Pre-modern East Asian History
From 256-195 BCE, the first emperor of Han, called Emperor Gao; set up his capital at
Chang-An. The significance of Liu Bang in history is that he cooperated with Xiang Yu
and destroyed Qin, afterwards they fought against each other for their own dynasty
while Liu Bang successfully attacked Xiang Yu and begin the Han dynasty.
The emperor that had the greatest impact on Chinese culture and society in Han
dynasty; in significance, he developed good culture and government. One thing he
had done was to send armies troops into Xiongnu territory in order to push the
Confucianism: Emperor Wu was the first Han emperor to privilege Confucian
scholars within the government. He listened to Dong Zhongshu, a Confucian scholar.
Confucius, 551-479 B.C.E, the first and the most important thinker of ideas to
influence/improve/develop rulers and form a better society in early Zhou. His ideas
are recorded by his disciples in the Analects. The significance historically is that
Confucianism is still powerful in today’s education in Asia since he taught things
ethically rather than theoretical or metaphysically that people can become a “junzi,”
a true gentlemen to be ethical to the 5 relationships, such as relationship between
ruler and subject, husband and wife, father and son, elder and younger and also
Chinese family like: Confucianism helped to shape the Chinese family system
Han form: Han scholars attempted to make Confucianism more useful as a moral
guidance by writing books that explained ancient language; referring to The Five
Classics of Book of Changes (易), Book of Documents(書), Book of Poetry(詩), Spring
and Autumn Annals(春秋) and Book of Rites(禮).
The virtues were developed by Confucius that Ren as in benevolence; xiao as in filial
piety; yi as integrity; zhong as loyalty; xin as honesty; jing as respect and li as ritual
A Chinese thinker in the period of Warring States and is also the title of the book.
He’s idea could be concern as one of the responses to Confucianism; he contributed
Daoist philosophy that deals with personal freedom.
Writing had became a major element in chinese culture by 1200 BC. Shang dynasty
developed writing, referring to oracle bones(甲骨文).
One of the four states in the Spring and Autumn period; the others were Qin(west),
Jin(north) and Qi(east). Chu kept expanding from Western Zhou time on and became
one of the strongest and most innovative states, it absorbed 50 or more small states
as it expanded toward east and north. It was also the first to form countries outside
of their official lands. It later conquered the state of Yue and then became a full
participant in the alliance to maintain more power.
Mencius, supported Confucius’ points, and also pointed out that human nature was
actually good as people is born with good moral and people have the ability to
differentiate right and wrong.
Xunzi, opposed Mencius’s point of view to human nature, he thought that people are
born selfish and thus people need to be educated and taught in order to understand
and obey their norms.
Mozi, challenged Confucius’ ideas. He said that “conflict could eliminated if everyone
gave other people’s families and states and same concern he gave his own,” which
means to treat other people as how you would like to be treated.
Daoism, disagreed with Confucianism; Laozi and Zhuangzi thought it’s better if rulers
can leave people alone; let them think freely.
Laozi said that “people would be better off if they knew less, gave up tools,
renounced writing, stopped envying their neighbors, and lost their desire to travel or
Legalism, “strong government depended not on the moral qualities of the ruler and
his officials, as Confucians claimed, but on establishing effective laws and procedures.”
Referring to Han Feizi.
The great exponent in Legalism in the 3 century. He warned rulers that “when the
ruler trusts someone, he falls under that person’s control.” He suggested that rulers better make their own laws and prohibitions clear; as well as rewards and
punishments in order to easier governing people. As a result, Qin was the only
dynasty which followed his theory.
Xia, Shang, Zhou
The Eastern Zhou was divided into the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring
States period. What happened in the Warring States was recorded in The Intrigues of
the Warring States, and the other one is called the Discourses of the States.
Buddhism in China
A religion founded by Siddhartha Gautama, also called Shakyamuni. “The central
concepts were samsara(to reincarnation), the transmigration of soul by a continual
process of rebirth, and karma, the tally of good and bed deeds that determined the
status of an individual’s next life.”
“There was no all-knowing god who judge people and could be petitioned to forgive a sin.”
“Each individual was responsible for his or her own destiny in a just and impartial
“The optimistic interpretation of samsara was that people could improve their lot
in the next life by living righteously.”
“The pessimistic view was that life is a treadmill, a relentless cycle of birth and