Political & Cultural Issues in Confucius' Time

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Unification of Northern China under Shi Huangdi of the Qin Dynasty

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Fall of the Zhou
  • 1:15 Political Problems
  • 2:15 Cultural Problems
  • 3:14 Confucius & His Solutions
  • 4:12 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Despite the best efforts of the Zhou, China soon had too many unemployed people for its own good and society became chaotic. Learn how Confucius helped pull China out of 400 years of strife in this lesson.

Fall of the Zhou

Unfortunately for the Zhou dynasty, its ability to organize and innovate had been its undoing. As the Zhou had created greater stability throughout China, people were able to grow more food, meaning that less people were actually needed on the farms. This influx of people away from the countryside and to the cities destabilized society because the people were poor and had little way to make a living. As the Zhou were unable to deal with the issue, different provinces of the Zhou rebelled, in effect fixing the problem of stability among peasants, while destroying any sort of stability between the local rulers.

For a while, the Zhou were able to have at least nominal power during a period known as the Spring and Autumn period. However, soon even that nominal power would evaporate. This period of chaos and warfare between warlords in China following the Zhou dynasty is called the Warring States period, and no leader of China was able to claim the Mandate of Heaven, or moral high ground that was supposed to guarantee a ruler's blessing from Heaven to rule. It was during this time that one of the greatest philosophers in history, Confucius, was born.

Political Problems

Political instability may be a bit of an understatement in explaining what was going on in China during the Warring States period. The once mighty Zhou dynasty had split into many smaller states, with the larger states themselves threatened with division. Each of these small states had armies that threatened to conquer their neighbors, and each state had a more secretive army of spies that threatened assassination at every turn.

Needless to say, this kept the state of affairs in China in a constant state of flux. It was impossible for any real diplomatic solutions to be reached because spies could quickly kill anyone who seemed open to a diplomatic solution. Additionally, no economic solutions could emerge because China was increasingly poor during this period. China has always depended on its agricultural produce as a form of wealth, and with so many armies marching through and burning everything, it was impossible for anyone to gain any wealth.

Cultural Problems

Meanwhile, the cultural binds that normally held China together had all but disintegrated. With no ruler able to claim the Mandate of Heaven, there was no real reason for people to show loyalty to their rulers. This meant that people, from peasants to local rulers, were disobeying the instructions of those who ruled them. Further, with a lack of food after marauding armies had marched through, individuals had no reason to show respect to their landlords by paying them, which in turn meant that landlords saw little reason to allow peasants to remain on their land.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support