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UNIT 5: Early Belief Systems

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Early Greece and China

In the last 500 years BCE, social turmoil and increased human interactions led thinkers in widely dispersed places to develop moral and ethical systems around which society could be ordered. This segment examines the ideas of the early Greek thinkers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as the ethical code developed by Confucius in China.

The early Greek thinkers rejected prevailing religious beliefs, arguing that society should be ordered on the basis of reason. Socrates believed that people should behave with integrity and honor, and that society should be just. Plato, his disciple, built on these ideas in his treatise The Republic, and argued that a just society ought to be ruled by a philosopher-king. Aristotle further argued that philosophers could apply their reason to the world around them to solve the mysteries and problems of life.

In China, Confucius sought to construct a moral code that would guide individuals and communities toward ethical living. His teachings, recorded in the Analects, advocated a hierarchical social order in which behavior was dictated by one's station in society. The idea was that maintaining social harmony would maintain harmony with the cosmos.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Anonymous Chinese, CONFUCIAN SCHOLARS (n.d.). Courtesy of Chinastock Photos.

Anonymous, HEAD OF ARISTOTLE (c. 330 BCE). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.


Cuiying Zhang, CONFUCIUS ASKING LAO ZI ABOUT ETIQUETTE [6TH CENTURY BCE] (ca. 1990-2000). Courtesy of Cuiying Zhang.

Nicholas Chaperon, THE NURTURE OF JUPITER (1645). Courtesy of Ackland Art Museum.



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