The Religion of Measure
The first religion proper is that of ancient China. Hegel’s analysis, while mentioning Taoism and Confucianism, seems primarily to be concerned with the state religion that was introduced by the Zhou Dynasty, which ruled ancient China from 1045 BC to 256 BC. The Zhou defeated the Shang Dynasty and instituted a number of religious reforms. They introduced the idea of an impersonal deity named Tian, which represents a universal force of nature or the universe. In an effort to claim a special divine mandate for their dynasty, the Zhou conceived the emperor as having a unique relation to this deity, which had entrusted him with ruling the world. The emperor is thus regarded as the “Son of Heaven.” Chapter 3 explores Hegel’s critical analysis of this religion and his numerous sources of information about it, which for the most part come from Jesuit missionaries.
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