Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ancient Chinese Values: Social inclusiveness



I found it surprising that literature and literacy was highly valued in Ancient shinese culture and was not limited to the rich aristocrats, royal people, government officials, or an intellectual class.  During the Chou Dynasty (1000-600 BCE), reading and writing was for everyone, for example Classic of Poetry had several authors: kings, aristocrats, peasants, soldiers, men…and even women! Whoa! Also, according to Norton (pg 684) arguing people (possibly diplomats) would use lines from poems as zingers.  The 100 schools of thought, spreading their brand of morality and ideologies,  were cropping up as well, as a result, I think, of the cultural emphasis on literacy and education and for all walks of life in ancient Chinese society.  Basically, I think because education was such an integral part of society, they valued creativity, freedom of expression, and morality.  I understand that there is a thousand year or so time gap between this period and now, but it’s interesting that now China has a lot of censorship, and the Cultural Revolution, lead by Mao was against the intellectuals.      

2 comments:

Ben Bonner said...

I find the dynamic between cultural and political values throughout Chinese history really interesting, but I think that to a certain extent they need to be viewed separately. Historically, there seems to be a dichotomy between the cultural values of the people regarding literacy and education and its reception by the government. Despite the fact that literacy and education seem to have been pervasive values throughout Chinese history, and one that we can observe in Chinese-Americans today, the government's reception has been frequently poor. Two other cases of this difference come to mind: the mass execution of the Confucian scholars by Qin Shihuangdi and the burning of the documents of Zheng He's voyages in the 15th century. Even amongst authoritarian style governments, China seems unique in that cultural values haven't been translated into political values.

Ben Bonner said...

I find the dynamic between cultural and political values throughout Chinese history really interesting, but I think that to a certain extent they need to be viewed separately. Historically, there seems to be a dichotomy between the cultural values of the people regarding literacy and education and its reception by the government. Despite the fact that literacy and education seem to have been pervasive values throughout Chinese history, and one that we can observe in Chinese-Americans today, the government's reception has been frequently poor. Two other cases of this difference come to mind: the mass execution of the Confucian scholars by Qin Shihuangdi and the burning of the documents of Zheng He's voyages in the 15th century. Even amongst authoritarian style governments, China seems unique in that cultural values haven't been translated into political values.