The Cambridge illustrated history of China displays and describes the foundations of Chinese philosophy, which were constructed during the Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-256 B.C.). Following the ancient history of China I will discuss the aspects of the culture that help create and establish certain philosophers into existence. To understand the foundation of these philosophers, you must first understand what lead up to the type of environment that they were trying to shape.
At this time, China was ruled by the Kings of the Zhou dynasty, however they were slowly losing their power and control because of the warring states. Slowly, states were becoming more powerful, armies and infantry were even better and more equipped then the current Kings??. This hurt the King??s ability rule over the people. This resulted in assassination attempts and completions on current King??s and the loss of power over their people. During this ??Warring State period?? (403-221 B.C.) China became decentralized and fragmented. The Zhou kings still serve as intermediaries between states but had no real power over the states. Their inability to compete with the militaries of the rivaling states and resulted in state leaders starting to call themselves kings.
During this ??Warring State Period?? subjects related to philosophy were studied and documented by the people. State leaders were very bloodthirsty when it came to war but also understood that there are needed to be certain rules. This leaded to the foundation of ??Rules of War??, which made certain aspects of war morally wrong to do. States couldn??t attack another state if their front lines weren??t ready. States also couldn??t attack one another if one state was mourning the loss of their King. Last but not least, perhaps out of fear of the wrath of the ancestors of defeated rulers. States also wouldn??t kill the whole family of one state; they would leave one family member alive.
During this time the Kings were also looking for ways to rule other states without starting a war. They accomplish by marrying their sons and daughters off to other states. Also occurring at this time were countless advances in military techniques and weaponry. Casting iron, trade, coin development and population growth also push states into war over land, which would not always be solved by marrying offspring. Rulers of these states needed direction, which lead to the first philosophers of China.
The first well-known philosopher was Confucius (551-479 B.C.). Confucius was considered a moral philosopher and believed in inspiring people to do well in every thing they do. He was a strong supporter of the Zhou order that was still around at the time but had very little power. He preached to and identified with the ??learned men??, usually court experts and powerful men who assistant the King. Confucius had a strong faith in the heavens, and believed men??s intentions and acts towards other men are at least as important as those toward gods or ancestor. He believed the gods and ancestors should be at the top of everyone??s life in order to have a peaceful world.
Confucius was a great teacher and had many followers that kept his teachings alive. Books were written about him and by him to helped pass down his beliefs. Mencius (370-300 B.C.) was the first successor to Confucius and was preaching the same beliefs and foundations of Confucius. Following Mencius was Master Xun (310-220 B.C.), who was considered a follower of Confucius even though he explained and rationalized the cosmos with man made beliefs. He believed that the god didn??t care if people prayed to them or not.
The next major philosophy was called Daoism, which were totally against being ruled by King??s and government. They believed in private life and wanted rulers to leave them alone to live their life. They didn??t care much about politics and they believed more in spiritual freedom. The early Daoism is based on two surviving books, the Laozi and Zhuangzi. These two books preached about putting yourself over goods and material things. They preached that people should know less, give up tools and writing, which result in people not desiring the land and goods of their neighbors and won??t start a war.
One of the famous philosophers of Daoism was Zhuangzi who was the writer of the second book. Zhaungzi also viewed that the past was truly history and irrelevant to the current situation. Zhaungzi believed in free the mind of