More notes at http://tanguay.info/learntracker
C O U R S E 
Chinese Thought: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Science
Edward Slingerland, University of British Columbia
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Beginnings of Written Chinese History
Notes taken on December 2, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
when dealing with Chinese material, you have to deal with the Romanization problem
when you see "Dao" spelled "Tao", that's the Wade-Giles system
D sound = T
T sound = T'
aspiration is symbolized by the apostrophe
this makes sense to linguists but is not immediately clear to others
given completed form with Herbert Giles's Chinese–English Dictionary of 1892
a romanization system for Mandarin Chinese
replaced the Nanjing-based romanization systems that had been common until late in the 19th century
used since the 80s
the official phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet
has become the standard in most places where Chinese is spoken
People's Republic of China
Taiwan (although with variations)
more intuitive to non-linguists
there are three main quirks with pinyin romanization script
Q = [ch]
Qin [chin] Dynasty
qi [chee]
Zh = [j]
Zhou [joh] Dynasty
X = [sh]
Xia [shah] Dynasty
very early china
what is China?
there are parts of non-mainland China that many people think should be part of China
there are other parts of mainland China which many people think should not be part of China
Ancient China
mainly Yellow River Valley
e.g. Qin dynasty 210 BC
also Yangtze River Valley
to lesser extent
three models to how Chinese culture developed
1. nuclear
more traditional
Chinese culture arose in the Yellow River valley and spread out to other parts of China
the Central Plain is the most important part
multiple origins
more recent model
many different cultures that were trading, learning, and fighting with one another
modified version, popular now
nuclear version but acknowledges that there were exchanges
the Central Plains culture was the dominant culture
ahead of the other regions
more complex
tended to innovate earlier than the other regions
tended to dominate the other regions
5000-3000 BCE: Yangshao
Central Plain area and further down Yellow River
1921: first village of this culture discovered
dry millet, villages forming
decent sized organized around clans
no writing
probably shamanism
focused on individuals who mediate between spirit and human worlds
shamans can communicate with spirits
human world is just one world
there is another world of spirits and mystical creatures
can control natures spirits, rivers
believed that shamans can travel to these other realms
certain finds e.g. skeletons of people buried with representations of their animal companions
no evidence that anyone else was buried in this rich a wealthy way
those buried with shamanistic symbolism seemed to be the most important graves
this suggests that the shamans were probably both the political and religious leaders of their society
3000-2000 BCE: complex, large-scale society emerges
large, walled towns
elaborate burials of leaders
specializations in terms of professions
how archeology matches up with legend
in some cases there are legends of what happened in history or philosophy which diverges from our best academic knowledge that we have today
we alternate between traditional and archeological accounts
we want to know the tradition accounts because even if they are just myths, it matters because everyone we are going to be reading in the Warring States period believed in these myths and you have to get inside their heads and see the world from their point of view to understand their writing
traditional legend period starts 3000-2000 BCE
two main figures Yao and Shun
early cultural heroes
referred to as emperors or sage kings
their dates are completely made up
around 2200-2300 BCE
founded figures of civilization
passed down power from one to another
first Yao to Shun and then onward down the line
according to the legend
Yao became the ruler at 20 and died at 119 when he passed his throne to Shun the Great, to whom he had given his two daughters in marriage
Hou Ji ("Lord Millet")
supposedly Minister of Agriculture under Shun
credited with "inventing agriculture" or "inventing millet"
progenitor of what became the Zhou [joh] royal line
the Zhou dynasty looked back to Hou Ji as their distant ancestor
Xia [shah] Dynasty (2205-1555 BCE)
dynastic China begins
you have a king that is now passing down rule to his sons
scholars in the West tend to view the Xia as mythical
however there has been much research in the Erlitou culture
1950s archeologists started excavating on the Yellow River
found major sites earlier than the Shang dynasty
major city sites
lack of defense mechanisms suggest they were part of a unified possible state of some kind
Chinese archeologists tend to believe they found the Xia dynasty of the legends
Western archeologists have been more cautious
e.g. no writing has been found
but we can be quite certain that there was a major state-level culture before the Shang Dynasty
Xia Legend
2205 - 1555 BCE
founded by the Sage-king Yu
Sage-King Yu (2205-2197 BCE)
dates have no archeological basis
supposed founder of Xia
credited with taming floods of Yellow River with a series of dikes and irrigation channels thereby making "the World" (i.e. the Yellow River Valley) habitable for the Chinese people
Yellow river is very difficult: low banks, changes course, overflows
this was seen as the seminal act of creation
this metaphor of flooding as chaos and controlling water as civilization becomes a major theme in Chinese history and philosophy
arguably this has a lot to do why the contemporary Chinese government was so eager to tame the Yangtze River with the Three Gorges project which from an economic and scientific perspective looked a little crazy, but within Chinese thinking, there is something about controlling water that shows that you're controlling the world and making it safe for civilization.
King Jie (1600 BCE)
supposedly the evil last king of the Xia dynasty
a tyrant
known to have lived a lavish lifestyle with slaves and treated his people with extreme cruelty
defeated by Tang of Shang