East Asia: Home of the World's Oldest Civilization & Its Challenges - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1773 Words
Date:  2023-02-27


East Asia is known as home to the world's oldest and continuous civilization. The first civilization is believed to have emerged from China, thus making the country to become culture hearth center in the region. Also, most of the philosophical ideas and notable practices originated from such East Asia. Ancient governments experienced rebellions and attacks by nomads. Governance practices were negatively affected by natural occurrences such as floods. The problem of governing in early East Asia, therefore, appeared to revolve around harnessing economic powers of the land and eliminate power holders who stood between state and peasantry. The growth of trade and culture began during the rule of the Zhou dynasty, during which philosophers such as Confucius provided an essential system of thoughts and ideas that spread and influenced the whole of East Asian countries. The Chinese settlers ensured the spread of culture and Buddhism to surrounding regions. However, each of the early East Asian communities appeared to adopt and embrace various philosophies in different way.. Confucian, Daoism, and Buddhism are considered as the most enduring philosophical concepts in East Asia traditions. The crucial cultures of Southeast Asia, including legalism and Daoism, were all contained in the teachings of Confucius. The philosophies of Confucius were also introduced to guide the governing systems, education approaches, and family-related life. The theory of Daoism was developed as a balance to the Confucian ideas, and encourages a more significant emphasis on nature and spontaneity. According to Daoism theory, human beings lack definite natural roles, and are encompassed in a natural system that influence their survival. The philosophy of Daoism also provided a framework for the development of Buddhism, which would later become one of the essential traditions in East Asia. All the East Asia philosophies offer critical insights on issues related to the political, social, and moral lives of humans. The role of philosophers and governing in early East Asia

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The philosophers played a significant role in the governing of early East Asia. One of the notable philosophers was Confucius. Their central teachings were used as political ideologies, for intellectual discourse, and to promote family values and trade ethics. The Confucius traditions presented a coherent social vision to the region. According to this philosophy, government leadership was both desirable and necessary for the market economy. The central idea behind the philosophy is that the establishment of the government provides a positive force that encourages social stability. As a result of Confucian philosophies, there was an establishment of various styles of governance, all of which appeared to have encouraged responsiveness, accountability, and responsibility to the public needs. Also, the philosophy required all the East Asia country's governments to maintain law and order in the society, and to become providers of necessities of life, including education.

The Confucian philosophy also encouraged voluntary participation and cultivation of virtues that would enhance flourishing. Also, the philosophy identifies the critical role the families play in the transmission of core values. In general, the family was recognized as a basic unit of society. The philosophy also recognized the family as the most appropriate environment for teaching proper ways of becoming human. The philosophers played a critical role in the identification of education as a form of civil religion in society. The introduction of the self-cultivation concept encouraged virtue in governance and leadership and overall improvement of quality of life.

The Debate on Salt and Iron

The debate on salt and iron provides various practical examples on the role of Confucian philosophy and its influence on government policies and decisions. In the first century B.C, Chinese culture had widely accepted that officials holding government positions had to receive classical training. The training would ensure reconciliation between their governance roles and Confucian values of integrity and appropriate behaviors. As such, there was a rise in the positive influence of government on its people, and a growing need to learn the philosophies as a significant step to access the leadership positions.

The Confucians were opposed to fiscal policies introduced by the emperors around 81 B.C., according to the rulers, there was the need to strengthen the government through such systems. The government had noted that a stable government would protect its people against the non-Chinese nomadic communities. The government identified the need to mobilize resources to establish massive armies and construct forts and mountains. However, despite the great intentions, Confucian noted controversies surrounding various fiscal policies. There was an increase in tax, establishment of monopolies that hurt private entrepreneurs, and confiscation of the land of the nobles. In addition, the government had also begun to manipulate coinage. At the introduction of fiscal policies, the Confucians expressed concerns over the morality of government policies and decision-making practices. The initial observation maintained the importance of agriculture over trade and other human activities. Critical insights on the challenges of governances can be revealed by records of various debates between government leadership, Confucians, and others who opposed government policies. The discussions revealed the responsibilities of such leaders and their understanding of the economic and social affairs of the society. The Contributions of Daoism Philosophy

Dao is a Chinese word which implies a path or away. The term was also used by Confucians to provide critical guidance as to how humans should behave in society. The word Dao, therefore, provided an ethical or moral approach to decision making. Daoism encouraged humans to pay attention to nature and realize that they consist of a small portion of a more extensive process. Daoism teachings also provide significant instructions with educational implications such as discouragement to all forms of human discrimination. The philosophical teachings encourage modesty in social activities.

Teachings From the Eastern Buddhism

The eastern Buddhism includes several traditions that shared an everyday basis across China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Buddhism provided significant contributions that shaped political leadership and governance in early East Asia. The Buddhist theories of political leadership were founded on the ideas of implicit theories of morality as well as an illusionary and harmful nature of individual identity. The principal teachings of Buddhism place greater emphasis on the concept of personal salvation. Own salvation was seen as a critical reaction to existing knowledge that was mainly learned after enlightenment. Buddhism identified human suffering as an essential component of their life, and clinging was the primary cause of pain. As such, Buddhism provided crucial guidelines that would assist in reducing cases of human suffering.Legalism theory is a leadership approach that was developed to enhance consolidation of Confucian social systems - they need for legalism ideas developed at a period that was characterized by domestic instability and inter-state competitions. Supporters of legalism theory were bolstered by political leaders whose primary aim was to attain stability through the creation of a prosperous state and powerful army. The Legalist school of thought was believed to have made significant contributions toward the formation of the Chinese Empire. Unlike the Confucianism concepts, legalism places greater emphasis on the need for law and order above all human needs and concerns. Legalists had a significant influence on leadership, and their role was to present ideas to rulers on how to achieve their leadership goals.

Unlike the Confucian, Legalists did not demonstrate commitment to preserve or restore the values of new communities. Instead, the primary purpose included to strengthen the government and support the respective governance reforms. A perfect example of the Legalist theory in practice is a case of the Feudal State of Qin. The state had employed legalists to ensure a strong centralization of government powers. The preparations also used regimentation of people as well as aggressive wars that provided the nation became even more powerful. The elimination of rivals followed the achievements and ensuring that China remained under a single leadership. However, the accomplishments of the legalist approach have only enjoyed a controvertible form of success that is marked with struggles for power.

Wars and conflicts experienced in the late 14th and 15th centuries explain another governing challenge affecting early East Asia communities. The strongest resistance recorded in early East Asia was between the two influential families, Japanese family of Ashikaga and Muromachi Shogunate. Weak leadership and internal conflicts would result in loss of governance powers. In Kyoto, the long decade of wars destroyed cities. Nearly all of the pre-Onin war leading families were later reduced into impotent central governments. Life in the brutal ages necessitated the establishment of strong armies and the rule of law. In Japanese history, the Daimyo, who were also constables, were responsible for the creation of active military and implementation of policies such as developments in agriculture, exploitation of resources, and trade-related activities.

Another critical step taken to enhance governance was the establishment of rules, which consisted of legal formalities through house codes. The legal formularies would allow leaders to improve their law. During the 17th century, the heads of patriarchs sent testaments or house precepts to the young families intending to guide on matters relating to behaviors, cultural, and religious activities. The house precepts had borrowed heavily from the Chinese doctrines. The practical guidance was also contained in a letter written to Nagatoki, a potential heir to father's leadership, and provided specific details on how to deal with others, including inferior members of the society. The young leader was advised to fear the Buddha's, the Gods and Feudal lord, and to also act with courage.The Adoption of Philosophies by Selected Societies

According to Confucian philosophies, the process of transformation entails the propagation of virtues. New values and norms were required to reform the deviant customs. The primary purpose of any change was to create better social consciousness, that would translate to behaviors conformed in the Confucian values. The Chinese teachings on Confucian thoughts were also adopted in Korea. It aided airy workers who shaped society. In Korea, the moral teachings of Confucian philosophy were used to develop and rectify the inferior societal perceptions on the inherent quality of a woman. In addition, Education was identified as a necessity and a tool for human empowerment.


The early philosophers have, therefore, played a significant role in the development of thought patterns of leaders and their communities. The governing bodies were facing wars and conflict in the early days, and the role of philosophers was to force and shape peoples' behaviors. The traditional philosophies are still a critical part of the cultural fabric of east Asia. The conventional philosophies such as Confucian, Taoism, and Legalism have provided extensive discussions on leadership and management of people. The theories offer desirable leadership behaviors. Daoism encouraged leaders to avoid useless and unproductive behaviors and provided authentic and laws that leaders and...

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East Asia: Home of the World's Oldest Civilization & Its Challenges - Essay Sample. (2023, Feb 27). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/east-asia-home-of-the-worlds-oldest-civilization-its-challenges-essay-sample

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