Chapter

The Evolution of Government in China

Paul S. Ropp

in Heritage of China

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1990 | ISBN: 9780520064409
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520908932 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520064409.003.0003
The Evolution of Government in China

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This chapter explores the origins of Chinese civilization. It also explains the relative optimism of the early Chinese. Furthermore, the evolution of Chinese culture in the Neolithic and early Bronze Ages is addressed, with particular attention to such subjects as individualism (or its absence), ritual and decorum, bureaucratic control, dependency and obligation, and metaphysical optimism. It integrates early Chinese mortuary practices with other aspects of the culture. The great mythic themes in China were not dying and death but social order and social morality. An inverse relationship exists between an emphasis on hierarchical roles of authority, whether for the living or the dead, and the vagueness with which the afterlife is conceived. The cultural traditions established in the Neolithic and the Bronze Ages of China were ancestral to all that followed, continuing to exert their influence down to recent, if not contemporary, times.

Keywords: Chinese civilization; Chinese culture; Neolithic Age; early Bronze Age; individualism; bureaucratic control; metaphysical optimism; Chinese mortuary; China

Chapter.  14391 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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