In many ways, education preceded philosophy, for without education there would be no philosophy. But, philosophy had become such an important part of Chinese people’s lives that they formed a symbiotic relationship. One could not exist without the other.
China is a country rooted in philosophy. To most Chinese, religious sects are but different schools of philosophy, subject to discussion and debate. This also explains the dearth of religious persecution throughout its history, and the peaceful coexistence of different religious faiths. It is not unusual to find members of a single family practicing different religious faith.
Of course, particular religions that were deemed by the government(s) to pose threats to the peace and security of the nation were prosecuted as political oppositions. The Taiping Rebellion, which existed from 1850 to 1864, was the last religious (Christian) rebellion in
The philosophies of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism dominate the lives of average Chinese. Buddhism enlightens the soul or afterlife, while Daoism develops the person or the body and mind, and Confucianism guides the nation or world.
To the Chinese, education is the path to success. The national examination system for entry into government service appeared during the Han dynasty, and was formalized during the Sui and Tang dynasties. Under the imperial governments, regardless of age or social standing, everyone was eligible for local examinations.
Those people that passed the cut could then proceed to take the national examination at the Capital, at times with the Emperor as the presiding official. Scholars that passed the national examination received automatic assignments as government officials. The top ranked candidate received immediate appointment as a minister of the imperial court.
This system for entry into government service remains in effect in both
Chinese equate age with knowledge and wisdom, which explains the tradition of respect for the elderly. Humbleness is the expected behavior of a cultured person. Humbleness demonstrates proper training and education. Brashness and arrogance just expose the failures of one’s heritage.
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