Ancient Chinese Cultural Orientations

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Schwartz, Keightley, and Allan all had ideas about the ancient Chinese cultural orientations that they talked about in their respective books and articles. This essay is an attempt to explain how ancestor worship or reverence, optimism, ordering, root metaphors, bureaucratic tendencies are the bases of Chinese cultural orientations.
Ancestor worship was the practice of making sacrifices to the ancestors to ask for blessings or to break a curse. In “The World of Thought in Ancient China”, Benjamin J. Schwartz, claims that ancestor worship or reverence is one of the most important aspects of the Chinese cultural orientations. “Yet the orientation to ancestor worship is so omnipresent and so central to the entire development of Chinese civilization
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David N. Keightley strongly believed that optimism was a strong component of Chinese cultural orientations. from his article, “The Environment of Ancient China” He explains the environmental factors that led to the development of ancient Chinese civilizations. He concludes, “And it is not implausible to suppose that such a favorable environment also contributed to the general optimism about the human condition and human nature that characterizes much early Chinese religion, legend and philosophy” (Keightley, 36). Several philosophers believed that the humans were fundamentally good. There is also evidence that the Chinese believed that there was order in the universe. Finally, there was this idea that the rulers of the people were supposed to be honorable. That idea would come into play more when the Mandate of Heaven was introduced to the Chinese. In another article, “The Religious Commitment: Shang Theology and the Genesis of Chinese Political Culture” Keightley argues that the Chinese developed optimism early in the Shang dynasty. “The radical world optimism which Weber identified as a central Confusion value was already present in Shang religious belief” (Keightley, 215). It was a cultural orientation that would be used later to justify the rise of the …show more content…
Allen’s book is based on the idea of the Chinese having root metaphors that are specific to their culture. Her thesis is that, “Nevertheless, by recognizing the root metaphors of Chinese thought, we can at least begin to understand the Chinese terminology more accurately and this should enable us to interpret the text and the philosophy that they express more clearly” (Allan, 18). Allan focuses mostly on water as a root metaphor for the Chinese. In “The World of Thought in Ancient China” Schwartz suggests that there are many metaphors used, including, “As a metaphor for the cosmos, it suggests a world of entities and energies held together in familial harmony under the authority of the high god” (Schwartz, 31). The Chinese had root metaphors that were related to the natural world and that caused them to consider everything within that

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