How was China governed, and what was life like during the Zhou Dynasty?


Confucius and his followers believed in moral action. They thought men of virtue should devote themselves to making the government work to the benefit of the people. Those who came to be labeled Daoists disagreed. They thought striving to make things better generally made them worse. They sought to go beyond everyday concerns and to let their minds wander freely. Rather than making human beings and human actions the center of concern, they focused on the larger scheme of things, the whole natural order identified as the Way, or Dao (DOW).

Dao The Way, a term used by Daoists to refer to the natural order.

Early Daoist teachings are known from two surviving books, the third century B.C.E. Laozi (LOU-dzuh), the putative author of the the text ascribed to him has been of enduring importance. A recurrent theme in this brief, aphoristic text is the mystical superiority of yielding over assertion and silence over words: “The Way that can be discussed is not the constant Way.” Because purposeful action is counterproductive, the ruler should let people return to a natural state of ignorance and contentment:

Do not exalt the worthy, so that the people shall not compete.

Do not value rare treasures, so that the people shall not steal.

Do not display objects of desire, so that the people’s hearts shall not be disturbed.

Therefore in the government of the sage,

He keeps their hearts vacuous,

Fills their bellies,

Weakens their ambitions,

And strengthens their bones.

He always causes his people to be without knowledge or desire,

And the crafty to be afraid to act.

By acting without action, all things will be in order.

In the philosophy of the Laozi, the 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 engage in war.

Zhuangzi ( JWANG-dzuh) (369–286 B.C.E.), the author of the book of the same name, shared many of the central ideas of the Laozi. The Zhuangzi is filled with parables, flights of fancy, and fictional encounters between historical figures, including Confucius and his disciples. A more serious strain of Zhuangzi’s thought concerned death. He questioned whether we can be sure life is better than death. When a friend expressed shock that Zhuangzi was not weeping at his wife’s death but rather singing, Zhuangzi explained:

When she died, how could I help being affected? But as I think the matter over, I realize that originally she had no life; and not only no life; she had no form; not only no form, she had no material force. In the limbo of existence and non-existence, there was transformation and the material force was evolved. The material force was transformed to be form, form was transformed to become life, and now birth has transformed to become death. This is like the rotation of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter. Now she lies

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The Assyrians and the Persians How did the Assyrians and the Persians consolidate their power and control the subjects of their empires?

Small kingdoms like those of the Phoenicians and the Jews could exist only in the absence of a major power. In the ninth century B.C.E. one major power arose in the form of the Assyrians, who starting in northern Mesopotamia created an empire through often-brutal military conquests. And from a base in what is now southern Iran, the Persians established an even larger empire, devel- oping effective institutions of government.

Assyria, the Military Monarchy Starting from a base in northern Mesopotamia around 900 of expansion and domination, conquering, exacting tribute, palaces, and temples. By means of almost constant warfare, the Assyrians created an empire that stretched from their capital of Nineveh on the Tigris River to central Egypt. Revolt against the Assyrians inevitably promised the rebels bloody battles and cruel sieges followed by surrender, accompanied by systematic torture and slaughter, and sometimes deportations.

Assyrian Warriors Attack a City In this Assyrian carving from a royal throne room made about 865 warriors cross a river on inflated skins, which both support them and provide air for breathing underwater. Such innovative techniques, combined with a large army and effective military organization, allowed the As‐ syrians to establish a large empire.

Assyrian methods were certainly harsh, but in practical terms Assyria’s success was due pri- marily to the size of its army and to the army’s sophisticated and effective military organization. In addition, the Assyrians developed a wide variety of siege machinery and techniques, including excavations to undermine city walls and battering rams to knock down walls and gates. Never before in this area had anyone applied such technical knowledge to warfare. The Assyrians also knew how to coordinate their efforts, both in open battle and in siege warfare. Not only did the Assyrians know how to win battles, but they also knew how to take advantage of their victories. As early as the eighth century B.C.E., the Assyrian kings began to organize their conquered terri-

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tories into an empire. The lands closest to Assyria became provinces governed directly by Assyr- ian officials. Kingdoms beyond the provinces were not annexed but became dependent states.

By the seventh century B.C.E. Assyrian power seemed firmly established. Yet the downfall of Assyria was swift and complete. Babylon won its independence in 626 with a new group, the Medes, an Indo-European-speaking people from Persia. Together the Babylonians and the Medes destroyed the Assyrian Empire in 612 rise of the Persians.

The Rise and Expansion of the Persian Empire As we have seen, Assyria rose to power from a base in the Tigris and Euphrates River Valleys of Mesopotamia, which had seen many earlier empires. The Assyrians were defeated by a coalition that included not only a Mesopotamian power — Babylon — but also a people with a base of power in a part of the world that had not been the site of earlier urbanized states: Persia (modern- day Iran) (Map 2.3).

MAP 2.3 The Assyrian and Persian Empires, ca. 1000–500 around 650 B.C.E. included almost all of the old centers of power in the ancient Near East. By 500 however, the Persian Empire was far larger, extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indus River.

Iran’s geographical position and topography explain its traditional role as the highway be- tween western and eastern Asia. Nomadic peoples migrating south from the broad steppes of Russia and Central Asia have streamed into Iran throughout much of history. (For an in-depth discussion of these groups, see Chapter 12.) Confronting the uncrossable salt deserts, most have turned either westward or eastward, moving on until they reached the advanced and wealthy ur- ban centers of Mesopotamia and India. Cities did emerge along these routes, however, and Iran became the area where nomads met urban dwellers.

Among these nomads were Indo-European-speaking peoples who migrated into this area about 1000 B.C.E. with their flocks and herds. They were also horse breeders, and the horse gave them a decisive military advantage over those who already lived in the area. One of these groups was the Medes, who settled in northern Iran. With the rise of the Medes, the balance of power in western Asia shifted east of Mesopotamia for the first time.

western Asia shifted east of Mesopotamia for the first time. In 550 B.C.E. Cyrus the Great (r. 559–530 B.C.E.

ropean-speaking group) and one of the most remarkable statesmen of antiquity, conquered the Medes. Cyrus then set out to win control of the shore of the Mediterranean and thus of the termi- nal ports of the great trade routes that crossed Iran and Anatolia and to secure eastern Iran from the threats of nomadic invasions. In a series of major campaigns Cyrus achieved both goals, thereby consolidating the Persian Empire, though he ultimately died on the battlefield in eastern Iran.

After his victories, Cyrus made sure the Persians were portrayed as liberators, and in some cases he was more benevolent than most conquerors. According to his own account, he freed all the captive peoples, including the Hebrews, who were living in forced exile in Babylon. He re- turned the Hebrews’ sacred objects to them and allowed those who wanted to do so to return to Jerusalem, where he paid for the rebuilding of their temple. (See Divine Favor for Babylonians and Hebrews,” page 54

Cyrus’s successors continued the Persian conquests, creating the largest empire the world had yet seen. Darius (r. 521–486 B.C.E.) conquered Scythia in Central Asia, along with much of Thrace and Macedonia, areas north of the Aegean Sea (see self “King of Kings.” Invasions of Greece by Darius and his son Xerxes were unsuccessful, but the Persian Empire lasted another two hundred years, until it became part of the empire of Alexander the Great (see “From Polis to Monarchy, 404–200

The Persians also knew how to preserve the peace they had won on the battlefield. To govern the empire, they created an efficient administrative system based in their newly built capital city of Persepolis. Under Darius, they divided the empire into districts and appointed either Persian or local nobles as administrators called satraps to head each one. The satrap controlled local govern- ment, collected taxes, heard legal cases, and maintained order. He was assisted by a council and also by officials and army leaders sent from Persepolis who made sure that he knew the will of the king and that the king knew what was going on in the provinces. The Persians allowed the peoples they conquered to maintain their own customs and beliefs as long as they paid the proper amount of taxes and did not rebel, thus creating a culture that blended older and newer religious traditions and ways of seeing the world. Because Persian art depicted both Persians and non-Per- sians realistically, it is an excellent source of information about the weapons, tools, clothing, and even hairstyles of many peoples of the area.

Communication and trade were eased by a sophisticated system of roads linking the empire from the coast of Asia Minor to the valley of the Indus River. These roads meant that the king was usually in close touch with officials and subjects, and they simplified the defense of the em- pire by making it easier to move Persian armies. The roads also aided the flow of trade, which Persian rulers further encouraged by building canals, including one that linked the Red Sea and the Nile.

Gold Model of Horse-Drawn Chariot Two men dressed in the style of the Medes drive a four-horse chariot in this small model made entirely of gold. In the nineteenth century a huge collection of silver and gold ob‐ jects from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. was found on the banks of the Oxus River in what is now Ta‐ jikistan. Most likely, the spot had been a ferry crossing and the objects had been buried long ago.

The Religion of Zoroaster Persian religion was originally polytheistic and tied to nature, with Ahuramazda (ah-HOOR-uh- MAZ-duh) as the chief god. Around 600 B.C.E. the ideas of Zoroaster (zoh-roh-ASS-tuhr), a thinker and preacher whose dates are uncertain, began to gain prominence. Zoroaster is regarded as the author of key religious texts, which were later gathered together in a collection of sacred texts called the Avesta. He introduced new spiritual concepts, stressing devotion to Ahuramazda alone and emphasizing the individual’s responsibility to choose between the forces of creation, truth, and order and those of nothingness, chaos, falsehood, and disorder. Zoroaster taught that people possessed free will and that they must rely on their own consciences to guide them through an active life in which they focused on “good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.” Their decisions were crucial, he warned, for there would come a time of reckoning. At the end of time, the forces of order would win, and the victorious Ahuramazda, like the Egyptian god Osiris, would preside over a last judgment to determine each person’s eternal fate.

Zoroaster’s writings were communicated by teachers, and King Darius began to use Zoroas- trian language and images. Under the protection of the Persian kings, Zoroastrian ideas spread throughout Iran and the rest of the Persian Empire, and then into central China. survived the fall of the Persian Empire to influence Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, largely because of its belief in a just life on earth and a happy afterlife. Good behavior in the world, even though unrecognized at the time, would receive ample reward in the hereafter. Evil, no matter how powerful a person had been in life, would be punished after death. In some form or another, Zoroastrian concepts still pervade many modern religions, and Zoroastrianism still exists as a religion.

Zoroastrianism Religion based on the teachings of Zoroaster that emphasized the individual’s responsibility to choose between good and evil.


Ideas About the Divine Realm Diverse ideas about the nature of gods, ghosts, ancestors, and demons can be seen in early Chinese sources of many kinds. Confucius strongly supported the practice of ritual, especially sacrifices to ances‐ tors, but he avoided talk about gods or ghosts, preferring to focus on the human world. Written sources from the next several centuries show that interest in the divine realm remained strong. This theme can also be seen in funerary art.

1Mozi, from The Mozi. Master Mo, in the century after Confucius, objected to many Confucian teach‐ings, arguing that Confucius’s followers spent too much time and resources on useless rituals and that they encouraged people to put their own relatives first rather than helping all impartially. He used utility as a standard, asking whether an idea or practice would lead people to act in desirable ways. He sometimes used stories to get his point across, as he does below.

Long ago, in the time of Lord Zhuang of Qi [794–731 named Wangli Guo and Zhongli Jiao. These two men had been engaged in a lawsuit for three years, but no judgment had been handed down. Lord Zhuang thought of executing them both, but he was afraid of killing an innocent man. He also thought of acquitting them both, but he was afraid of setting free one who was guilty. He therefore ordered the two men to bring a lamb and take an oath on the Qi altar of the soil. The two men agreed to take the oath of blood. The throat of the lamb was cut, its blood sprinkled on the altar, and Wangli Guo’s version of the case read through to the end. Zhongli Jiao’s version was read, but before it had been read half through, the lamb rose up, butted Zhongli Jiao, broke his leg, and then struck him down on the altar. At that time there were none of the attendants of Qi who did not see what happened, and no one in distant regions who did not hear about it. It was recorded in the spring and autumn annals of Qi, and the feudal lords handed down the story, saying, “All those who take oaths in insincerity will incur the punishment of the ghosts and spirits with just such rapidity!” If we ex- amine what is written in the book, how can we doubt that ghosts and spirits exist?

Therefore Mozi said: Even in the deep valleys, the broad forests, the dark and distant places where no one lives, you must not fail to act with sincerity, for the ghosts and spirits will see you even there!

2Xunzi, from The Xunzi. Xunzi, the leading Confucian teacher of the late Warring States Period, wasunusual in explicitly discussing the consequences of making appeals to the gods. You pray for rain and it rains. Why? For no particular reason, I say. It is just as though you

had not prayed for rain and it rained anyway. The sun and moon undergo an eclipse and you try to save them; a drought occurs and you pray for rain; you consult the arts of divination before making a decision on some important matter. But it is not as though you could hope to accom- plish anything by such ceremonies. They are done merely for ornament. Hence the gentleman regards them as ornaments, but the common people regard them as supernatural.

3Spellbinding. In recent decades archaeologists have found books in Warring States and Han tombsthat did not survive elsewhere. Several of these texts deal with determining lucky and unlucky days, quelling demons, and other occult lore. Below is just a small selection from a lengthy text on spellbinding.

When without cause a demon deludes a person — this is the Enticing Demon who likes to sport with people. Make a staff from mulberry heartwood. When the demon comes, strike it. It will die of terror….

When without cause the people in a household all become diseased, most of whom suffer from nightmares and die — this is the Childbirth Demon who is buried there. There is not grass

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from nightmares and die — this is the Childbirth Demon who is buried there. There is not grass or matting above it. Dig it up and get rid of it. Then it will stop….

When without cause the stove cannot cook food — the Yang Demon has taken its vapor (qi). Burn pig feces inside the house. Then it will stop.

4The Songs of Chu. Late Warring States poetry from the southern state of Chu was traditionally at‐tributed to Qu Yuan (ca. 340–278 B.C.E.), a passionate man who threw himself into the river because his lord rejected him. In the three stanzas here from a longer poem, the author flies through the heav‐ ens in the company of gods.

“Open them wide, the gates of the heavens, in a mass I come riding dark purple clouds, and charge the whirlwinds to speed on ahead, commanding a downpour to moisten the dust.”

My Lord sweeps in circles, then He descends, It is I who go with you past Mount Kong-sang. “Earth’s nine domains are teeming with men; and their spans, long or short, depend upon me.”

High off we fly, steadily soaring, riding pure vapors, He drives Shadow and Light; then I and my Lord, dashing swiftly ahead, lead on the High God down to Nine Hills

5Painting on a coffin. The coffin of Marquis Zeng of Yi, buried in 433 figures holding weapons; the figures are thought to be protecting the deceased.

ANALYZING THE EVIDENCE 1. What types of powers did the writers of Sources 1–4 assume spirits had? 2. Based on all the sources, do you think most educated people would have agreed with Xunzi? Why or

why not? 3. Could regional differences account for some of the differences in the ideas about spirits expressed in

these sources? Explain your answer. 4. Do you see any similarities between the ideas about unseen powers in early China and those in oth‐

er places? If so, what are the similarities? 5. Would thinking in the ways described in these sources have much impact on how people lived their

lives? Explain your answer.


Using the sources above, along with what you have learned in class and in this chapter, write a short essay that analyzes the diversity of ideas about spiritual beings in early China. Is there any‐ thing that ties these ideas together? Or are the differences of greater significance than the similarities? Sources: (1, 2) Burton Watson, trans., The Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu versity Press, 1967), pp. 98–99, 85. Reproduced with permission of COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS in the format Republish in a book via Copyright Clearance Center; (3) “Spellbinding,” in Religions of China in Practice (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 244–245. Reproduced with permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS in the format Book via Copyright Clearance Center; (4) An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911 and trans. Stephen Owen. Copyright © 1996 by Stephen Owen and The Council for Cultural Planning and Development of the Executive Yuan of the Republic of China. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.


4 China’s Classical Age to 221 B.C.E.

Attendant with Birds This bronze lamp stand from the region of the Zhou royal tombs dates to the Warring States Period.

n comparison to India and Mesopotamia, China developed in relative isolation. Communication with West and South Asia was very difficult, impeded by high mountains and vast deserts. Though there was some trade, the distances were so great that they did not allow the kind of cross-fertilization

that occurred in western Eurasia. Moreover, there were no cultural breaks comparable to the rise of the Aryans in India or the Assyrians in Mesopotamia to introduce new peoples and languages. The impact of early China’s relative isolation is found in many distinctive features of its culture. Perhaps the most important is its writing system; unlike the other major societies of Eurasia, China retained a logographic writing system with a symbol for each word. This writing system shaped not only Chi‐ nese literature and thought but also key social and political processes, such as the nature of the rul‐ ing class and interactions with non-Chinese peoples.

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Chinese history is commonly discussed in terms of a succession of dynasties. The Shang Dy‐ nasty (ca. 1500–1050 B.C.E.) was the first to have writing, metalworking, cities, and chariots. The Shang kings played priestly roles, serving as intermediaries with both their royal ancestors and the high god Di. The Shang were overthrown by one of their vassal states, which founded the Zhou Dy‐ nasty (ca. 1050). The Zhou rulers set up a decentralized feudal governmental structure that evolved over centuries into a multistate system, with the Zhou Dynasty itself not abolished until 256 warfare between the states intensified in the sixth century ened. Aristocratic privileges declined, and China entered one of its most creative periods, when the philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism were developed.


THE EMERGENCE OF CIVILIZATION IN CHINA What was the impact of China’s geography on the development of Chinese societies?

THE SHANG DYNASTY, CA. 1500–1050 B.C.E. What was life like during the Shang Dynasty, and what effect did writing have on Chinese culture and government?

THE EARLY ZHOU DYNASTY, CA. 1050–400 How was China governed, and what was life like during the Zhou Dynasty?

THE WARRING STATES PERIOD, 403–221 B.C.E. How did advances in military technology contribute to the rise of independent states?

CONFUCIUS AND HIS FOLLOWERS What ideas did Confucius teach, and how were they spread after his death?

DAOISM, LEGALISM, AND OTHER SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT How did the teachings of Daoism, Legalism, and other schools of thought differ from those of Confucianism?

was also the center of active seaborne trade, with networks reaching all the way to Rome. In- dian sailing technology was highly advanced, and much of this trade was in the hands of Indian merchants. Roman traders based in Egypt followed the routes already used by Arab traders, sail- ing with the monsoon from the Red Sea to the west coast of India in about two weeks, and return- ing about six months later when the direction of the winds reversed. In the first century Greek merchant involved in this trade reported that the traders sold coins, topaz, coral, crude glass, copper, tin, and lead and bought pearls, ivory, silk (probably originally from China), jewels of many sorts (probably many from Southeast Asia), and above all cinnamon and pepper. More Roman gold coins of the first and second centuries India than in any other area.

Lotus Gatherer This image of a woman gathering lotuses is from Sittanavasal Cave, a second-century- rock-cut temple in Tamil Nadu near the south end of India.

During these centuries there were significant advances in science, mathematics, and philoso- phy. Indian astronomers charted the movements of stars and planets and recognized that the earth was spherical. In the realm of physics, Indian scientists, like their Greek counterparts, conceived of matter in terms of five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and ether. This was also the period when Indian law was codified. The Code of ManuCode of Manu, which lays down family, caste, and commercial law, was compiled in the second or third century

Code of Manu The codification of early Indian law that lays down family, caste, and commercial law.

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Regional cultures tend to flourish when there is no dominant unifying state, and the Tamils of south India were one of the major beneficiaries of the collapse of the Mauryan Dynasty. The peri- od from 200 B.C.E. to 200 C.E. is considered the classical period of Tamil culture, when many great works of literature were written under the patronage of the regional kings. Some of the po- ems written then provide evidence of lively commerce, mentioning bulging warehouses, ships from many lands, and complex import-export procedures. From contact of this sort, the south came to absorb many cultural elements from the north, but also retained differences. Castes were present in the south before contact with the Sanskrit north, but took distinct forms, as the Ksha- triya (warrior) and Vaishya (merchant) varnas were hardly known in the far south.

become death. This is like the rotation of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall, and winter. Now she lies asleep in the great house [the universe]. For me to go about weeping and wailing would be to show my ignorance of destiny. Therefore I desist.7

Zhuangzi was similarly iconoclastic in his political philosophy. In one parable a wheelwright insolently tells a duke that books are useless because all they contain are the dregs of men long dead. The duke, offended, threatens execution unless the wheelwright can explain his remark. The wheelwright responds by arguing that truly skilled craftsmen respond to situations spontaneously; they do not analyze or reason or even keep in mind the rules they have mastered. The most important truths they know cannot be written down or even explained to others. This strain of Daoist thought denies the validity of verbal reasoning and the sorts of knowledge conveyed through words.

Daoism can be seen as a response to Confucianism, a rejection of many of its basic premises. Nevertheless, over the course of Chinese history, many people felt the pull of both Confucian and Daoist ideas and studied the writings of both schools. Even Confucian scholars who had devoted much of their lives to public service might find that the teachings of the Laozi or Zhuangzi


Over the course of the fourth and third centuries B.C.E. number of surviving states dwindled. Rulers fearful that their states might be next were ready to listen to political theorists who claimed expertise in the accumulation of power. These theorists, labeled because of their emphasis on the need for rigorous laws, argued that strong government depended not on the moral qualities of the ruler and his officials, as Confucians claimed, but on the establishment of effective laws and procedures. Legalism, though eventually discredited, laid the basis for China’s later bureaucratic government.

Legalists Political theorists who emphasized the need for rigorous laws and laid the basis for China’s later bureaucratic government.

In the fourth century B.C.E. the western state of Qin radically reformed itself along Legalist lines. The king of Qin abolished the aristocracy. Social distinctions objective criterion of the number of enemy heads cut off in battle. In place of the old fiefs, the Qin king created counties and appointed officials to govern them according to the laws he decreed at court. To increase the population, Qin recruited migrants from other states with offers of land and houses. To encourage farmers to work hard and improve their land, they were allowed to buy and sell it. Ordinary farmers were thus freed from serf-like obligations to the local nobility, but direct control by the state could be even more onerous. Taxes and labor service obligations were heavy. Travel required a permit, and vagrants could be forced into penal labor service. All families were grouped into mutual responsibility groups of five and ten families; whenever anyone in the group committed a crime, all the others were equally liable unless they reported it.

Inlaid Wine Flask In the same period when the Hundred Schools of Thought competed, bronze craftsmen developed new and imaginative ways to decorate bronze vessels. The lively diagonal design on this bronze wine flask was created by pounding silver into planned spaces.

Photo of inlaid wine flask. The flask is drum-shaped, with flat sides to the front and back. There are two handles, one on each rounded side, and a spout at the top. The bronze flask features a diagonal design created by pounding silver into planned spaces.

Legalism found its greatest exponent in Han Feizi (ca. 280–233 master Xunzi but had little interest in Confucian values of goodness or ritual. In his writings he warned rulers of the political pitfalls awaiting them. They had to be careful where they placed their trust, for “when the ruler trusts someone, he falls under that person’s control.” Given subordinates’ propensities to pursue their own selfish interests, the ruler should keep them ignorant of his intentions and control them by manipulating competition among them. Warmth, affection, or candor should have no place in his relationships with others.

In Han Feizi’s view, if rulers would make the laws and prohibitions clear and the rewards and punishments automatic, then the officials and common people would be easy to govern. Uniform laws get people to do things they would not otherwise be inclined to do, such as work hard and fight wars; such laws are thus essential to the goal of establishing hegemony over all the other states.

The laws of the Legalists were designed as much to constrain officials as to regulate the common people. The third-century-B.C.E. tomb of a Qin official has yielded statutes detailing the rules for keeping accounts, supervising subordinates, managing penal labor, conducting investigations, and many other responsibilities of officials. Infractions were generally punishable through the imposition of fines.

Legalism saw no value in intellectual debate or private opinion. Divergent views of right and wrong lead to weakness and disorder. The ruler should not allow others to undermine his laws by questioning them. In

weakness and disorder. The ruler should not allow others to undermine his laws by questioning them. In Legalism, there were no laws above or independent of on rulers’ actions in the way that natural or divine laws did in Greek thought.

Rulers of several states adopted some Legalist ideas, but only the state of Qin systematically followed them. The extraordinary but brief success Qin had with these policies is discussed in

Yin and Yang

Confucians, Daoists, and Legalists had the greatest long-term impact on Chinese civilization, but the Hundred Schools of Thought also included everyone from logicians, hedonists, and utopians to natural philosophers who analyzed the workings of nature.

A key idea developed by the natural philosophers was the concept of divination manual called the Book of Changes (ca. 900 theories by late Zhou theorists. Yin is the feminine, dark, receptive, yielding, negative, and weak; yang is the masculine, bright, assertive, creative, positive, and strong. Yin and yang are complementary poles rather than distinct entities or opposing forces. The movement of yin and yang accounts for the transition from day to night and from summer to winter. These models based on observation of nature were extended to explain not only phenomena we might classify as natural, such as illness, storms, and earthquakes, but also social phenomena, such as the rise and fall of states and conflict in families. In all these realms, unwanted things happen when the balance between yin and yang gets disturbed.

yin and yang A concept of complementary poles, one of which represents the feminine, dark, and receptive, and the other the masculine, bright, and assertive.

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