Religious Influences on Social Structure

 

Assignment:
This week, we explored the influence of different religious beliefs and religious structures on the development of civilizations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Consider how these religious differences shaped the cultures around them. How did mythology affect the decisions of the working and ruling classes? What role did ritual (i.e., prayer, sacrifice, public celebrations, or morality) play in developing the markers of civilization such as the economy or the government? 

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Example:
 
Across the world and throughout history, religious views have always and will continue to influence cultures which thusly influences government.  In China, where Buddhism once flourished during the Tang dynasty, the Sung dynasty viewed Buddhism as “foreign”.  Through creative reinterpretation of the original Confucian core to meet new spiritual and intellectual expectations, they were able blend aspects of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism together to form Neo-Confucianism[1].  This new blended religion represented a synthesis in which ethics and epistemology-Confucian, humanist-based morality coupled with the speculative ventures of Doaists and Buddhists – created a complete, self-sustaining system.[2] 
While there are some commonalities between Japan, Korea and Vietnam and their decisions to follow Neo-Confucianism, each made concessions or adaptations based on their beliefs.  Unlike Korea and Vietnam, Japan voluntarily adopted the Chinese cultural influences (including government, ethics, philosophy, literature and Buddhism) based on their own needs rather than have them imposed by conquest.[3]
Religion is what connected each class, offered guidance and promoted a singular set of beliefs to follow.  And while each of these countries has similar religions and governments, there were also differing core beliefs.  These differing viewpoints would inevitably bring upon war or reform.

[1] Kalton, Michael. “Neo-Confucianism.” Neo-Confucianism. Accessed May 15, 2020. https://faculty.washington.edu/mkalton/NeoConfucianism.htm.
[2] Von Sivers, Peter, Charles A. Desnoyers, George B. Stow, Patterns of World History Volume One to 1600, (Oxford University Press, 2018) 368
[3] Von Sivers, Peter, Charles A. Desnoyers, George B. Stow, Patterns of World History Volume One to 1600, (Oxford University Press, 2018) 398
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