Chinese Philosophy - Simple Guides: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture
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THIS BOOK WILL HELP YOU • to appreciate the variety, subtlety and wisdom of a unique philosophical tradition • to understand the major schools of thought that have shaped Chinese civilization • to draw on a rich cultural resource for different perspectives on questions of our time • to recognize traditional concepts that continue to inform Chinese thinking today China, an emerging superpower, is heir to an ancient civilization that owes little to outside influences. This compelling introduction to Chinese philosophy describes the major traditional schools of thought that continue to underpin much of Chinese thinking today. It includes an outline of the country’s early history, and traces the development of Chinese thought, which evolved in a continuum and generally in isolation from the rest of the world, from the earliest concerns with ritual and divination until the arrival of Buddhism in the first century. The best known strand of Chinese philosophy is Confucianism, which is basically a philosophy of relationships between different levels in a hierarchy, from the ruler down to the individual. In complete contrast, the almost contemporary school of Laozi espoused the wisdom and freedom of the Dao, based on the concept of alignment with nature and reverence for the environment. There followed schools of analytical logic, Legalism, and the arrival of Buddhism, which became associated in China with the mystical writings of Laozi, adding the dimension of compassion. These schools gradually fused in a neo-Confucian synthesis that went unchallenged in China until the encounter with the West. The book touches on the relationship between philosophical thought and politics, and brings the reader up to date by looking at the considered way in which China has adapted foreign ideas in modern times. Written by a distinguished author in clear, everyday language, it is a fascinating and accessible introduction to an important subject. ACCESS THE WORLD'S PHILOSOPHIES Simple Guides: Philosophy is a series of concise introductions to the major philosophies of the world. Written by experts in the field, these accessible guides offer a fascinating account of the rich variety of arguments, ideas and systems of thought articulated by different cultures in the attempt to explore and define the nature of reality and the meaning, purpose and proper conduct of life. The Simple Guides will appeal to analytical thinkers and spiritual seekers alike. Taken together, they provide a basic introduction to the evolution of human thought, and a point of reference for further exploration and discovery. By offering essential insights into the world views of different societies, they also enable travellers to behave in way that fosters mutual respect and understanding.
Traces In approaching the story of Chinese philosophy, it is important to be aware that an identifiably Chinese culture has had a documented existence that spans some 4,000 years. Indeed, there are even older archaeological traces which suggest that its roots may extend at least 2,000 or 3,000 years further back than that, so Chinese cultural patterns pre-date the existence of a single political entity that can be called China, since the unified state only came into being in 221 BCE. For
simple: There are two tools, and two only, by which a ruler guides and controls his ministers. These two tools are punishment and benefit.13 What do I mean by punishment and benefit? I call execution ‘punishment’, and rewards ‘benefit’. Those who are ministers are awed by capital punishment but regard reward as profitable. Therefore if the ruler practices punishment and benefit, then all his ministers will be in awe of his majesty and conform themselves to the advantage he offers. This ‘stick
emperor’s corpse would not be revealed as the body decayed. Zhao Gao seems to have been the instigator, and he moved to persuade the emperor’s younger son, Ying Huhai, to accept the throne instead of Ying Fusu, the elder son, who was persuaded to commit suicide. Zhao Gao then saw to it that Meng Tian, the military official responsible for the establishment of Qin’s defensive wall, was murdered. The remains of Qin Shi Huang Di were interred with due ceremony in his mausoleum, and Ying Huhai became
empress to have ruled China directly. She was conscious of the fact that Confucian theory made it impossible for a woman to become emperor, so she took advantage of a Buddhist sutra (the Da Yun Jing) which predicted that seven hundred years after the Buddha’s death there would arise a pious woman who would rule an empire to which all other nations would submit. Wu Zhao argued that she was indeed the woman foretold by the sutra, and further that she was an incarnation of Maitreya, the future
friction between the two empires, complicated by the fact that at this time the ‘British’ forces in the area were actually the armies of the British East India Company, a private organisation. The Opium Wars and the Tai Ping rebellion * * * Two major conflicts then arose in the nineteenth century, known as the First and Second Opium Wars, in which British and other European trading and commercial interests were ranged against the Chinese armies and navy and the Chinese suffered