Political Government


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political government Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism

Amidst the chaos of political instability and constant warring of the Zhou era, arose many intellectual thinkers that brought such a profound impact in the fields of politics, religion, and philosophy.  Even to this day, their influence can be seen on the many matters of China.  Confucianism became the paramount school of thinking and later significant philosophies such as Daoism and Legalism gained immense recognition as well.  Each party had their own proposals for creating an idealistic political society where the many problems they faced in their everyday lives could be eliminated.  All three approaches were very distinct but at the same time, they contained similarities as well.  In my reasoning, I find that Confucianism and Daoism could be paralled in many ways to find several common grounds.  On the other hand, Legalism goes on to take a more unique approach which was much different from the previous two.  
Confucius was born in 551 B.C.E, to a poor family of the lower nobility.  Throughout his life, he relentlessly tried to gain an office with a prominent ruler of the time who was willing to adopt his various concepts.  Unfortunately, Confucius died in 479B.C.E., before such a change ever took place.  However, he succeeded in winning over a handful of devote followers who continued his legacy and Confucianism later went on to become one of the most influential thought systems of Chinese history.  Of his followers, Mencius and Xunzi became one of the most renown.  Since Confucius did not succeed in completing a manual of his views, these followers had to derive their own interpretations of the system, which now formulate, the Analects.  The Analects portray an idealized gentleman, and his various duties in terms of the society, family and rituals.  Confucius explains about the way (Dao) which he believed, that if the people accepted its terms and were willing to abide, they would succeed in creating a utopian society.
By the beginning of the Common Era, another philosophy emerges and gains wide acceptance among the commoners.  Daoism, just like the predecessor and also as the name implies, puts emphasis on the way that a certain individual is to abide to.  Even though the two systems had different concepts about the way, the common denominator of both schools was to achieve total harmony in society.  Confucianism focuses mainly on social order while Daoism puts its central; focus on being one with the nature.
If an individual can practice five things anywhere in the world, he is a man of humanity...reverence, generosity, truthfulness, diligence and kindness (Ebrey 19).  Confucius gentleman has to possess these fine qualities to achieve success.  On the other side of the token, Daoism emphasized the need for similar entities.  Laozi explains: For minds, the depth is good.  In social relations, human-heartedness is good.  In speaking, the trustworthiness is good.  In government order is good (Ebrey 28).  Both systems, through through different approaches, promote peace and goodwill among the family, society and with neighboring states.
Both Confucianism and Daoism accept the presence of a supernatural entity but do not provide a clear explanation on it.  Both thought systems consider it mostly as a mystery that the human mind cannot fully comprehend or alter.  Confucius put great importance in conducting numerous rituals for various occasions.  He found it to be an essential part for the well being of society.  He said, when superiors love ritual, the people are easy to direct (Ebrey 22).  Xunzi provides a more elaborate explanation.  He said Ritual conduct is the perfection of decorum...Sages comprehend it, gentleman comfortably carries them out, officials preserves them and the common people consider them custom (Ebrey 25).  The same sense of mystery or vagueness can be sensed in Daoism.  Laozi said, The way that can be discussed is not the constant way...nameless is the source of Heaven and earth...Their identity can be called a mystery (Ebrey 27).
Both Confucianism and Daoism disfavored a harsh government.  Confucius urged to lead the people with virtue and rituals as opposed to government policies and punishment.  He believed that the ruler should gain respect through his deeds rather that achieving it through his status and authority.  Likewise, Daoism disliked the emphasis of status being displayed in ... more

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Middle Ages

The history of the modern world derives from thousands of years of human history.  Embedded in its history are the many eras of man which have constructed our modern learning, art, beliefs, and order.  The middle ages, although represented as dark, backwards, and idle, were in fact a bridge linking the classical and modern world.  Medieval society may not have been in a sense glorious, but the era of itself was a prime foundation of the modern worlds newfound stability, a revival of the law and teachings from the classical era, a reinvestment and reform in the church, and a precursor to the golden age of art.
The government of the middle ages, as convoluted and variable as it was, ended up giving way to a powerful revival of monarchial control.  The feudal age had erupted due to the monarchs inability to rule and defend holistically its country during Norse and foreign invasions in the 700s to 1000s AD.  The emphasis shifted instead to local lords and nobles who drew the kings power for greater local stability.  This system flourished under an influenced and uneducated nation, however, the rise of the middle and working classes put a change to that.  Skilled merchants began to form guilds, universities and learning groups educated citizens, and a strengthening economy led the middle classes to object to feudal lords taxes and form their own charters of towns.  The educated middle class was now able to run their town fairly efficiently, which in turn, decreased influence of feudal lords and revived the power and influence of the monarchy.  The king could now depend on his educated townspeople to run their town.  AS revolutionary as the transition was to the feudal system, the practice proved to be efficient in the modern world.
The influence of universities and merchants, as seen, changed the kingdom.  Medieval universities were first formed in the 12th century AD after a need for educated public officials became evident.  Schools like the Law School at Bologna as well as medical schools gave towns lawyers, judges and capable local officials.  Other schools like the University of Paris taught scholars literature and theology.  The breed of Renaissance thinking was most likely developed in such places.  Scholars like Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas led an interest in the study of classical Greek and Roman philosophy.  This interest, along with challenged perspectives of the time eventually led to modern science.  Guilds, as afore-mentioned, were monopolistic practices over certain trades set by merchants.  They virtually eliminated competition and ensured quality.  Compared to Renaissance art, and Shakespearean and Elizabethan literature the precursor saw little.  However, works like Chaucers Canterbury Tales were popular, and the Gothic architectural style laid a foundation for many cathedrals and buildings.  It is still a dominant facade in todays world and was relished in modern Western Europe.  A powerful education system and study of art are necessary for societys to flourish and carry its roots into the next era; the effects of the middle ages therein are obvious.  The middle ages staged to recall and then reform the religious concepts of the day.  Since all aspects of society, including religious, are influenced by a changing society, the religion of the middle ages progressed accordingly.  The feudal age of religion may have witnessed a hierarchy in its system, but as the ages progressed, society, including kings and church scholars, argued for a reform in church government.  Likewise, as scholars found contradictions in religion, church practices were challenged and the very popes and bishops were unpopular.  The ideas and preaching of those like John Wycliffe and Jan Hus faced the church with a possible full-scale rebellion.  The church willingly compromised, however these were early warning signs of the reformations of the modern world.  The church, try as it might, could not barge a developing society and mind.  
The developments of the political, cultural, and religious societies of the middle ages influenced each other and were in turn influenced by the people.  The early middle ages and the whole age in general might be looked at as backward, however the changes it inspired need only be seen in the vibrant modern world that would follow.  Solely based on its ... more

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