Ancient Chinese History: Western and Eastern Zhou

Below is a student Research Paper about Ancient Chinese History.

“Zhou and the Mandate of Heaven Shao Announcements,” Book of Documents

“Ah! August Heaven has changed his principal son and has revoked the Mandate of this great state of Yin [i.e. Shang dynasty].
When a king receives the Mandate, without is the grace thereof, but also without limit is the anxiety of it. Ah! How can he fail to be reverently careful!”
Saturday, September 8, 12


Western Zhou dynasty, 1045-771 BCE 

  • Territory between the lower Yellow River valley and Yangzi River (Capital: Hao / Haojing)
  • Landholding in exchange for service to the Zhou king
  • A “feudal” system dominated by a few aristocratic elite families
  • Military services and agricultural labor for the Western Zhou king
  • Conferral of gifts, titles, and honors by the Western Zhou kings
  • Feudal lords and his territory are largely autonomous
  • Hereditary succession in each feudal kingdom

 

End of the Western Zhou

• Disassociation between the families over time • Increasingly powerful feudal kingdoms • Imaginable to overthrow the Zhou kings
• Zhou king defeated in 771 BCE
• Zhou capital moved eastward (to the city of Luoyang)

Eastern Zhou: New Demand for Experts
• Regional states’ increasing organizational need
• Professionally skilled, mostly literate men
• Military organization, financial operation, record-keeping • New class of literate men entering the political class • Increasing upward social mobility
• E.g. Confucius and the Analects
Friday, September 14, 12

Confucius and the Analects
Rituals (Li)= interactions with other people and our surroundings in our everyday lives Friday, September 14, 12
Friday, September 14, 12

Confucius and the Analects
Examples of our own daily rituals “Thank you” / “Please”
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Confucius and the Analects
Impossibility of definition, or situational ethics (e.g. 2.7 and 2.8 on being filial) Friday, September 14, 12
Friday, September 14, 12

Critics of Confucius
Mozi and Laozi
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Mozi
“Those who understood the nature of this chaos saw that it arose from a lack of rulers and leaders and so they chose the best person among the most worthy and capable in the world and established him as the Son of Heaven.”
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Shang government and society

  • Shang king = the apex of the political structure • Patrilineal succession, e.g. father to son • Wars: Commander-in-chief in battles
  • Rituals: State rituals, sacrifices, divinations
  • Confederacy of elite, aristocratic families and/or lineages
  • No slaves, i.e. no records of human beings bought or sold
  • Conscripts / Forced labor: warfare, construction, agriculture
  • Agricultural economy
  • Millet = the staple crop
  • Animal husbandry (cattle, horses, dogs, pigs, sheep)
  • Zhou – western neighboring state of the Shang • Zhou conquest: 1050 – 1045 BCE • Western Zhou dynasty, 1045-771 BCE • Sources for Western Zhou history
  • No more oracle-bone inscriptions

Two texts:

Book of Documents (12 speeches by Zhou rulers) Book of Poetry / Classic of Odes (305 poems; authors

Zhou and the Mandate of Heaven

  • Disappearance of the Shang high god Di 
  • “Heaven” (tian) and the “Mandate of Heaven” (tianming)
  • “Mandate of Heaven” (tianming) as political legitimation
  • Heaven revoking the mandate for the Shang
  • Heaven giving the mandate to the founding figures of the Western Zhou [King Wen, King Wu, Duke of Zhou]
  • The ruler of men is the son of Heaven

 

“The Milky Way” (excerpt), Book of Songs / Classic of Odes The drought has become so severe, That it cannot be stopped. Glowing and burning,
We have no place.The great Mandate is about at an end, Nothing to look ahead to or back upon. The host of dukes and past rulers Does not help us; As for father and mother and the ancestors, How can they bear to treat us so?”Saturday, September 8, 12
Zhou conquest of the Shang“Mandate of Heaven”
Legitimated the Zhou conquest of the Shang
Introduced the idea of legitimate violence or a just war Right to rule founded on morals rather than brute force Divine authority for keeping rulership in check

Eastern Zhou dynasty, 770-256 BCE

  • Eastern Zhou: five centuries of multi-state warfare
  • First widespread use of iron for farming tools and weapons
  • Infantry warfare, i.e. foot soldiers vs. bronze chariots
  • Zhou king: nominal authority
  • Largely autonomous states constantly at war

 

Confucius and the Analects
Confucius, 551-479 BCE Origin: State of Lu
Low-level official; a scribe of the state of Lu at one point Prominent teacher
Analects: Posthumous compilation of his sayings Against the collapse of the once orderly Western Zhou Friday, September 14, 12
Confucius and the Analects
“He would not sit unless his mat was straight.” (10.11)
One day the stable was burned. When the Master returned from court, he asked, “Was anyone hurt?” He did not ask about the horses. (10.17) He would not instruct while eating, nor continue to converse once he had retired to bed. (10.10)

Confucius and the Analects Goodness (ren)
Yan Hui asked about Goodness. The Master said, “Restraining yourself and returning to the rites constitutes Goodness. If for one day you managed to restrain
yourself and return to the rites, in this way you could lead the entire world back to Goodness. The key to achieving Goodness lies within yourself– how could it come from others?” (12.1) The Master said, “A man who is not Good–what has he to do with ritual?” (3.3)
The Master said, “Is Goodness really so far away? If I simply desire Goodness, I will find that it is already here.” (7.30)

Confucius and the Analects Lifelong self-cultivation
The Master said, “At 15 I set my mind upon learning; at 30 I took my place in society; at 40 I became free of doubts; at 50 I understood Heaven’s Mandate; at 60 my ear was attuned; and at 70 I could follow my heart’s desires without overstepping the bounds of
propriety.” (2.4)
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Confucius and the Analects
Achieve Goodness by a lifelong training in Rituals Argument for the primacy of individual moral education Emphasis on education and learning for everyone Birth does not immediately make you “Good”
Disappearance of the aristocratic elite; it no longer matters if you are a member of a particular family or not, unlike in the Western Zhou (and possibly the Shang)

 

Mozi• Mozi, “Master Mo,” roughly 480 – 390 BCE
• Mozi, the text, attributed to him and his followers
Artisan / Leader of a social movement
Later Moists / Mohists = logics, mathematics, and optics
End of Moism / Mohism = Around 200 BCE, end of the Warring States Friday, September 14, 12
Mozi• Cost-benefit analysis (example of funeral rites)
• “A coffin three inches thick is adequate for the decaying bones. Three layers of clothes are adequate for the decaying flesh. The grave should be dug to a depth that does not strike water but that also does not allow fumes to escape to the surface. The burial mound should only be high enough to clearly mark the spot. Friday, September 14, 12
Mozi• Cost-benefit analysis (example of funeral rites)
• “There should be crying as one sees the departed off and as one comes back from the grave. But as soon as people have returned to their homes, they should resume their individual livelihoods. There should be regular sacrificial offerings made to extend filiality to one’s parents.”
Friday, September 14, 12
Mozi• “In ancient times, when people first came into being and before there were governments or laws, each person followed their own norm for deciding what was right and wrong. … In this way people came to approve their own norms for what is right and wrong and thereby condemn the norms of others. And so t hey mutually condemned each other’s norms.”

 

Friday, September 14, 12

Mozi

  • Objective standards are possible and necessary
  • Institutionalize the objective standards
  • A meritocratic system, with rewards and punishments
  • Government with a clear hierarchy
  • Obeying, trusting one’s superiors; “Son of Heaven”
  • “Heaven” (tian) as the ultimate, impersonal source and enforcer of these objective standards

 

Laozi

  • Laozi, or Daodejing (Tao Te Ching), as a text, began to circulate in the fourth-century BCE 
  • Laozi, “Master Lao” or “Old Master,” is allegedly an older contemporary of Confucius 
  • 81 chapters; each a short poem 
  • Critical of both Confucius and Mozi
    Friday, September 14, 12 
Laozi

  • All distinctions, e.g. good vs. bad, are artificial
  • Wrongheaded for Confucius and Mozi to rely on ideas such as good vs bad to build their philosophy
  • They are not only irrelevant, but because they are fundamentally contrary to how the world works, they inevitably create more disorder

Friday, September 14, 12

Laozi (chapter 57)

“The more taboos and prohibitions there are in the world, the poorer the people. The more sharp implements the people have, the more benighted the state.
The more clever and skillful the people, the more strange and perverse things arise. The more clear the laws and edicts, the more thieves and robbers.” (Chapter 57)

Friday, September 14, 12

Laozi

• Against Confucius / Analects
• The idea of Goodness (a false distinction) is useless
• Against Mozi
• Laws and institutions only create more of what they are supposed to eliminate

  • A ruler creates circumstances, a whole world, for the people in which the desired outcome would simply be considered natural. Most effective
  • because if it is no longer an argument, it can’t be argued against.
  • An amoral philosophy; it is not concerned with morality

 

Friday, September 14, 12Laozi (chapter 17)

  • “The greatest of rulers is but a shadowy presence; next is the ruler who is loved and praised; next is the one who is feared; next is the one who is reviled.
  • “Those lacking in trust are not trusted. But [the greatest rulers] are cautious and honor words.
  • When their task is done and work complete, their people all say, ‘This is just how we are.’
    Friday, September 14, 12
Laozi (chapter 65)

  • “In ancient times, those good at practicing the Way did not use it to enlighten the people, but rather to keep them in the dark.
  • “The people are hard to govern because they know too much. And so to rule a state with knowledge is to be a detriment to the state. Not to rule a
  • tate through knowledge is to be a blessing to the state.”

Laozi

• Against Confucius / Analects
• The idea of Goodness (a false distinction) is useless
• Against Mozi
• Laws and institutions only create more of what they are supposed to eliminate

  • A ruler creates circumstances, a whole world, for the people in which the desired outcome would simply be considered natural. Most effective
  • because if it is no longer an argument, it can’t be argued against.
  • An amoral philosophy; it is not concerned with morality.
    Friday, September 14, 12