1. What were some of the major effects of geography on the development of Chinese civilization?
  2. What were the major consequences of the development of permanent settlements in China?
  3. Discuss the importance of kinship in ancient Chinese state and society.
  4. In what respects was the Shang dynasty a formative period for Chinese civilization?
  5. How does the Chinese concept of Heaven differ from Judeo-Christian views of God?
  6. How did the five-class hierarchy in ancient Chinese society promote order and harmony? What was the basis for this system?
  7. The development of much of classical Chinese thought coincides with the turbulent period known as “Warring States.” How do you account for this convergence of warfare and intense philosophical development?
  8. What functions did religion serve in ancient China? How would you compare this with the role of religion in other civilizations?
  9. How did the disunity of the late Zhou period pave the way for the unity brought about by the state of Qin?
  1. Study the archaeology of China’s stone and bronze ages. What elements suggest indigenous origins for Chinese civilization? Are there elements that argue for outside influence?
  2. What are the limitations in using the term “feudalism” to describe the Zhou period? What are the advantages? How does this period compare with the feudal period in western Europe?
  3. Discuss the ways in which classical Chinese thought is a product of the realities of its time. Compare this with classical Greek, Roman, Indian, or Egyptian thought.
  4. Explore the role and importance of ritual (li) in ancient Chinese society.
  5. Investigate the origins of agriculture in China, and explore the impact of the development of agriculture on Chinese civilization.
  6. What is meant by the term “stimulus diffusion”? How does understanding this process help us understand ancient Chinese history?
  7. From any of the available English translations, analyze the moral and ethical teachings of the Daodejing. Compare these teaching with those found in the Analects of Confucius.
  8. Explore the origins of writing in China. When and why did writing develop? To what purposes was writing put? What was the long-term impact of the development of a Chinese writing system? Compare this with the development of writing in other cultures.
  9. Did ancient Chinese thinkers agree on the basic problems of Chinese society? Of so, how and why did their answers differ? What did the “Confucian” thinkers--Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi--have in common?
  10. Compare the ideas of China’s Legalists with those of Machiavelli. Do the same for China’s Confucians.


W.W. Norton
REVIEW: World Civilizations
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