failing like never before


My History Paper

Here it is, the history that I mentioned earlier, here. I should point out, that yes, there are grammatical errors that I am aware of. This is the exact same paper that I turned in, completely unchanged. Have fun reading it, non-existent readers of my site.

During the period of Eastern Zhou, when the power of the Zhou kings was in decline, various philosophies and methods of governing were created. Amongst these beliefs, were those of Zichan whose views can be seen in The Chronicles of Zuo, Confucius in The Analects of Confucius, and Mo Zi in The Basic Writings of Mo Tzu. Each of these three men had a different set of criteria for determining whether or not a man was worthy of appointment to a government job, with Mo Zi judging on worthiness, Zichan off of capabilities, and Confucius off of moral character. Although at first glance it would seem that all three men have entirely different criteria in appointing an official, they share, amongst other lesser similarities, a belief that social status should have little, if any, importance in selecting an official.

Of all the three, Mo Zi outlines the simplest methodology for selecting men for government positions. Under Mo Zi's system a man must simply be capable of performing the task required for the position, with social status and relations to the ruler having no importance at all, and a ruler “must honor the worthy, for honoring the worthy is the foundation of good government.” (Mo Zi, P. 22) Under Mo Zi's system of appointing officials, the ruler would pick indiscriminately between a nephew and a complete stranger, selecting whoever is most appropriate for the position. In defining how the righteous should be promoted, Mo Zi states that “the lord promotes the righteous without caring how far removed they may have been from him,” (Mo Zi, P. 19) that is to say, the ruler should not take into consideration whether or not the candidate is of any relation to the ruler. This is much like the beliefs of Confucius and Zichan, that social status should be of little or no consequence in promoting and selecting an official.

Confucius states that “in education there are no class distinctions,” and that “by nature men are pretty much alike. It is learning and practice that set them apart.” (Confucius, p.9) So while all men begin alike, nobility and peasant alike, it is their various learnings and life experiences that defines them, and thereby determines their character and whether or not they are appropriate for a government position. In Confucius's egalitarian viewpoint, it can be seen that he believes that social birth is an improper standard for determining a person's worth. And just like Mo Zi, Confucius defines a single overarching standard on which all of the government should be based on (rituals and man's moral character, with Mo Zi believing in promoting the worthy), and on which the selection of government officials is based on.

 Although Zichan had various criteria in mind when selecting officials, much like Mo Zi, “Zichan selected capable men for appointment,” (Zuo, P. 45) and a man's abilities were the most important criteria. The men that were appointed by Zichan all had numerous qualities and abilities that made them appropriate for their positions, among these qualities, were good judgment, skills at creating government edicts, and cleverness. At least one of the men Zichan appointed was of noble birth, the duke's grandson Hui, whether the rest were also of the nobility is unknown. Another of the selected men, Zi Taishu is described as “handsome,” one of the qualities that Mo Zi deemed an inaccurate judge of worthiness. “Just because a man happens to be rich and eminent or pleasant-featured and attractive, he will not necessarily turn out to be wise and alert when placed in office.” (Mo Zi, P.27) Somewhat like the modern English idiom, “don't judge a book by its cover,” Mo Zi saw a person's external appearance to be of little or no relevance when judging their merit and character. While the lineage and social standing of the men were probably taken into account by Zichan, these qualities were not the only standards of measurement. Zichan was not a philosopher, and did not have a clearly defined, single overarching belief as Mo Zi and Confucius did, and instead did whatever seemed to him would work. During the time of the Eastern Zhou, when the power of the Zhou kings was in decline, there was a great number of philosophies being developed, and it would appear that Zichan did not adhere strictly to any one particular belief, instead picking and pulling as he saw fit. Thus, his officials had to fulfill numerous small criteria and one larger and more important criteria.

Where Zichan selected officials based off their capabilities, and Mo Zi based off worthiness, Confucius believed that conduct is the distinguishing feature of a gentlemen and the determinant in the selection and promotion of an official. Thus, Confucius emphasized the importance of the rites, which Mo Zi scorned, and their use in bettering a man. Confucius spoke greatly on the characteristics of the gentleman, stating that the gentlemen “can be described as eager to learn,” (Confucius, p. 51), “easy of mind” and possessing “a sense of shame in the way he conducts himself.” (Confucius, p.52) While the first characteristic is probably one which Mo Zi would deem good, the latter two are those which Mo Zi felt had nothing to do with determining if a man was worthy of a position. For the most part, Mo Zi and Confucius's beliefs were at odds with each other, and in The Basic Writings of Mo Tzu there is an entire section entitled “Against Confucians.” Mo Zi made sure to emphasize that men of worth should be promoted, other such characteristics were of no importance in a man. In Confucius's mind a true gentlemen, a man that is free from desires, courageous, and refined by the rites and music, is the one who is worthy of being appointed.

Where Mo Zi defamed Confucius, Confucius, praised Zichan, saying that Zichan was “respectful in the manner he conducted himself,” “reverent in the service of his lord,” generous in caring for the common people,” and just in employing their services.” (Confucius, p.50) Thus, while Mo Zi and Zichan shared some similarities in their beliefs, Zichan and Confucius also shared some similarities. “Zheng [the state of which Zichan was prime minister of] observes the rules of ritual propriety.” (Zuo, p. 45) The “rules of ritual propriety” referred to are the set of procedures that Zichan would follow when conducting matters of state and are one of the reasons Confucius admired him. These procedures no doubt also include guidelines for selecting government officials and the criteria officials must fulfill. As mentioned previously, Zichan selected first and foremost, capable men, which other such criteria coming in behind the measure of their capabilities. So while it would appear that Zichan took into consideration those qualities that define a Confucian gentlemen (although it is doubtful Zichan was actively trying to follow Confucius's beliefs), said qualities would play a much smaller role in his decision in appointing an official.

When Zipi asked Zichan to grant Yin He, Zichan's protégé , with a lordship, Zichan did not grant a lordship simply because of Zipi's argument, that Yin He was well tutored and faithful. Zichan denies the request, based off the fact that Zin He had no experience, and could cause both harm to himself and potentially Zichan, thus Zin He was untested and his capabilities unknown. In this way, Zichan is similar to Mo Zi and very much unlike most of the rulers of the current period who granted land and lordship to untested, and often, incapable men.

While all three of the men all had their own standards, and varied in their opinions, the one great similarity in their criteria for selecting an official, was that they did not select based merely off of lineage, or birth. During the Western Zhou period, almost all government posts were hereditary, or granted strictly to the nobility. But by the time of Zichan, Confucius, and Mo Zi, it was becoming clear to numerous rulers that the old Zhou system had its failures. Namely, that a man who is entitled to a government position will have little reason to feel loyalty and fealty to his ruler. The adoption of a different standard of measurement was thus, already coming into play during this time period. And for all their differences, Mo Zi, Zichan, and Confucius still shared a similar thread in their beliefs, inspired by the bleak times which they lived in.

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