ETHRSON 18 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Tzu, Han Feizi, Mohism

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26 Jun 2018
ER 18 Chinese Philosophy Lecture Notes
Lecture 2: 9/7/16: The Axial Age in China
We all have our own assumptions about how the world works
In an era of liberation, we are living in world of globalization
We have TONS to learn from the rest of the world and throughout human history, and it
sheds a light on the world we take for granted
oExamining the past results in us looking at our own world differently
Attempts to break from the times that came before has been going on for quite a long
Today’s lecture is a jump through the world’s history
When did it begin? When we were getting these hierarchical societies and such?
oAbout 10,000 years ago was when domestication began, settling down took place
oEmergence of cities and such
oThis then gave way to the development of complex societies
Metallurgy came into play and is making societies hierarchical
oAristocracy was using bronze
oThis was the Bronze Age (3000-2000 BCE)
oThese materials were spreading across all of Eurasia
Societies began to form which looked all very similar
Crucial turning point: 1st millennium BCE: All of the societies which had recently formed
began to crumble
oPeople began to realize a natural substance was able to replace bronze
oMass production of iron weapons allowed for people to expand greatly
This included agricultural tools as well
oRadical increase of the population resulted from this
Tons of people were not happy that they were not born into the aristocracy
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oStrong push for social mobility began; breaking apart the aristocratic worlds
Our use of the term traditional changes over time in relation to various governing systems
Most of the great philosophical ideas we developed are traced back to the period of
reworking the traditional ideas
What happens if we realize that humans are building worlds and trying to change the
worlds they live in to create better societies for themselves?
Bronze Age throughout Asia was similar
oHierarchical and such
What were things like before the Bronze Age?
oThere was a society based entirely upon ethical cultivation
Trying to make themselves good human beings
oMost moral person would give their morals to their descendants
oSingle lineage began to show who rulers were
The idea that the MORALITY of someone should be what determines rule is key
At the point at which the ruler fails to be moral, they not only can, but SHOULD be
Heaven was a moral agent
oHeaven would oversee this process
oHeaven can withdraw the mandate and begin a new dynasty
The first three dynasties in China were all the Bronze Age dynasties
After the third dynasty begins to crumble, there is no other aristocratic family to rule
Warring States Period
oWhen the third dynasty falls, all of the small areas of the previous kingdom begin
to be independent and start the experimentation process of other governments and
oSuccessful governments experiment with more radical forms of government
Rules and laws that apply to everyone
People are rated upon merit, not by birth
Trying to take these ideas of merit, and getting a state to function that way
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Are we really doing the best job living our lives?
How are we able to tell is we are actually living morally?
Why do we do the things we do?
Lecture 4: 9/14/16: Ritual and Ethics
Follow rituals and overcome the self
oFrom Confucius
If Confucius is right, we are really just messy creatures interacting with other messy
creatures that fall into following patterns of odd behavior, which then needs to be
overcome by following rituals
oQuestion at the end of Monday’s lecture: rituals are still patterns that you are
following, so how are you breaking from the set of patterns if you are following a
new set of patterns?
When we die who knows what happens? No one. We have no idea
oBut should we do the sacrifice? YES. But make it into a ritual
Do the rituals as if the dead person is present
oConnection with the dead person is key
oGood descendent to you, you are an ancestor to me, I will develop the importance
of those who came before me
oLearn and grow from those who came before
When you start doing rituals, you are becoming a different person in that moment
oYou become aware self-consciously that the people or person you’re interacting
with begin changing too
What you are learning in the ritual is how messy everyone is and you learn how to better
interact with other messy people in certain situations
oRelationships then begin changing fundamentally
“Goodness” for Confucius means a good sensing of situations, and seeing the patterns
playing out, and figuring out the best ways to alter the patterns for the better
Maybe we are living in a world where people live in these patterns and we continue them
throughout the generations
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