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First Essay Question: Hierarchy in Early China
The ideal world depicted in Confucian texts is unabashedly one of hierarchy. To the Confucian, a harmonious world is one in which the ruler presides over the minister, the father over the son, the husband over the wife, and the elder brother over the younger brother. In the first decades of the twentieth century, Chinese thinkers attacked Confucianism because of these hierarchical qualities, which they dubbed “authoritarian.” With an eye to this criticism, craft an argument about the nature and role of hierarchy in Confucian thought. One question that may aid your thinking: Is hierarchy tantamount to oppression? Please note that only assigned sources may be used.
Your essay will be judged by the extent to which:
• You offer a sound and convincing argument;
• You demonstrate careful reading of the sources;
• You include ideas from lecture and other assigned readings as appropriate;
• You craft a well-written and well-constructed essay;
• You demonstrate understanding of the history presented thus far in class;
• You are able to write a paper that is free of careless errors.
Papers should be approximately 1200 words in length. You do not need to submit a hard copy. Instead, upload your paper to Blackboard using the “Submit Assignments” tab. Your paper should be double-spaced, and your name should appear on page 1. You must carefully cite all quoted material and evidence presented in your essays. For the Analects, use page numbers to the Leys translation, or book, chapter, verse citation format.


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