What email address or phone number would you like to use to sign in to Docs.com?
If you already have an account that you use with Office or other Microsoft services, enter it here.
Or sign in with:
Signing in allows you to download and like content, and it provides the authors analytical data about your interactions with their content.
Embed code for: Final Draft Essay!!!!!!!!
Select a size
A Comparison and Contrast of Religions and Philosophies Before 500 C.E.
History 101: World Civilizations Before 1500
October 10, 2016
People have found evidence of religions from as early as the Paleolithic Era through artifacts such as the Venus Figurines that point to the worship of a fertility goddess. Over time, more religions emerged and developed along side philosophies and schools of thought. Major religions and philosophies prior to 500 C.E. such as Confucianism, Legalism, Hinduism, Buddhism, as well as Judaism and Christianity have many similarities, especially as social control, and also distinguishing characteristics.
In China, the late Zhou dynasty was marked by the period of the Warring States (403-221 B.C.E.), during which time the major Chinese philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism developed. Confucius was the founder of Confucianism, though not with in his lifetime. His ideology focused on moral, ethical, and political issues within human relationships, education, and public behavior. He believed that governing officials needed to be well educated, but also have strong moral integrity, and good judgement. Similarly, Legalist and Confucianists hoped to purify the government and bring about order through the example of officials with such traits. “The relationship between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend, when the wind blows across it.” The authors of Traditions and Encounters explain that Confucianism was based on the idea that people are inherently good, contrary to Legalist views, and if left alone without many laws they would behave morally and ethically. Distinctively, Confucianism is also responsible for the creation of social activism through his major focus for individuals which include attitude and humility, behavior, and filial piety. These character traits, in Confucius’ mind held the utmost important and would lead to great success for how the individual possessed them. In a world where everyone strove to attain these traits it is easy to also see how these ideas could also be used as a form of control over behavior towards self, others, and especially elders. In Confusionist Ban Zhao’s Lessons for Women, for example, she applies Confusion ideologies in an instruction manual for women to learn how to write, behave, and exercise good morals. Confucianism functioned as a lighter form of social control than Legalism through encouraging its followers to lead by moral and behavioral example.
Legalism, like Confucianism, developed in response to the Period of the Warring States. The authors of Traditions and Encounters state that Legalism, out of the three major schools of thought, is the one that helped end the Period of the Warring States. The Legalist main goals and ideologies were to expand and protect the strength and interests of the state. “...they devoted their attention exclusively to the state, which they sought to strengthen and expand at all costs.” In order to do this they encouraged careers in areas such as agriculture and military service while discouraging others that they deemed less useful to their purposes. Since they viewed human nature, contrary to Confucianists, to be inherently evil, they exercised strict laws and harsh repercussions to enforce them. “When the sage rules the state, he does not count on people doing good of themselves, but employs such measures as will keep them from doing any evil.” According to Traditions and Encounters text the Legalists also established collective responsibility where everyone, involved, or not would be punished. Examples of Legalism can be found in Sima Qian’s biographies of the officials Chih Tu and Ning Ch’eng. Both, in Qian’s accounts, were harsh, ruthless, but efficient and well respected for their authority. “As soon as [Chih Tu] reached the province, he executed the worst offenders among the Chien clan, along with the members of their families, and the rest were all overwhelmed with fear.” Legalism is a far more direct form of social control than any of the other religion or philosophy. It aimed toward obedience of law and less of moral righteousness and human place in nature as with Confucianism.
Most of Hindu religion is based on the Vedas and the Upanishads. Hinduists sought to end the cycle of reincarnation. “..by a process of self-discipline, meditation, asceticism, and withdrawal from the ordinary concerns of daily life..” If they were not able to achieve this in their lifetime, depending on their karma and dharma, law, or duty, they would either reincarnate in a higher or lower caste than their previous life. The end goal of Hinduism and Buddhism is to end the cycle of reincarnation and their atman to join the Brahman or universal soul. The Bhagavad Gita, the story of Krishna and Arjuna, greatly influenced the views and ideologies of Hinduism. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna explains to Arjuna the main ideas of Hinduism; the soul and the physical body are separate, one’s caste has specific moral duties and social responsibilities that must be completed, and everlasting peace could be found through absolute devotion to Krishna. In this way of enforcing the importance of caste duties and karma the Hindu religion reinforced the caste system. Since the idea that they are reincarnated in a certain caste is the result of their spiritual success or failure in the past life, many of those within the Hindu religion believed that to reach a higher caste they had to build up their dharma, doing their caste duty, and by building up good karma they could in their next life become part of a higher caste. Hinduism, similarly to Judaism, was a closed religion in which only the members of that society were accepting of its ideologies. With the occasional exception theses religions had very little appeal to outsiders and therefore not many conversions. Hinduism is also the parent religions of Buddhism.
According to Traditions and Encounters Buddhism was established around 534 B.C.E. The major ideology of Buddhism involves understanding the Four Noble Truths. “...all life involves suffering; desire is the cause of suffering; that eliminating desire brings an end to suffering; and that a disciplined life conducted in accordance with the Noble Eightfold Path brings the elimination of desire.” Because Buddhism was focused on acquiring enlightenment through meditation instead of the worship of a god and did not require intermediates, such as the Brahmans, and so they rejected the caste system for its faulty reasoning. This idea was explained in section three of chapter six in Worlds of History. The document contains a discussion between Buddha and a young Brahman named Assalayana in which they discuss the Buddha’s teaching of how all people are equally pure and the caste system. Buddhism appealed to a larger group of people than Hinduism because it was not based on the caste system, but also because it was a universal path to salvation open to all people. Buddhist and Hinduist clashed in the area of caste separation, but they share a lot of the same fundamental ideas such as the cause of human suffering, reincarnation, and the goal of ending the cycle of reincarnation through enlightenment.
Judaism began with Abraham and his covenant with God to worship Him alone in exchange for the prosperity of his lineage. The idea of monotheism was not popular especially when it came to the other religions that the Jews were continuously exposed to. This made their religion very distinct from other religions. The Jews were later given the Ten Commandments by Moses from God; a list of moral rules by which to live by. One such law, though not in the Ten Commandments, was that every male was to be circumcised. The God given laws are unique to the Jews. The disobedience of these laws in the Old Testament was severe and often death. In this way Judaism is similar to Legalism in that there were strict laws and punishments; similar to Hinduism as the parent religion of Christianity, but also like Hinduism it was a closed religion that only the tribe of Juda exercised and there were not many converts nor a great appeal to outsiders.
Jesus of Nazareth was a Jewish teacher who influenced Christianity through his teachings, charisma, and his power to heal the sick. “...[Jesus] taught devotion to God and love for fellow human beings.” Jesus did not see the true birth of Christianity within his lifetime. The authors of Traditions and Encounters explain that he was crucified by Roman administrators who feared he would raise a rebellion against the Roman rule. His teachings were carried on and taught by his disciples some of whom, like Paul, sought out non-Jewish communities to convert. Christianity is similar to Buddhism in that it developed out of a closed religion to a universal religion with high appeal and a message of salvation. The spread of Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism in the map from Traditions and Encounters shows the effective spread of conversions to the universal religions versus the closed religion and caste system of the Hinduists. This is one of the similarities between Christianity and Buddhism. They both originated in religions that were basically closed to outside converts because of their low appeal and systems of living. They both are also universal religions with a message of salvation.
The development of religions and philosophies prior to 500 C.E. share similarities, but they also have defining and distinct differences. The universal similarity is that they functioned as a way to control people’s behaviors. The Confucian philosophy lead to the establishment of civil service. Legalist philosophy was distinct in its strict laws and punishments. Hinduism’s defining characteristic the laws that reinforced the social structure of the caste system. Buddhism differs from the other religions because it does not focus on the worship of a god. Judaism is unique because it is the only religion whose laws were demanded by their god. While Christianity differs from the others because of the message of love and devotion to God.
Bentley, Jerry H., Herbert F. Ziegler, and Heather Streets-Salter. Traditions & Encounters: A Brief Global History.
The Chinese Classics, trans. James Legge (New York: John B. Alden, Publisher, 1890), 13-14, 16, 18-19, 64-66, 70-71. in Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader to 1550. 5th ed. Vol. 1.: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016.
Loewe, Michael, The Government of The Qin and Han Empires, 221 B.C.E.-220 C.E. (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2006), 17-18, 37,-40, 56-57, 61, 68-69, 71-76, 185, 187-88. in Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader to 1550. 5th ed. Vol. 1.: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016. 125.
McNeill, William H., A World History, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), 78-83, 88, 90, 99-100. in Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader to 1550. 5th ed. Vol. 1.: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016. 81-88.
Purcell, Nicholas, “The Arts of Government,” in The Oxford History of the Classical World: The Roman World, ed. Johnson Boardman, Jasper Griffin, and Oswyn Murray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 154, 155, 156, 170-74, 175-77. in Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader to 1550. 5th ed. Vol. 1.: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016. 147.
Records of Historians: Chapters from the SHIH CHI of ssu-ma Ch’ien, trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), 300-05. in Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader to 1550. 5th ed. Vol. 1.: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016. 131-36.
Sources of Chinese Tradition, comp. by Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 360-64. Copyright 1999 Columbia University Press. in Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader to 1550. 5th ed. Vol. 1.: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016. 142-145.
Sources of Chinese Tradition, comp. by Wm. Theodore de Bary et. al. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963), 1:127-29, 133-35. in Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader to 1550. 5th ed. Vol. 1.: Bedford/St. Martins, 2016. 138-141.
Reviewed by Liam Bingham.
Your evidence and sources were very good. They helped back up your thesis statement a lot.
The only thing that I think could make this paper better than it already is, is the use of transitions more. It will help make it flow even more than it does. Don’t forget a word count!
Your priority right now should be thinking of a strong conclusion to finish this great essay. Maybe for a conclusion, you can go over the most important views of each religion and compare and contrast and make a final judgement call on whether or not they are all more similar or different. Then you can answer the final question, what does all this tell you about the nature of religion before 500 C.E. Really great paper and great research on it also!
7high appeal and a message of salvation. The spread of Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism in the map from Traditions and Encounters shows the effective spread of conversions to the universal religions versus the closed religion and caste system of the Hinduists. This is one of the similarities between Christianity and Buddhism. They both originated in religions that were basically closed to outside converts because of their low appeal and systems of living. They both are also universal religions with a message of salvation.
Your evidence and sources