The Rise Of Confucianism In Ancient And Classical Eras

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In the Ancient and Classical eras, religion played a significant role not only in everyday life but in the political sphere as well. In ancient times, many rulers derived their power from religious sources. In fact, during this period, leaders in many civilizations were viewed as divine figures themselves, giving them absolute power and leaving little room for citizens in their respective societies to affect the political scene in any meaningful way. This idea changed by the beginning of the Classical period. While religion still played an important role society during this new era, new political structures rose to prominence that allowed (at least upper-class) citizens to take part in politics and government. The time surrounding 3000 …show more content…
During the 11th century B.C.E, the Shang dynasty was replaced by Zhou dynasty in China. This new dynasty remained in power for several centuries, as it did not fall until 222 B.C.E. (Duiker, 61). While the Zhou kings retained much of the power that was present in the Shang dynastic period, a new idea, called the “Mandate of Heaven,” was introduced that altered the political landscape and ideas of power in general. Under this new way of thinking, kings were not divine beings themselves, but only representatives from heaven. On top of this, if a ruler was not governing effectively, he could theoretically be replaced by a more able or benevolent overlord. This shift was very important because it forced the Zhou kings to govern with a sense of responsibility to the people of the empire, giving the Chinese individual, in theory, more power to affect government than was previously available (Duiker, 62). Essentially, as China moved into the Classical age under the Zhou, the government became less of a dictatorial and more

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