Modernizing China Essay, Research Paper
The belief systems that have been given rise to in China are religions thought out for thousands of years. All of them are different from each other, but also interlaced. Many scholars and thinkers spent a whole life devoted to further developing a way of thinking. Certain religions a take small part from others, and in the case of Neo- Confucianism, it takes whole parts and fuses them together. Chinese people in history have shown their devotion to religion. They have also shown their lack of interest in corresponding with other nations. There are many reasons why they have chosen not to be influenced by the west, especially when it comes to religion. Even though Chinese people have largely been devoted to ?old? ways and ?old? ways of thinking, they have invented many of the modern tools. As the west pushed to advance science and technology in a race against each other, China pushed to advance themselves. China did not modernize in the same way as the West, they studied the ancient ways until they were satisfied with their own intellect. Tools were invented out of need in China, not for understanding science, or to produce excess material.
Neo- Confucianism was developed in Sung times when they felt that they were being influenced by the West. Chinese people have always felt like independent people, even in extremely hard times. They can always turn to their religion for power. If the system is getting too relaxed, then there is always a possibility to turn to ?old? ways. Scholars and thinkers were able to revive ?old? ways of thinking or practicing and by instituting those ideas into civil service exams and by other means to filter down to the common people. Neo- Confucianism takes from Taoism and Buddhism, but extends much farther than that. It focuses on the self and that things in this world can be understood, even by a common man. By focusing on the self first, it would allow a person to understand worldly things, and teach how to correspond with others in a ?neighborly? way. The scholars and philosophers read classics that had been shelved, and interpreted them philosophically, instead of trying to explain ?philologically.? This was widely accepted, and Neo- Confucianism was adopted nationally.
Although Neo- Confucianism was part of daily life for people and Neo- confusion degree holders were in office, it was radical for the government. Neo- Confucianism is a ?cultivation of the self,? so government officials were often fired or left to pursue intellectual options (reading the classics). It is not the lack of interest in government that kept Neo- Confusions from interacted with the modernizing world, but this idea ( the main idea behind Neo- Confucianism) of ?cultivation of the self.? For a common Chinese person, these ideas gave them an explanation. Instead of living for the next life, or the ?real? life in the spiritual world, Neo- Confucianism explained things in this life. Ordinary things were explained, and the natural cycle of birth through death was acknowledged.
?Neo? means new, and although this thinking was new for China, the effects of it did not breed new international relations. Though there was some interaction with certain countries, and of course missionaries, there has never been real penetration into Chinese culture, religion, or government (excluding Mongols). Neo- Confusion intellects did not concern themselves with the military, nor with trade and commerce, so they did not stimulate the government. The government itself was trying to deal with the issues concerning their own people (or themselves), and not with the issues the West was concerning themselves with. Intellectuals stride to learn and teach, and if that is the path you take, then it will be for your entire life. If that is so, then trading and international relations are not you concern. Intellectuals (in China) push themselves forward in an effort to understand as much as possible. They are the people who set the standard of thinking, and with the exclusive nature if Neo- Confucianism, the west had the impossible task of trying to infiltrate.
All these large factors explain why western thought did not have a chance to become accepted during these reclusive, thoughtful times.
Western thought and movement provoked those countries involved to understand things that were not understood before, while China was provoked by the west to retreat to their ?old? ways of thinking. Neo- Confucianism gave the people the ability to recluse into their own world.
Being able to live a life where self- examination and self- determination were not only accepted, but practiced by the respected members of society, stab $?