Agriculturalism

Agriculturalism, also known as the School of Agrarianism, the School of Agronomists, the School of Tillers, and in Chinese as the Nongjia (農家/农家), was an early agrarian Chinese philosophy that advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism, and was arguably the world's first Communist and Socialist movement that believed in a Classless society.[1] The Agriculturalists believed that Chinese society should be modeled around that of the early sage king Shennong, a folk hero who was portrayed in Chinese literature as "working in the fields, along with everyone else, and consulting with everyone else when any decision had to be reached."[1] They encouraged farming and agriculture and taught farming and cultivation techniques, as they believed that agricultural development was the key to a stable and prosperous society.

Agriculturalism was suppressed during the Qin Dynasty and most original texts are now lost. However, concepts originally associated with Agriculturalism have influenced Confucianism, Legalism, and Chinese philosophy as a whole.[2] Agriculturalism has significantly influenced Chinese thought, and has been viewed as an essence of the Chinese identity.[3]

History

Shennong3
To the Agriculturalists, the governance and focus on agriculture by the legendary ruler Shennong served as a model of the ideal government.

Agriculturalism dates back to the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought" which flourished from 770 to 221 BC. Throughout this period, competing states, seeking to war with one another and unite China as a single country, patronized philosophers, scholars, and teachers. The competition by scholars for the attention of rulers led to the development of different schools of thought, and the emphasis on recording teachings into books encouraged their spread.[4] The result was an era characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments.[4] The major philosophies of China, Confucianism, Mohism, Legalism, and Taoism, all originated from this period.

Chinese tradition attributes the origin of Agriculturalism to the Chinese minister Hou Ji, a figure known for his innovations in agriculture.[2] The Agriculturalists also emphasized the role of Shennong, the divine farmer, a semi-mythical ruler of early China credited by the Chinese as the inventor of agriculture. Shennong was seen as a proto-Agriculturalist, whose governance and focus on agriculture served as a model of the ideal Agriculturalist government.[2]

Xu Xing, a philosopher who defended Agriculturalism, settled with a group of followers in the state of Teng in about 315 BC. A disciple of his visited the Confucian philosopher Mencius, and a short report of their conversation discussing Xu Xing's philosophy survives.[5]

The rise of the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC saw the purge of the Hundred Schools of Thought, including Agriculturalism. The Legalist Qin dynasty was intolerant of other schools of thought, seeking to burn any text that did not adhere to the Legalist philosophy.[6] Because of this, few Agriculturalist texts exist, and most of what is known of Agriculturalism comes from critical assessments by other philosophical schools.[2]

The bibliography of the Book of Han (2nd century AD) presents Agriculturalism as one of 10 philosophical schools and lists 9 books belonging to that school.[5]

Philosophy

Agriculturalism is primarily a social, economic, and political philosophy. The philosophy is founded on the notion that human society originates with the development of agriculture, and societies are based upon "people's natural prospensity to farm."[2] The Agriculturalists described the ancient political system, seen as ideal, as one where "the means by which the early sage kings led their people was to put agriculture before all other affairs.. the reason why Hou Ji undertook agriculture was because he considered it to be the root of instructing the masses."[2]

Political

To the Agriculturalists, the ideal society, modeled after that of Shennong's, is communal, agrarian, and egalitarian.[1] The Agriculturalist believed that the ideal government is led by a benevolent king, one who works alongside the people in tilling the fields. The Agriculturalist king is not paid by the government through its treasuries; his livelihood is derived from the profits he earns working in the fields and cooking his own meals, not his leadership.[7] Said Xu Xing, a prominent Agriculturalist:

The ruler of Teng is an upright and worthy ruler. However, he has yet to hear the Way. A wise ruler tills the land together with his people to make his living. He governs while cooking his own meals. Now, that Teng has granaries and treasuries means that [the ruler] inflicts hardship on the people to fatten himself. How can he be a worthy ruler?

— Xu Xing[7]

Economic

Unlike the Confucians, the Agriculturalists did not believe in the division of labour, arguing instead that the economic policies of a country need to be based upon an egalitarian self sufficiency.[7] The Agriculturalists supported the fixing of prices, in which all similar goods, regardless of differences in quality and demand, are set at exactly the same, unchanging price. They suggested that people should be paid the same amount for the same services, a policy criticized by the Confucians as encouraging products of low quality, which "destroys the earnest standards of craftmanship."[7]

Reception

Agriculturalism was criticized extensively by rival philosophical schools, including the Mohist Mo Zi, the Confucian Mencius, and Yang Zhu.[2] Mencius criticized its chief proponent Xu Xing for advocating that rulers should work in the fields with their subjects, arguing that the Agriculturalist egalitarianism ignored the division of labour central to society. He points out that other early Chinese rulers did not work in fields, yet were equally as successful and revered as Shennong.[7] Mencius dismisses Xu Xing as a "Southern barbarian with a twittering tongue."[7]

Influence

The Legalist Qin Dynasty purged rival philosophical schools, including Agriculturalism, burning many Agriculturalist texts. However, Agriculturalism in its heyday heavily influenced the agrarian policies of Confucianism, Legalism, and other philosophical schools,[2] so many concepts originally associated with the Agriculturalists continued to exist in Chinese philosophy. The transmission and translation of Chinese philosophical texts in Europe during the 18th century had a heavy influence on the development of Agrarianism in Europe. The French agrarianist philosophy, a predecessor to modern Agrarianism, of François Quesnay and the Physiocrats, are said to have been modeled after the agrarian policies of Chinese philosophy.[8]

References

  1. ^ a b c Deutsch, Eliot; Ronald Bontekoei (1999). A companion to world philosophies. Wiley Blackwell. p. 183.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Sellmann, James Daryl (2010). Timing and rulership in Master Lü's Spring and Autumn annals. SUNY Press. p. 76.
  3. ^ Gladney, Dru (2004). Dislocating China. University of Chicago Press. p. 300.
  4. ^ a b Ebrey, Patricia (2010). The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge University Press. p. 42.
  5. ^ a b A. C. Graham (1979). "The "Nung-chia" 農 家 'School of the Tillers' and the Origins of Peasant Utopianism in China". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 42 (1): 66–100. doi:10.1017/s0041977x00108468. JSTOR 614828.
  6. ^ Ong, Siew Chey (2005). China condensed: 5000 years of history & culture. Marshall Cavendish. p. 16.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Denecke, Wiebke (2011). The Dynamics of Masters Literature: Early Chinese Thought from Confucius to Han Feizi. Harvard University Press. p. 38.
  8. ^ Maverick, Lewis A. (1938). "Chinese Influences Upon the Physiocrats". Economic History. 3.
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Australian philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the people of Australia and of its citizens abroad.

Chinese philosophy

Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years; some can be found in the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes), an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China: Confucianism, Legalism, and Taoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Mohism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.

Cosmology (philosophy)

Philosophical cosmology, philosophy of cosmology or philosophy of cosmos is a discipline directed to the philosophical contemplation of the universe as a totality, and to its conceptual foundations. It draws on several branches of philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, and on the fundamental theories of physics. The term cosmology was used at least as early as 1730, by German philosopher Christian Wolff, in Cosmologia Generalis.

Danish philosophy

Danish philosophy has a long tradition as part of Western philosophy.

Perhaps the most influential Danish philosopher was Søren Kierkegaard, the creator of Christian existentialism, which inspired the philosophical movement of Existentialism. Kierkegaard had a few Danish followers, including Harald Høffding, who later in his life moved on to join the movement of positivism. Among Kierkegaard's other followers include Jean-Paul Sartre who was impressed with Kierkegaard's views on the individual, and Rollo May, who helped create humanistic psychology.

Early modern philosophy

Early modern philosophy (also classical modern philosophy) is a period in the history of philosophy at the beginning or overlapping with the period known as modern philosophy.

Hou Ji

Hou Ji (or Houji; Chinese: 后稷; pinyin: Hòu Jì; Wade–Giles: Hou Chi) was a legendary Chinese culture hero credited with introducing millet to humanity during the time of the Xia dynasty. Millet was the original staple grain of northern China, prior to the introduction of wheat. His name translates as Lord of Millet and was a posthumous name bestowed on him by King Tang, the first of the Shang dynasty. Houji was credited with developing the philosophy of Agriculturalism and with service during the Great Flood in the reign of Yao; he was also claimed as an ancestor of the Ji clan that became the ruling family of the Zhou dynasty.

Hundred Schools of Thought

The Hundred Schools of Thought (Chinese: 諸子百家; pinyin: zhūzǐ bǎijiā) were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century to 221 B.C. during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China.An era of great cultural and intellectual expansion in China, it was fraught with chaos and bloody battles, but it was also known as the Golden Age of Chinese philosophy because a broad range of thoughts and ideas were developed and discussed freely. This phenomenon has been called the Contention of a Hundred Schools of Thought (百家爭鳴/百家争鸣; bǎijiā zhēngmíng; pai-chia cheng-ming; "hundred schools contend"). The thoughts and ideas discussed and refined during this period have profoundly influenced lifestyles and social consciousness up to the present day in East Asian countries and the East Asian diaspora around the world. The intellectual society of this era was characterized by itinerant scholars, who were often employed by various state rulers as advisers on the methods of government, war, and diplomacy.

This period ended with the rise of the imperial Qin dynasty and the subsequent purge of dissent.

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They were:

Confucianism (as interpreted by Mencius and others),

Legalism,

Taoism,

Mohism,

Agriculturalism,

two strains of Diplomatists,

the Logicians,

Sun Tzu's Militarists

NaturalistsAlthough only the first three of these went on to receive imperial patronage in later dynasties, doctrines from each influenced the others and Chinese society in sometimes unusual ways. The Mohists, for instance, found little interest in their praise of meritocracy but much acceptance for their mastery of defensive siege warfare; much later, however, their arguments against nepotism were used in favor of establishing the imperial examination system.

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School of Names

The Logicians or School of Names (Chinese: 名家; pinyin: Míngjiā) was a school of Chinese philosophy that grew out of Mohism during the Warring States period in 479–221 BCE. It is also sometimes called the School of Forms and Names (Chinese: 形名家; pinyin: Xíngmíngjiā; Wade–Giles: Hsing2-ming2-chia1). Deng Xi has been named its founder.

School of Naturalists

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Shennong

Shennong (神農, Shénnóng, which can be variously translated as "Divine Farmer" or "Divine Peasant", "Agriculture God"), also known as the Wugushen (五穀神 "Five Grains' or Five Cereals' God") or also Wuguxiandi (五穀先帝 "First Deity of the Five Grains"), is a mythological Chinese deity in Chinese folk religion and venerated as a mythical sage ruler of prehistoric China.

Shennong has at times been counted amongst the Three Sovereigns (also known as "Three Kings" or "Three Patrons"), a group of ancient deities or deified kings. Shennong has been thought to have taught the ancient Chinese not only their practices of agriculture, but also the use of herbal drugs. Shennong was credited with various inventions: these include the hoe, plow (both leisi style and the plowshare), axe, digging wells, agricultural irrigation, preserving stored seeds by using boiled horse urine, the weekly farmers market, the Chinese calendar (especially the division into the 24 jieqi or solar terms), and to have refined the therapeutic understanding of taking pulse measurements, acupuncture, and moxibustion, and to have instituted the harvest thanksgiving ceremony (Zhaji Sacrificial Rite, later known as the Laji Rite)."Shennong" can also be taken to refer to his people, the Shennong-shi (Chinese: 神農氏; pinyin: Shénnóngshì; literally: 'Shennong Clan').

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Si 思 is a concept in Chinese philosophy that is usually translated as "reflection" or "concentration." It refers to a species of attentive, non-rational thought that is directed at a specific subject.

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Xu Xing (philosopher)

Xu Xing (Chinese: 許行; Wade–Giles: Hsü Hsing) (c. 372 BC - c. 289 BC) was a Chinese philosopher and one of the most notable advocates of Agriculturalism, a political philosophy that advocated peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism. With a group of followers he settled in the state of Teng in about 315 BC. A disciple of his visited the Confucian philosopher Mencius, and a short report of their conversation discussing Xu Xing's philosophy survives.

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Yangism (Chinese: 楊朱學派; pinyin: Yángzhūxuépài) was a philosophical school founded by Yang Zhu, existent during the Warring States period (475 BCE – 221 BCE), that believed that human actions are and should be based on self-interest. The school has been described by sinologists as an early form of psychological and ethical egoism. The main focus of the Yangists was on the concept of xing, or human nature, a term later incorporated by Mencius into Confucianism. No documents directly authored by the Yangists have been discovered yet, and all that is known of the school comes from the comments of rival philosophers, specifically in the Chinese texts Huainanzi, Lüshi Chunqiu, Mengzi, and possibly the Liezi and Zhuangzi. The philosopher Mencius claimed that Yangism once rivaled Confucianism and Mohism, although the veracity of this claim remains controversial among sinologists. Because Yangism had largely faded into obscurity by the time that Sima Qian compiled his Shiji, the school was not included as one of the Hundred Schools of Thought.

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