Chinese Philosophy Essay

Essay by bluesurf713Junior High, 8th gradeA+, November 2004

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Three areas of philosophy emerged amidst the chaos and constant warring of the Zhou era. The three were called Confucianism, Daoism, and legalism. They were Chinese philosophies that were thought to be the best ways to rule and achieve order in the society. Confucianism believed that a ruler's job was to set a good example, and not order. Since people were thought of as naturally good, they would following the right path based on their own conscience. Legalism was a more harsh way of ruling, led by Hanfeizi. They thought people were evil, and needed strict laws and punishment to keep them in line. Daoism was very different from either of the other two. It was led by Laozi, who taught that the best kind of government was one who governed the least. They allowed things to simply take their natural course and work themselves out. Although both Daoism and legalism were working philosophies, Confucianism was the most effective in obtaining order.

At the time of the three philosophies, Ancient China was in a state of complete chaos. The duration of anarchy was named The Warring States Period, a period in which small feuding kingdoms or fiefdoms struggled for supremacy. It took place in the Zhou dynasty from 403 bc. to 221bc. The period was dominated by seven or more small feuding Chinese kingdoms. It was the age of Confucian thinkers Mencius and Xunzi, and the time when many of the government institutions and cultural patterns that would characterize China for the next 2,000 years were established.

Legalism achieved what all the other philosophies strove for, unification of China. The Qin Dynasty, operating under the Legalist philosophy, finally unified China in 221 BC. Legalism was a success. However, the Qin Dynasty dissolved only 14 years after it's founding. The Qin...