Individualism Vs. European Christianity

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Shelley Li Ms. Cassell G Block 16 September 2015 History When people join together, they create society. When societies join together, they create history. The efforts of the people who orchestrate the course of events shapes not only our modern world, but the course of human history. But why is that, throughout history, certain societies were able to dominate the historical stage, and other societies go extinct? For example, Europe and China both had a “Golden Age”, but in the modern world, Europe becomes the “sole power”, while China lives in just a corner of the world. Why were the Europeans able to connect territories of the world, while Chinese choose to isolate itself? If China invented all of the fundamental technologies, why was…show more content…
How did Europeans excel at manipulating resources to eventually change the world? What is the European secret to success? Perhaps Chinese Confucianism’s focus on society versus European Christianity’s focus on individualism reveals the answer. Europeans were able to turn premade technologies into sciences and spread them to the world, because their Christian faith embraced independent, critical investigation and encouraged voyages of discovery. In contrast, the Confucian emphasis on social unity and the pride of being the “Middle Kingdom” restricted the Chinese’s ability to advance their own technologies. As historian Rodney Stark writes, “Christianity was oriented to the future, while [Confucianism] asserted the superiority of the past” (10). While Confucianism emphasized obedience and pride of just being China, Christianity stressed the importance of independence and an eagerness to discover the world. These differences set the stage for European global…show more content…
In the Chinese Famine of 1876–79, many people starved and could not do anything about it because the values that emphasized unity never taught the essential knowledge the individuals need in order to survive independently. For example, according to Ning Lao Tai Tai, a first-hand account on the famine, “women knew nothing but to comb our hair and bind our feet and wait at home for our men.When [the woman] had been hungry she … sat at home and waited for [the man] to bring her food” (Pruitt 55). But if the Chinese could invent inventions, why could they not develop machines that could aid the agriculture? The answer has to do with Confucianism and its overfocus on social harmony. With a machine, people no longer had to work together to get something done; people would just have to rely on themselves and do not have to collaborate. Individualism resulting from the machine could potentially harm the social relationships, causing a chaotic society, and leading to its collapse. In an effort to enforce unity, the Chinese never thought of developing machines, which ironically led to the starvation of the

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