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4 -- Part 6: China's Classical Age
The Confucian tradition valued studying texts over speculation, medita tion, and mystical identification with deities.
The men who came to study with him were encouraged to master the poetry, rituals, and historical traditions that we know today as Confucian classics.
It was useless.
The success of Confucian ideas can be traced back to the followers of Confucius.
Mencius was the most important of them.
Mencius traveled around giving advice to rulers.
Concrete measures to ease tax burdens and improve the people's lot were proposed by Mencius.
When they worked hard to fil the ruler's money, they earned his contempt.
Mencius argued that human nature is fundamentally good in his discussions with his fellow philosophers.
Xunzi argued that people are born selfish and that only through education and ritual do they learn to put moral principle above their own interests.
Xunzi had worked for many years in the court of his home state, but neither Confucius nor Mencius had any political or administrative experience.
He showed more thought to the difficulties a ruler might face in trying to rule through virtue and ritual.
For instance, Confucius declined to say gods, portents, and anomalies.
Xunzi argued that Heaven does not intervene in human affairs.
Xunzi did not propose abandoning traditional rituals.
Xunzi saw rituals as an efficient way to get order in society.
Traditional ritual practices, such as complex funeral protocols, have positive effects on performers and spectators.
Ritual traditions sustain the social hierarchy because they specify graduated ways to perform the rites according to social rank.
The Warring States Period found a small but ardent following for the Confucian vision of personal ethics and public service.
Men who were educated in Confucian virtues were seen as ideal advisers and officials.
Confucian scholar-officials upheld the best ideals of state craft and did not oppose bad government.
Chinese society was shaped by Confucian political ideals.
The moral basis for the Chinese family was provided by the Confucian vision.
It was seen as a sacred duty to pay parents and ancestors.
During the Warring States Period, rulers took advantage of the destruction of states to recruit newly unemployed men to serve as their advisers and court assistants.
Lively de bate resulted when these strategists proposed policies.
The circulation of "books" (rolls of silk, or strips of wood or bamboo tied together) was used to further debate as followers took to recording their teachers' ideas.
Many of the schools of thought opposed the ideas of Confucius.
The Legalists argued that a strong government rested not just on moral leadership but also on effective laws and procedures, and that the act of trying to improve something only made it worse.
They believed in moral effort and statecraft.
Men of virtue should devote themselves to making the government work for the benefit of the people.
Those who were labeled Daoists disagreed.
They thought trying to make things better made them worse.
The rul ers were wanted to leave the people alone by the daemons.
They wanted to let their minds wander and go beyond everyday concerns.
The whole natural concern was focused on the larger scheme of things.
Chinese archaeologists discovered a late-fourth-century b.c.e.
Many of the books that scholars have been able to reconstruct are previously unknown.
There is a strip that is far right.
Water does not compete with the highest good.
It comes near to the Way because it occupies the places people don't like.
He fills people's bellies.
He strengthens their bones.
The clever won't dare act.
Order will prevail if you engage in no action.
Zhuangzi's thought was concerned with death.
He wondered if life is better than death.
The same way a captive girl is terrified when she learns she is to be the king's concubine is how people fear what they don't know.
It is possible that death has the same pleasures as life in the palace.
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