The Land and its Challenge • The Geography of China • Historical China was smaller than present day China. • Northern China is colder, flatter, and more arid than the south. • The Yangzi River is the central feature of southern China. • Mountains and deserts separated China from other early civilizations.
China’s Earliest Civilizations, to 1050 B.C.E. • Chinese Myths and Legends • According to Chinese mythology, a series of brilliant individuals made contributions to the advancement of Chinese society. • These legends reveal much about what educated Chinese thought defined China and its history. • The early Chinese conception of history and cosmology was more human-centered than that of other major civilizations. • Technology played a major role in defining Chinese civilization. • A number of different cultures played a role in the development of Chinese civilization.
“Peking Man”(750,000 – 500,000 BCE) Sinanthropuspekinesis
The Neolithic Age • Agriculture was practiced in China from about 10,000 B.C.E. • Between the fifth and the third millennia B.C.E., distinct regional Neolithic cultures emerged. • In time, China’s Neolithic cultures came to share many practices and beliefs.
Neolithic Pottery 3000 BCE to2000 BCE
Hsia Dynasty 2205-1027 BCE
“Huangdi” – Emperor • The “Yellow Emperor.” • Legend has it that he ruled for over 100 years. • Associated with the invention of wheeled vehicles, ships, armor, pottery, and silk-making.
Emperor Fuxi • Mythical Hsia ruler. • Taught the Chinese how to read and write, according to legend.
Shang Dynasty 1766-1027 BCE
The Shang Dynasty (ca 1500−ca 1050 B.C) Sometime after 2000 B.C.E. the Shang Dynasty emerged in the north China plain. • The Shang was a central power, allied with some local powers and at war with others. • Shang kingship was based on military power and the king’s priestly role. • Shang palaces were magnificent, but nothing of them remains today. • The Shang kings had sufficient authority and resources to mobilize large numbers of people for their military campaigns and construction projects. • Shang society was highly stratified. • The royal family and aristocracy lived in large houses. • Shang farmers were essentially serfs.
Writing • The Chinese writing system was perfected during this period. • Writing facilitated the development of a bureaucratic state. • Chinese script was logographic. • This restricted literacy to a tiny elite. • China’s logographic writing system had important advantages. • Many of China’s neighbors adopted the Chinese script.
The Evolution of ChineseWriting during the Shang Pictographs Semantic-Phonetics
Axe Scepter – 1100 BCE - jade Ceremonial Dagger – 1028 BCE
Bronzes • During the Shang period, bronze had an important place in ritual. • Modern scholars disagree about the significance of the decoration on Shang bronzes. • Bronze making spread beyond the territory controlled by the Shang kings.
Zhou Dynasty 1027 - 256 BCE
The Zhou Dynasty (ca 1050−256 B.C.E.) • Zhou Politics • The Zhou of the Wei basin conquered the Shang Dynasty in the eleventh century B.C.E. • They assimilated well with the Shang. • The Zhou originated the political concept of the Mandate of Heaven.
Early Zhou rulers established a decentralized system of government. • By 800 B.C.E. Zhou territory was divided into approximately 200 domains. • In such a system, the control of the king was always tenuous. • As new border states emerged, they eventually defeated the Zhou king in 771 B.C.E. • Over time, China descended into a period of constant fighting known as the Warring States Period (403−221 B.C.E.).
“T’ien Ming” The Mandate of Heaven • The leader must lead by ability and virtue. • The dynasty's leadership must be justified by succeeding generations. • The mandate could be revoked by negligence and abuse; the will of the people was important.
A new dynasty comes to power. The emperorreforms the govt.& makes it moreefficient. Start here Emperor isdefeated !! Lives of common people improved;taxes reduced;farming encouraged. TheDynasticCycle Rebel bands findstrong leader whounites them.Attack the emperor. Problems begin(extensive wars,invasions, etc.) Poor loserespect for govt.They join rebels& attack landlords. Taxes increase;men forced towork for army.Farming neglected. Droughts,floods,famines occur. Govt. increasesspending; corruption.
Zhou Society Early Zhou society was based on aristocracy. • By the middle of this period, cities had been founded all over China. • During the Warring States period the old aristocratic society was undermined by competition between the states and advances in military technology. • Social mobility within the elite also increased during this period. • Peripheral territories began to participate in the culture of the “Central States.”
The Golden Age of Chinese Philosophy • Confucius and his Followers • Confucius (traditional dates, 551−479 B.C.E.) spent most of his life teaching the sons of the aristocracy. • Confucius believed that the family was the basic unit of society. • A Confucian gentleman was a man of integrity, education, and culture.
The Confucian gentleman used these qualities to serve his ruler. • The ultimate Confucian virtue was ren. • Confucius emphasized the importance of study. • Mencius (ca 370−ca 300 B.C.E.) and Xunzi (ca 310−ca 215 B.C.E.) were the most important of Confucius’ followers. • Mencius spent much of his life trying to convince rulers to adopt his ideas. • Mencius believed that human nature was fundamentally good.
Xunzi believed that people are born selfish and only acquire morals through study and ritual. • Xunzi applied his experience working in the court of his home state to his philosophy. • The Confucian vision of the family is still central to Chinese thinking today.
Mozi • Mozi (ca 450 B.C.E.) challenged Confucius’ ideas, arguing that rulers should choose their advisors on the basis of merit. • Mozi believed that all ideas should be evaluated on the basis of utility. • Mozi’s vision of the merit principle and his critique of extravagance were eventually absorbed into Confucianism.
Daoism In contrast to Confucians who focused on human action, Daoists focused on the natural order as a whole. • The two major sources of information about early Daoism are the Laozi and Zhuangzi. • According to Daoism, almost all purposeful actions are counterproductive. • Although Daoism can be seen as a response to Confucianism, many Chinese were attracted to aspects of both systems of thought.
Legalism Legalists argued that strong government depended on clear and effective laws, not on the moral status of rulers. • Under the leadership of its chief minister Lord Shang (d. 338 B.C.E.), the state of Qin adopted many legalist principles. • Han Feizi (d. 233 B.C.E.) promoted legalism in the decades following Lord Shang’s death. • Legalists sought to constrain officials and regulate the common people. • Legalists discouraged public debate and private opinion.
Yin and Yang • The previously discussed philosophies had important long-term consequences for Chinese history. They were not, however, the only schools of thought in the late Zhou period. • Theorists about the concepts of yin and yang deserve special mention. • Recent study has also uncovered records that shed light on the importance of popular religion to the development of Chinese early thought.
Chinese Philosophies & Ethical Codes