A baseline discussion: what is traditional society?
What is valued in the Chinese traditional society?
Two paragraphs from John K. Fairbanks, Cambridge History of China Vol. 10, p. 2 on difference between West and China’s world view.
I like Fairbanks’ clear effort to distinguish the different world views of the Western imperialist’s and China’s ruling elite.
Britain, France and USA: valued
- nation state
- rule of law
- benefits of individual rights
- scientific technology
- use of warfare in the service of progress
Chinese ruling class: valued
- classical Confucian teachings
- universal supremacy of the Son of Heaven (the emperor)
- Emperor maintained his rule by being a virtuous ruler (an example to others)
- importance of harmonious social order
- importance of hierarchy and status
- importance of classical learning
- tolerated only change within tradition
- importance of the extended family (over the rights of the individual)
- responsibility (duty) viewed as more important than rights
- civil administrators should control the military and “use merchants (?)”
- Principles of moral conduct were valued much higher than individual passions, material profit or even the letter of the law.