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Progressive Chinese Philosophy Essay

1721 words - 7 pages

Easter Civ. 304

Research Paper

March 4, 2009

Chinese Philosophy

Chinese philosophies and ways of thinking have constantly been reinventing themselves. A new dynasty meant a new leader, which meant a new position taken on philosophy. As the Chinese empires expanded to include more regions and people, their philosophies and beliefs began to shape and transform from what they once were. In the early Shang dynasty, for instance, philosophic thought had little impact. The main focus of faith was deity based. Followers worshiped their ancestors and made ritual sacrifices to appease their deity, which was known as Shang Di. Then, when the Zhou dynasty, 1122-256 BCE, conquered the Shang ...view middle of the document...

Confucius lived during the Zhou dynasty and was born in the state of Lu into a low ranking, noble family. Confucius traveled from state to state expressing his beliefs to different rulers; in doing so, he acquired a small band of followers who also dedicated their lives to what Confucius preached. While he devoted his life to his teachings and beliefs, they were not truly integrated into Chinese culture until the Han dynasty. The development of these beliefs are followed by the core Confucius texts which include the “Four Books” and the “Five Classics”. There is much debate on how much of these texts Confucius actually wrote himself and how much are mere interpretations from his students; however, the texts are held critical to followers of Confucianism. It was only after the death of Confucius that Confucianism truly became prevalent in China.

The very core of Chinese culture can even be attributed to Confucianism. Confucius stressed that dedicating your life to education, self-cultivation, obedience, and social harmony were imperative in having a successful life and to reaching enlightenment. Considering that Confucianism is said to still have an enthusiastic base of over 6 million people, the majority of which reside in China, it would be naive to say that Confucianism has not had a great impact on Chinese culture. Education and learning are one of the most important aspects of Confucianism. Confucius believed every person was inherently good in nature, but to emulate the full potential of one’s inner goodness he must seek guidance. He taught that every person is capable of being anything they aspire to be and while everyone has a brain, not everyone uses it to its full potential. Whether a person attends school or becomes their own teacher through studying and reading texts, they must seek the guidance of someone or something that has intellect beyond your own. True followers of Confucius are well educated and consider their studies a way of progressing in life. Clearly, China has adopted this view of education, where, still, education and examinations are very important to the Chinese culture. From a young age children are taught the importance of schooling. During the Han Dynasty, which was when Confucianism was implemented as an actual ethical doctrine, Emperor Wudi created "the highest grade official school-the Great Academy, which was set up in the northwestern suburban area of the capital city Chang'an (Xian). The teaching materials of the official schools were classical books of Confucius" (Education in China).

Children and adults of all ages were being taught the Confucian canon, the five classics and four books of Confucian thought. Not only did Confucius introduce the importance of education to Chinese culture, but he made it accessible to pupils of all classes. Education was meant for everyone, not just a certain class, race, or culture. He believed it is one’s natural right at birth to be able to learn and...

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