.]

 

Late Zhou Period

  Chinese Classical Period ~ 550 BCE to roughly 250BCE, from late in the Spring and Autumn period (770- 481 BCE) to almost the end of the Warring States period (480 �222 BCE).

 

Toaist vs. Confucians

Taoist = Law is the state.
Confucius = Man is the state.

Comparisons:

Age of Enlightenment = law is the state
Karl Marx &  Industrial Revolution, Communism/Totalitarianism = man is the state.

Taoist = Impersonal.
Confucius = personal.
Comparisons:
Age of Enlightenment = impersonal
Karl Marx & Industrial Revolution, Communism/Totalitarianism = personal.

 

Human Structure and Management 

Progressions of humans: War, expansion, migrations, population explosions, create a need for thinking, speaking, communicating and social writs. Thus the philosophies arise to try to solve the human management plan.
 

The Philosophies

Move away from religion makes the Zhou fall. Greek Philosophies have some things in common. Socrates and Plato�s ideas, although they never knew of their eastern counterparts, have strikingly similarities.  Both speculate on the nature of the world

At the end of the Zhou secularization, already reflected in the western Zhou bronzes had progressed to skepticism. The old gods ( religious piety) gone; the world, from their view was in crises. It was under these conditions that the Chinese philosophers emerged. Note: These conditions were not very different to what the philosophers of Greece were under a little more than a hundred years away from now experienced.

During the last four hundred years of the Zhou dynasties, there became intellectuals who decried all the continual violence. They turned their attentions to solving the problem of getting everyone to live in peace. � How do we achieve unity for China,� one would say. The next one: �having a benign society.� Some would consider a complete control of law and order. While others would predate a communism principle by 2000 years � � Lets take away all the property from everyone.� Some of these ideas only became passing fashions and fleeted away, while others lasted just a little longer.

Lao-Tze

There are two major people that shaped early China significantly. The first one was a shadowy figure.

 

Lao-Tze , (book:Tao te ching), whose name could mean little� child, man, or sage. There is no evidence that he actually lived and a writer could easily have placed this name in the credits for want of not having to be widely noticed for its unique content.

The story goes that he was a government employee ( Level of a paper shuffler)  of a lesser state and one day he became fed up with politics and said � I�m fed up with government work!� so he took up in the country and farmed his own little garden and raised some small animals living a agrarian lifestyle. This was a calculated move to get away from the troublesome city. However, over twenty-years he became sage-like and people began to come over to his little hut he built for himself to ask for his wisdom. This was all fine at first, but after a while, his wisdom shown through, and crowds formed everyday to the point that his own small reclusiveness became such as a small city of people � bothering him. He again became fed up. So he hooked up his cart to a water buffalo and headed down the road strait towards the nearest exit. The nearest exit to what? Out of China, of course.

 

When he finally traveled to the boarder one of the guards standing by stopped him.

 

�Where are you going?�

� Away.�

� You cannot cross this boarder, because if you do� all of China will be left without wisdom.�

 

Then a verbal fight ensured. He wanted out and would not take no for an answer. So he made a proposition.

 

If I write down all my wisdom and give it to you will you then let me leave?�

 

A surprising answer, then, came.

 

�OK.�

 

So by the side of the road the author proceeded to write down the wisdom on dried strips of bamboo and then proceeds to drive-off into the sunset never to be seen again.

Taoism (Daoism) as we know it today is still with us. Tao/Dao ( Pronounceddowel� without the  �el� means the way. Te ching means story about. The way nature exists in its calmer forms is close to describing the real message. Harmony comes out of non-aggression and non-resistance. One could categorize this philosophy as a pacifist form. People confuse what was said in the phrase � live the way of nature.� This did not imply that live the way the animals battle or how a parasitical life-form takes over another. Living by nature�s standards, he or she was trying to convey, meant that living in harmony and respecting others who are living around you is the correct way.

Another interesting observation is that emptiness is a significant, intricate   part of our existence. That is to say, we need objects to have emptiness so that we can write our history and existence onto earth and life. For example:

 

 

 

 

 

The spokes of this rim are a part of a wheel which takes up space and reinforces the weight shift that a cart of the ancient times could endure. Yet, the spokes are not the most important part of the wheel. The emptiness between the spokes has more important because, in the center will go the axle, which will hold together the cart�s axle, plus between the spokes will go the tool to which will bring the wagon down or to a stop in war.

 

What makes a functioning house?

 

 

 

Well, to make a functioning house one needs hollow places inside so that one could inhabit it. This was the most important thing. Emptiness was a place where man (women) could inhabit and, thus, they could have preservation and live.

Government philosophy of Lao.

Tao te ching taught that government should emprise less government.  And that the best form of living was agrarian: To be socially non- aggressive and non combatant. For example. If some one was in your way, the first thing to do is stop and tries to avoid this person and go around him. If you cannot go around him( her) then step backwards.

The basic premises are that if everyone submitted to whoever was in power there would be peace. Many western commentators have called this voluntary stupidity. In Sumer, most ancient of all civilizations ( to date) had a policy with mythology to be totally submissive to the gods that ruled over them � a type of slavery. Here the Tao te ching brings up the notion that if an aggressive outside foreign force finally takes you over, even after you retreated and there is no way out, then just be submissive and become their slave and there will be peace.

The basic constitutes of Taoism:

  1. Go with the flow.
  2. Don�t fight back
  3. Reserve your health
  4. Try not to get your body smashed up.
  5. If invaders do conquer your village/city � let them.

One will note many martial art forms deal in only defensive posturing. Of course, this brings up many other concepts down the road. First, many thought that Taoism meant trying to be immortal, or at least prolonging the inevitable (death). Second,  being judged by the people who you have harmed was another concern. We will see this more prominently with the Huangdi. Thirdly, the water which accommodates rather than initiates will become the most power spiritual force for the Chinese. For instance: The dragon is equated with Fire in the west. Yet, in the east the dragon, the most powerful of Chinese symbolism is associated with the realm of water: Although, the west equates this Chinese symbol to that of Fire (Aries).  This is confusion of the conversion. However, the base astrology attributes physiological, socially, personal and profession all have the same similarities as the western sign of Aries.

In Chinese philosophic speculations about the world, the Chinese thought off nature in a dynamic rather than static terms and considered man a part of the natural process. The wars really made people question their destiny.  Lao Zi political ideal was to return from complex to simplicity. In other words, the Chinese philosophers who adhere to this doctrin would have like if the leaders would not make all the rules and would spend endless hours scheming to make their positions better for themselves.

The other great text, the Zhuang Zi   ( Chuang Tze), turns its back on politics completely. One of Zhuang Zi�s favorite themes is to turn the relative into definitions.    In other words, which is real the dreaming world or the world one wakes up after sleeping and dreaming. Imagination and ecstatic acceptance of the Doa brings this text to champion spiritual freedom. Zhuang Zi�s got criticism for his contradiction theory: For example, if a statement is true than it is false; if false, it is true.

Hui Shi was a paradoxelist. He believed, like that of some of the Classical Greeks, that defining things needed to be done. For example, if one talks about a white house, that this has nothing to do with houses in general, but that this house belongs to the members of of whiter houses.  Therefore a white house is not a house, but class of house. These defining recognitions helped the Chinese better their language. Now the adjective played a larger significance as tastes and diversity of the language grew.

Water

Astrology

Many in the western astrology equate the Dragon ( Aries) in Chinese astrology as the property of fire. I even use this because it has been a standard for some time. YET. the Dragon in Chinese history that is their symbol of the east ( west being Tiger) was, and always been equated with WATER - their version of the most powerful element known to mankind/womankind. This is significance in knowing how the name of the nodes were given. Lunar Node= Moon ( Cancer/water sign) ( Dragon/ Chinese Water).

So this stated a aquatic triplicity has relevance in the nodes ( As long as this is accompanied with planets or luminaries).

No one can forsake the simple fact that Saturn and Uranus played heavily in the water categories even in Nostradamus's day. Those little ripples seen as the Uranians symbol ( home of Saturn in N�s day) is not radio waves traveling through the air as modern people speculate but one of the ancient symbols of running water. No one can forsake the simple fact that Saturn and Uranus played heavily in the water categories even in Nostradamus's day. Those little ripples seen as the Uranians symbol ( home of Saturn in N�s day) is not radio waves traveling through the air as modern people speculate but one of the ancient symbols of running water.

Policy of Etiquette

Confucius [Con-fute-say]

Confucius was from an aristocracy background, although at the time of his birth his parents fell on hard times. His mother was a typical self sacrificing woman and the parents placed young Confucius into a traditional Chinese education. He learned to read and write, learn his history. In addition to  writing he practiced the newer concepts of poetry. Along with the new rhymes, he practiced divination, practiced herbal medicine and traditional ritual practice of ancestral worship. The largest contribution his family taught him was to learn and conduct social graces. It is here that his parents would help shape Chinese history, for young Confucius would take these etiquette practices, expand on them to the point of teaching a standardized law, which was written down by others and is used in much of the Far East, even today.

The practice of philosophy also worked on society. At age 19 Confucius married and had a son. There is still an unbroken and well documented line of descendents down threw the centuries to today. When he finally reached adult hood he went into basic school teaching. During his nights he starts to ponder �how to solve these political systems that are warring with each other?�  Several jobs later, working now for several Chinese kingdoms as a high level government official, he is asked by the ruler of Lu, his home state, to solve a crime epidemic in the kingdom. There had been a rash of robberies and they seemed to be recurring at an alarming rate. Confucius got rid of the crime and the kingdom (state) because a land of peace ( there is no details how he did it) . The next Kingdom�s ruler became alarmed, because if a state is in a peaceful period it has ample time to build up its military power while steadily focusing on that job.  � I have to do something about this� the ruler said to his importants. So this ruler gathered up the prettiest girls and women in his kingdom and sent them to the kingdom of Lu. The return of crime came back quickly to Lu and  Confucius received the brunt of the blame. Out of this lessen came: The practical man is a wise one.

At age 60, he stopped traveling and doing his speaking circuit; he began to teach young men for a price. This was as long as they took him seriously and practiced their homework. Out of this were the boys-to-men who would write down what the now master had crystallized over his long journey as an investigator of society. His social philosophy has run much of the Far East from the Han dynasty to the present. His basic motto is: Know what the right thing to do and do it. Don�t go greedy and learn goodness so that it is second hand in nature ( that is that it becomes like the heart muscle, beating without one have to think to make it beat). It is an involuntary ethical prescription that contrasts the natural phenomenon of the hierarchy of nature because it is based upon reasoned judgments  and in conjunction to a disciplinary observance by a community subject to an ideology promulgated by the central authorities. The ideology is what is proper for the goal of humans, be it made � up in the mind of humans as humans control the institutions that are and by definition some state apparatuses where laws are issued by human decrees by some contesting powers of limited human privilege.

 

Equality of All People,  A Central Theme

Human Nature and Natural Equality

Donald J. Munro is his work �The Concept of Man in Early China� (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1969) investigates the contending philosophical assertions in regards to Confucian and Toaian. Confucianism is a hierarchical of nature of humans, where as the philosophy intends that all humans are born equal as this implies to the early child period; yet, whereas once the human reaches adulthood, the inequality manifests itself � thus the need for a philosophy of inequality and hierarchical prospects. Munro states that under the presupposition of Confucian �position on human equality has a belief that men (as adults) are of unequal merit, and that unequal treatment is therefore justified.� (Preface).

�Two themes can be found woven through the various poetic, conversational, and prose passages in which early Confucian and Taoist thinkers put forth their concepts of man. The first of these themes concerns the presence or absence in natural of a basis for the ethical categories �right and wrong,� �proper and improper,� and �superior and inferior.� The Confucians assumed that nature did reveal these qualities. Certain relationships between natural bodies (Plants, rivers, mountains, and so forth) were seen in ethical terms: for example, the �proper� relationship of Heaven to earth was that of superior to inferior, and it was �good� for a planet to move only in its own orbit. Similarly, some human relationships are �proper,: and some actions are �good.� In short, human society is simply an extension of nature. Taoist thinkers, by contrast, denied that nature revealed any of these qualities. �Superior and inferior,� �right and wrong,� and �proper and improper,� they maintained, were human inventions, which should be �forgotten� by men when in contact with their fellows and should never be read into nature as a whole� (p. 1). During the Warring States period, the philosophy schools fought over the correct course of action. Was human nature dominated over rational social constructs? Hereditary recognition was argued against by strict Confucianists. Membership into government positions were said to be solely �merit� based. These merits were judged according to ritual, poetry, writing, and numbers. Much of this information comes from Menicus (c. 372-298 B.C.E. [ see Menicus I.]) whose �position on hereditary claims vs. merit is far more complex than Menicus I, B. 7�s passage. (p.2, n. �).

Gods and Religion



Heaven (t�ien) was personalized by the Taoists, where as Confucians depersonalized the supreme being �Heaven.� Yet, it was the goal of Confucians to strive for personalization � that�s to say �perfection� of heaven.
It has been a long established misconception that early Chinese people had no idea of a supreme being, or gods in the plural sense. Early cosmology details that demarcation of Heaven and Earth in early Chinese reasoning. Heaven, therefore, became the supreme governance of humans who were subjected to an imperfect material world as opposed to the perfection of heaven. The perfection of the dominance and prosperity of ethical rule as it became the Mandate of Heaven. If a leader fell from grace or was overthrown from ruler ship, it was said that leader �lost� the Mandate of Heaven.

Munro writes on �The Natural Basis of the Social Order� � When philosophical thought is just beginning to emerge in a society there is a tendency to read the human social order into the structure of the universe [ an investigation into cosmology, perhaps?]. The ideas of inviolate social devisions, hierarchy, and the social norms are applied to the different inanimate phenomena making up the cosmos. The advantages of doing this, unconscious thought it may be, is that one can then speak of a natural basis for the particular social system one wishes to defend � a system exhibiting those very attributes first read into nature. (Munro p. 29). It is an involuntary ethical prescription that contrasts the natural phenomenon of the hierarchy of nature because it is based upon reason judgments in conjunction to a disciplinary observance by a community as an ideology. The ideology therefore is what propels the goal of humans, be it made � up in the mind of humans as humans control the institutions that are by definition just state apparatuses where laws are issued by human decree all the while issued by a contesting powers of human privilege. The natural world according to Taoists cannot be governed by man, but must be observed and appreciated. Confucians intend that nature can be controlled by education. Education defines a particular level of merit, thus the merit schools which were successes. Human nature comes to the Confucians as a natural empirical observance of filial conduct, thus expressing its manifestations out into the community � albeit unnatural as nature is competitive. In fact, philosophy was the investigation into what is real or what could be obtained in a material setting. Like Plato�s social classes in the Republic, Confucians intend that humans when they become adults are not equal but have talents in which is the order of things of which help to run society supposedly by benevolent common interests. The Stoics perhaps reflected �jus gentium� (principles of law and rights supposedly common to all people)� (Munro p. 19). Taoists pretend towards the Stoic ideas or vise versa, both having egalitarian proclivities, but nevertheless less effectual to implement them into societies hierarchy from the dominant ideology of Confucianism. It is such a paradox so conflicting to measurements in microcosmic physics. One can measure the particle of a photon, which will be one perspective, and one can measure the wave-length of a photon which of course is another perspective � the two positions are never absolute identical � but perceived by the application of measurement confined to time and space. In Chinese and Greek philosophy ( as well as others) the breaking of the paradox comes down to choice. Munro explains, � It is interesting to contrast, say, Plato�s ideas on hiearchy with Chinese ideas. For Plato, the mechanistic realm of bodies in motion is the servant of Purpose, the mortal is the servant of the divine, and the body is the servant of the soul: those men in whom the soul is too closely tied to the body are the servants of those in whom the rational part of the should controls the body. (p. 19, appended to n. 45, cf. Lackoff, Sanford A., �Equality in Political Philosophy� (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964), p. 16).  In Confucian thought the natural superiority of Heaven to Earth, or of yang to yin, has no such ready extension to men at birth. This difference had extremely important long-range consequences for the later philosophies of the two areas.� (pp. 19-20).

Common themes in the Discussion of Man

�Two general themes permeate all early Taoist writings. One of these attempt to make people cease treating man as if he were at the center of the universe. Where the Confucian read the human social order into nature, the Taoist tried to read nature into man. Toaist writers stressed the limited range of human knowledge and the imcompleteness of human judgments. Men see only part of the truth; yet they affirm right and wrong, true and false as if they could leave their small corner of the cosmos to experience and understand all. There is a mystical quality in the Taoist denial that ordinary human language can convey the truth, and in Taoist instatence that the �light within� can be discovered only when man ceases to use human language and human senses. (p. 121, n. 13). Often their arguments to prove the feebleness of human knowledge turns on the relativity of qualities men assign to objects with their language (e.g. �hot and cold,� �heavy and light,� �good and bad�). What seems hot to one man is cold to another, and so forth. How can we say one is right and the other is not?� (pp. 121-122). While Munro does not delve into the contemporary solution of twentieth century totalitarianism, the solution was �might is right.� Yet, there is no evidence that this was the conclusion six millennia ago, and even further back in time on earth.

 

Qin Dynasty

Duke Mu (659-621 BC) was the first Qin ruler of Qin state to play a significant role in the regional politics during the Spring and Autumn periods, which under his influence the Qin state gradually began to incorporate neighboring areas. Over the course of the next several generations Warring States) period (476 BC - 221 BC), the Qin remained strong. Competition among the states became ever more intense, more bloody and ruthless. The number of states declined as the larger, more powerful gobbled up the weaker and smaller ones. War chariots, which struck in mud and were clumsily in hilly terrain, were replaced by cavalry. The invention of the crossbow advanced larger battle assaults, although they were easy to use, they often were hard to make once many broke in battle. Along with the disappearance of war chariots was the simultaneous disappearance of gentlemanly code of fighting on the battlefield that reduced brutality to a minimum.

Still through this turbulent time emerged developments in agriculture, various fields of science and statecraft. The political rhetoric blossomed as aristocracies fell and society was in a flux. New minds in politics emerge from the peasantry who were not aloud to flex their intellects, under the old castes. By 338 BC, the state of Qin was realized. Feudalism was abolished to set up central control, and land was taken from hereditary landowners and distributed among peasants, who were then taxed by the central government. The groundwork was set for the coming of the King of Terror.

Ruled by Terror

Shi Huangdi

Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty

First Empire

221 B.C. AD 220

 

This King called himself Shi (meaning first) Huangdi (meaning emperor). He controlled the entire government. Many people who disagreed with him were killed. (Other spellings: Qin Shi Huang)

Military State was the backbone of this Empire

 

  1. Who was Shi Huangdi and what is this entire buzz?

The first emperor of China may have been from the lineage of the Mongolian Invasions ( Shang dyn.)  that over three generations intermarried with the indigenous people and could not be distinguished afterwards. Then 1000 years had passed and one of the same brut living, as the Mongols,  arose to reign in the Rule by Terror. The Qin state existed in what is now the province of Shaanxi (Shensi) since the 8th century BC. Although it lasted only 15 years its significance is unparallel in Chinese history.

The group who took over the seven remaining states and broke with the past wanted to establish a regime they hoped would last �ten thousands generations.� Since the old title of king ( wang) had lost much of its appeal through overuse by the various rulers of even small principalities during the long period of the Zhoa breakdown, it seemed hardly adequate for the head of a vast empire who claimed sovereignty over all peoples. Therefore, a new designation was adopted, combining two characters previously used for culture heroes and deities, to convey the full majesty of the ruler. Usually translated � emperor� ( hungdi, huang-ti), the title remained until 1912 AD ( Schirikauer 52).

To assert his sovereignty, systematically he toured his empire enacting his terror. His codes were cruel not only to the perpetrator of a broken law, which he set up, but the entire group f people he or she was associated with. They would all die.

Huangdi sent young boys and girls out into the ocean in search of mythical islands on ships. These mushroom looking islands are an actually real mirages, that has even been caught on video  tape (1988)  while thousands of onlookers point to its direction and the place is a tourist attraction, both for Chinese people and visitors. These mythical mushroom islands is where immortals live and he thought that the purity of the children�s minds would make it  easier to contact the gods. The children were never heard from again.

China believed that heaven and earth should be a mirror. Just like the Classical Greeks ( Hellens) who emulated their own gods to a tee (mimic all their practices) the Chinese fashioned their gods as heroes and great souls who had supernatural powers and lived forever.  They had the elixir of immorality. If they could be found, possibly the Chinese believed, they would be able to retrieve this elixir for themselves.

Huangdi had another line of attack. To defeat death, he would travel up the highest mountain around. It would be there that in silence with him and the mountain that he could possibly contact the gods (Moses) and or meditate and receive the instructions of the mysteries of life (immorality). Mountain mushrooms and herbs, also, played a big part of the journey up the mountain. The herbs were grown closer to heaven and thus were more pure for the body.

Out of this grew the concepts that the elixir for immortality was a plant ( Gilgamesh epic/Sumer). On these mountains, Huangdi, would travel and search for this plant. On his first eastern tour in 220 B.C., he visited China�s most sacred mountain, Mt. Tai in Shandong, where he preformed sacrifices to the gods ( Heaven).  It is true that during his fourth tour, whioch took him to carious parts of his empire he began to think that the tomb he was building was not needed, because he was convinced he was going to live forever.

Part of this was that certain minerals were now believed to give ever lasting life, just as the plant was, that he never found. Jade and gold were considered the best. Jade was rare, hard and lasting. He begin to ingest crushed powdered jade. The theory was that by ingesting rare and hard ( Which meant long lasing) stone a person would, again mirror ( emulate) that property and become like it. He did not stop at jade and gold. He and other believed that mercury was another long lasting mineral (Looks pretty all metallic). This caused foaming of the mouth and a slew of other diseases associated with the toxic.

Huangdi died suddenly at the palace in Shaqui prefecture at the age of 47. The Imperial Secretariat Li Si and the chief eunuch Zhao Gao contrived to keep his death a secret until they could return to the capital, which then they forged a fake document that Ying Fu Su , the most loved of he emperors sons. to commit suicide. In addition they made the troops from Meng Tian-a disband. These were loyal supporters of Ying Fu Su-and killed Meng's family also. Ying Fu Su, was also, the first son of the First Emperor of China. He  had doubts about the decree, but after seeing that his father forced many of his house to be buried with him he went along with the fake decree. For example, all the concubines and women that Huangdi had over his lifespan were strangled and buried along with him. That is the women that did not, or could not, bear him children. He also, had the workers who built his tomb be planned to be buried alive without their consent. At the time of burial, the outside exit/enter door was succeeded with a long hallway to an inner door that leads to his main sanctuary, After the men had sealed the main sanctuary with a large stone that could not be removed the exit door was slammed shut, burring them alive. Ying Fu Su did not think the decree was false, and administrating to ancestral worship, commited suicide. This placed a weaker, malleable, second son on the throne. The alliance of Li Si and Zhao Gao was short lived. Li Si was tourtued and killed Zhao Gao. This set of a troubling remaining years of this short lived dynasty. Traditional accounts showed that murder and intrige at court meant that the leadership could not run an empire. The taxes that Huangdi levied so heavily on the peasants to build his projects were not subsiding, but increasing and things descended into chaos. Ying Ziying soon killed Zhao Gao. In 206 BC, under revolts from the peasents at all the bofoonery, Ying Ziying  surrenderd to Emperor Gao of Han China.

Thus the new age and new brighter direction was on the horizon. The night had passed, it was short, but dark, and then sun rose brilliantly to a long splended day.

Work Cited:

Schirokauer Conrad A brief History of Chinese Civilization 1991. Harcourt Brace & Company

Photos of Qin dynasty artifacts Travel China Guide. 2004




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