Mandate of Heaven in Ancient China

What does the mandate of heaven tell us about the philosophy, religion, and social structure of the ancient Chinese? In what fundamental ways was the mandate of heaven different from other governmental systems in the ancient world? What were the limitations of the mandate of heaven? What was its long-term significance?

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Basically, the mandate of heaven (t’ian ming) states that Tian (gods/heavens/cosmos) would bless a ruler who was good and just, but withdraw support for a ruler who was tyrannical or a poor ruler. Being an emperor was an in-between position between heaven and earth. This rule was first used when the Chou overthrew the last Shang king. (They said that the last Shang king had become selfish and corrupt.) It came to be a deep philosophical and religious belief for the Chinese people, and it affected life in China for hundreds of years and defined their social structure. During the last years of the Chou dynasty, much of the ethics, the culture, and the political systems came into being.

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I’m going to quote a very good website here. I found this exact wording in multiple places. According to http://712educators.about.com/od/teachingaboutchina/a/mandate_heaven.htm

“The Mandate of Heaven is based on four principles:

The right to rule is granted by Heaven.
There is only one Heaven …

Solution Summary
What does the mandate of heaven tell us about the philosophy, religion, and social structure of the ancient Chinese? In what fundamental ways was the mandate of heaven different from other governmental systems in the ancient world? What were the limitations of the mandate of heaven? What was its long-term significance?

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