Lecture 14 Chinese Neo Kinship Society

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China’s Neo-Kinship Society: 

1 China’s Neo-Kinship Society


2 Outline 1) Epictetus: Roman philosophy of Empire (conclusion) 2) The Fall of the Roman Empire Weakness of Roman law 3) China: The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of the Chinese Empire Strength Confucian bureaucracy and its family-based philosophy

How to be free: 

3 How to be free Whoever, therefore, wants to be free, let him neither wish for anything, nor avoid anything, that is under the control of others; or else he is necessarily a slave. # 14 Story of Epictetus and his master

Adapting to the loss of practical freedom: 

4 Adapting to the loss of practical freedom Roman history and freedom 1) Struggle for practical freedom 2) Loss of practical freedom 3) Stoicism: we can still be (truly) free! True freedom is controlling your mind = Stoicism as philosophy of people who have lost their practical freedom to control their lives but still believe in freedom

Accept your role in life: 

5 Accept your role in life “Remember that you are an actor in a play, the character of which is determined by the Playwright; if He wishes the play to be short, it is short; if long, it is long; if He wishes you to play the part of a beggar, remember to act even this role adroitly; and so if your role be that of a cripple, an official, or a layman. For this is your business, to play admirably the role assigned you; but the selection of that role is Another’s.” # 17

The world is in good order: 

6 The world is in good order “In piety towards the gods, I would have you know, the chief element is this, to have right opinions about them, as existing and as administering the universe well and justly—and to have set yourself to obey them and to submit to everything that happens, and to follow it voluntarily, in the belief that it is being fulfilled by the highest intelligence.” #31

Is Socrates a Model Stoic?: 

7 Is Socrates a Model Stoic? See Epictetus #53: “Well, O Crito, if so it is pleasing to the gods, so let it be.” “Anytus and Meletus can kill me, but they cannot hurt me.” Was Socrates really a Stoic? Did he teach that external material goods and the good of the body were not in our control? Did he teach that our fate is determined by God? (NDE of Er)

China: Summary of Argument: 

8 China: Summary of Argument 1) Two approaches in China’s history: Family-centered Confucianism and Legalism 2) Compare China to other civilizations Rome, Egypt, Mesopotamia 3) What questions do these comparisons create? China’s long duration and its Confucian system 4) How explain this unique system? Geographical origins of China Social features of Chinese origins

Two Approaches to Society: 

9 Two Approaches to Society “The Governor of She said to Confucius, ‘In our village there is a man nicknamed ‘Straight Body’. When his father stole a sheep, he gave evidence against him.’ Confucius answered, ‘In our village those who are straight are quite different. Fathers cover up for their sons, and sons cover up for their fathers. Straightness is to be found in such behaviour.’” (Analects, XIII, 18)

Conflict in China: Family or State?: 

10 Conflict in China: Family or State? The Governor of She: the State, the Law is primary Confucius (551-479 BCE) : the family is primary

Historical Expression of Conflict: 

11 Historical Expression of Conflict Period of Warring States: 481-222 BCE Qin dynasty unites China: 221 BCE Qin Shi Huangdi “The First Emperor” (See movie “Hero”) Adopts Legalism; burns books of Confucius Han revolution 202 BCE Peasant leader: Liu Bang (died 195 BCE) Adopts philosophy of Confucius How long did the Qin (Chin) dynasty last?

Legalism in the West: 

12 Legalism in the West Socrates’ discussion with the Laws Are we not, first, your parents? = Platonic resolution of the conflict of Antigone > Further developed in Roman Cosmopolitan law Expressed in Stoic obedience to divine Law

Duration of Roman Empire: 

13 Duration of Roman Empire Roman Empire 27 BCE – 476 CE Urban proletarian abandons Rome Become voluntary serfs on large latifundia Serfdom: exchange portion of product, labor for land Replacing slaves > Root of European feudalism

Why did the Roman Empire fall?: 

14 Why did the Roman Empire fall? Practical Limits of expansion Slaves become expensive Army based on mercenary “barbarian” soldiers Intellectual Legal citizenship is empty, abstract “Christian otherworldliness”? (Gibbon) Other: see Spodek 196-7

Empty Legality as a Cause of Fall? : 

15 Empty Legality as a Cause of Fall? Recall early reasons for State rule 1) Technological: irrigation 2) Defense 3) Exploitation (civilization trap) Greek and Roman republics: 4) Legal Rights to freedom (for some), based on human-made law But with empire, legal rights become empty

Long Duration of Chinese Empires: 

16 Long Duration of Chinese Empires Legalist Xin 221-202 BCE (19 yrs) Confucian Han 202 BCE to 220 CE (422) Period of disunity (361 years) Chinese empire reunited by Sui (581- ) Minor interruptions (esp. 1916-49) over 1300 years!! = Decline and Fall and Rise Again of Chinese Empire

Underlying Unity: 

17 Underlying Unity “It appeared that the Chinese Empire, like that of Rome, had lost control of its original homeland and divided forever.” Spodek 222 Cultural and ideological unity continues Persistence of Chinese-Han (Confucian) bureaucracy: “Thus, below the surface of foreign rule a powerful stratum of Chinese elites remained in place.” (Spodek, 223)

Basic Issues: 

18 Basic Issues Why did the Confucian family system triumph with Han dynasty? Why was Legalism of Xin rejected? How explain enduring unity of Chinese state? Is this connected to the rejection of legalism? Is this connected to the Confucian family-centered system of bureaucracy?

Egypt and China: What do they have in Common?: 

19 Egypt and China: What do they have in Common? Long duration of Egyptian State Explanation? Unity based on Nile, irrigation Periods of feudal breakdown China too is an irrigation state Feudal breakdowns in China: 220-581; 1916-49 —1949: reunification under Communist State Major achievement of Sui: Grand Canal Linking Yellow (Huang He) and Yangzi Rivers

Contrast with Mesopotamia: 

20 Contrast with Mesopotamia Centralized Bureaucratic-legal state Expansion outside irrigation system > Assyrian rule by brute force – ultra legalism Recall functions of early states Technological: maintain canals Force: defend and dominate China: 1) Expands beyond Yellow River > disunity 2) Reunification based on expanded irrigation Force (legalism) not so important

Geographical Origin: Not in the Flood Plains: 

21 Geographical Origin: Not in the Flood Plains “China’s first settlements had avoided the immediate flood plain of the Yellow River, one of the most treacherous in the world. Its bed filled with the silt from the mountains, the Yellow River has jumped its course twenty-six times in recorded history, wrecking untold devastation.” Spodek, 93

Geographical Origins of First Chinese states: 

22 Geographical Origins of First Chinese states “To the north, the top soil is a fine yellow dust, called loess. Borne by winds from the west, it is 250 feet deep to the north of Chang’an, a region with little irrigation. (Spodek 222) Simple hoe agriculture: wheat, millet, beans and turnips (not rice)

Why first states in the cold north? : 

23 Why first states in the cold north? Loess deposits: Allow surpluses with primitive technology Civilization trap!! Irrigation system (by state) Provides technological assistance reinforces trap In warm, rice-growing south: mobility is possible

Social Origins of First Chinese States: 

24 Social Origins of First Chinese States “The Xia, like the later Shang and Zhou, seems to have been ruled by specific internal clans, each with its own king. As in many cultures, kingship and kinship were interrelated.” Spodek, 93. “Specific” clans rule over other clans

Pattern of growth of the state: 

25 Pattern of growth of the state Warrior nomads of the north Periodic conquests, such as by the Mongols Border area Chinese kinship groups (clans) defend themselves; develop military skills Conquer more interior peoples (clans) One specific ruling clan rules over other clans

Sharp class division under Shang: 

26 Sharp class division under Shang City of Louyang: “to the north were the dwellings and graves of the wealthy and powerful, marked by ritual bronze vessels and sacrificial victims; to the south were the dwellings of the commoners and their burial places in trash pits.” Spodek, 95

Neo-Kinship Society: 

27 Neo-Kinship Society One clan group rules others Head of clan > king of society Kinship + hierarchy = Kinship system adapts to civilization Kinship not replaced by legal unification

Bronze Age Hierarchy: 

28 Bronze Age Hierarchy See Shang dynasty bronze wine vessel, p. 93 Bronze as metal of aristocracy = Bronze age society, like Mesopotamia But based on kinship hierarchies, not legal system Iron comes to peasantry late; powerful states already established

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