Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Evolution of Filial Piety in Ancient China and Its Influence on Neighboring Countries: Taking the Classic of Filial Piety as the Chief Source

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Evolution of Filial Piety in Ancient China and Its Influence on Neighboring Countries: Taking the Classic of Filial Piety as the Chief Source

Article excerpt


Filial piety is a typical feature of Chinese civilization. Represented by the book of The Classic of Filial Piety, the filial culture in China experienced different periods of establishment, development and maturity. The pre-Qin period is the germination time for the filial culture, and the book of The Classic of Filial Piety, a systematic filial thought was formed in Warring States period. The rulers of Han dynasty drew hard lessons from Qin, which was ruined by its tyranny, and decided to govern the country with filial piety. During this period, Dong Zhongshu used Confucian classics to do judgments, preliminarily realized the legalization of Confucianism such as the filial piety. The formulation of the Tanglv Shuyi marks the full legalization of Confucianism, and filial piety was completely integrated into the legal norms. From Tang dynasty, most of the emperors in Chinese history all paid attention to The Classic of Filial Piety, even involved in the compilation of its explanatory notes, advocating to perform filial rule in the country. Since the Tang dynasty, with the strengthening of Chinese and foreign cultural exchanges, The Classic of Filial Piety and filial piety culture widely spread abroad. At the same time some neighboring areas such as Japan, the Korean peninsula and Vietnam was profoundly influenced by The Classic of Filial Piety and the filial piety culture.

Keywords: the classic of filial piety, filial piety, filial rule, cultural transmission

1. Introduction

Due to its peculiar charm, the ancient Chinese civilization not only affects the life of the Chinese people, but also has important influence on other Asian countries' civilization in history. The characteristics of Chinese civilization aroused the interests of many scholars at home and abroad. German philosopher Hegel had good evaluation on the characteristic of Chinese culture, saying that "China was purely constructed on the combination with morality, and the national characteristic is the objective family filial piety." (Hegel, 2006). In Chinese and western academic circles, the filial piety culture was generally acknowledged as the typical characteristics of the Chinese civilization. British philosopher Bertrand Russell was intensely curious about China's filial thought, and he pointed out that "filial piety is not exclusive to the Chinese, but a common phenomenon in the world in a certain cultural stage. Strangely, China still preserves the old habit when its culture has reached a relatively high level. Whereas in ancient Rome and Greek, which also pay attention to filial piety, family relationship gradually became loose with the development of civilization. But China is not the case."(Russell, 1996). It is true with the fact. With the development of Chinese civilization, the philosophy of filial piety and loyalty were combined and consolidated in the form of law, which promoted the continuation and development of filial piety. In a sense, Russell's confusion can be extended to the whole East Asian cultural circle, where filial piety is not dying with the development of civilization in South Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Thus the traditional filial piety has its reasonable aspect in history. Based on the interest in the idea of "filial piety", the research of this classic book of The Classic of Filial Piety becomes necessary. In history, this book is not only constantly legalized in Chinese history, but also widely spread to other Asian countries. From the perspective of the cultural heritage, the spread of The Classic of Filial Piety as well as the thought of "filial piety" has a profound significance to Asian cultural history.

2. The Classic of Filial Piety and Filial Piety in Chinese History

2.1 Filial Piety in Pre-Qin Period

During the Pre-Qin Period, ancient civilization has come into being in China, including the filial culture that we are familiar with. In the process of history, the filial piety originally comes from human's worship for their ancestors. …

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