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Heritage of ChinaContemporary Perspectives on Chinese Civilization$
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Paul Ropp

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780520064409

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520064409.001.0001

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The Evolution of Government in China

The Evolution of Government in China

(p.55) Three The Evolution of Government in China
Heritage of China

Paul S. Ropp

University of California Press

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

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