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Outlines Of Ancient Chinese Philosophy


Introducing Ancient Chinese Philosophy

Philosophy is generally one of people's way of life and values to the structure upon which people lead their lives. Traditional Chinese philosophy originated during the reign of the Chou Dynasty (11th century BC to 221 BC) in the 'Spring and Autumn' (B.C.772-481 BC) and the 'Warring Kingdoms' period (475-221 BC year). But even earlier elements of ancient Chinese philosophy are also found available; For example, the 'I Ching' or 'Book of Changes' on miracles can be mentioned here.

The first dynasty of ancient China was the 'Shia' (from the 22nd century BC 17th century BC).Then during the rule of the 'Shang' dynasty (from the 17th century BC to the 11th century BC), folk-philosophies based on the order of nature, evolution and seasonal cycles were prevalent in traditional Chinese religion, along with the worship of the powerful deity Shangti and ancestors. The influence of this folk-philosophy can be seen at all stages of Chinese history.In contrast to the one-dimensional concept of time according to Western philosophy, the ancient Chinese philosophical concept was multi-dimensional.

During the later Chou dynasty, the doctrine of the 'Mandate of Heaven' was introduced into the governance of the state, which legitimized the rule of the Chou dynasty. This doctrine was based on politics, religion and philosophy, and through it also established a rationale for Chou rule.Traditional Chinese philosophy began with the beginning of the 'Spring and Autumn' period during the reign of the Chou dynasty. It is worth noting that the emergence of the ancient Greek philosophers also happened around this time.This philosophy has also been described as the Hundred Years of Chinese Philosophy. In fact, this period was the golden age of Chinese philosophy. Prominent among the philosophies that emerged during this and the subsequent 'Warring Kingdoms' period were Taoism, Confucianism, Legalism and Mosesism. Several other philosophies that arose during this period, such as Agrarianism, Chinese Naturalism and Rationalism, gradually lost their importance later.


Taoism is a philosophy that later became a religion. Its main text is the Tao Te Ching written by Laozi in the sixth century BC. However, Chuangxu's composition also influenced it.Tao means way. It is a spiritual entity or energy that flows throughout the universe, but can never be fully described or experienced. All schools of Chinese philosophy have explored the right way to live a moral life. But Taoism has taken it to an abstract level. It speaks of passivity, tenderness, spontaneity and the power of relativity. This philosophy is opposed to Confucianism based on active morality.
Even if it is done, there is disagreement about it. Rather, many Chinese scholars have spoken of Confucianism on the outside and Taoism on the inside. Many human endeavors undertaken for the good of the world actually bring evil -
It is this stark reality that Taoism focuses on. Rather than potentially harmful interference with nature and humans, Taoism emphasizes adapting to nature's characteristics, cycles of change and evolution, and accepting the authority of heaven.


The great teacher of ancient China, Kong Fusi or Confucius (551 BC-479) This doctrine was established on the basis of opinion. Its main text name is 'Lunyu' (in English 'analectros' or conversation). It is a moral, social, political, religious and cultural thought that has greatly influenced Chinese society from ancient times to the present day. Its influence is also visible in neighboring countries such as Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia and Laos. Among Confucius' key concepts were 'ren' (humanity); 'Chengming' (modification of name; for example, a ruler who rules unjustly can be dethroned); 'Chang' (loyalty); 'Xiao' (family responsibilities); and 'li' (pickle).


'Legalism' or legalism was a political philosophy introduced by the Chinese philosophers Han Fei and Shang Yang. With the change of era,the rule of law is based on this philosophy based on the principle of 'change of approach' maintained. According to this philosophy, a ruler would govern his subjects based on the following three elements: (1) Fa (law and principle); (2) Shu (methods, techniques, arts and governance); (3) Shi (legal legitimacy, power and majesty). The Chi dynasty (221-206 BC) adopted philosophy and attempted to create a totalitarian society. According to rationalists, people are driven by greed and fear; so their main motto was: “Enact strict laws, then punish severely”. Both Shang Yang and Han Fei advocated following the rule of law perfectly, regardless of the person or situation.Only the rulers had the power to award or punish.


Naturalism (known as Yin-Yang philosophy) was a philosophical doctrine of the 'Warring Kingdoms' age. It synthesized the two forms of natural energy, yin and yang, and the five basic elements of nature. Philosopher Chou Yan was the main proponent of this theory. His theory attempted to explain the universe in terms of various forces and elements of nature. These include the interacting and complementary energies of yin (cold and negative) and yang (warm and positive) and the five elements of nature;Water, Fire, Earth, Wood and Metal.This doctrine was applied to Chinese medical frameworks.

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Mosesism Invented by the philosopher Moses, Mosesism encouraged universal love for mutual benefit. According to him, everyone should be loved equally and neutrally to avoid conflict and war. Moses was a staunch opponent of Confucian rites and instead advocated sustaining a progressive existence through agriculture, defense, and governance. Human traditions are often inconsistent; So which one he accept there is a need for unconventional guides to determine what to do.This guideline should encourage social behavior that will bring maximum welfare to the society.


Proponents of rationalism or nominalism were concerned with logic, contradiction, names and reality. In some respects it resembles Confucianism.One of the rationalist philosophers was Hui Shi who was against Taoism. Another rationalist philosopher Kangsun was also famous. It is assumed that the rank and designation of the officials and the rituals are determined on that basis Rationalism arises from curiosity. But the Chinese are rationalists.It did not go very far because various meditations were considered unrealistic.


Agrarianism was an ancient social and political philosophy based on agriculture promoted ideals of communal unity and equality among farmers.Human society and civilization that arose and developed as a result of agricultural development and It is the natural reason that people are attracted to farming was the basis of this philosophy.Agrarians believed that an ideal king himself participates in agriculture along with the subjects of the government.The government does not pay the agrarian king from its wealth.Rather leadership Instead he subsists on the profits earned from farming.Agrarians did not believe in division of labor like the Confucians rather they supported egalitarian self-sufficiency in economic policymaking.

© 2022 MD Khalid Hasan

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