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For this essay, you are asked to compare Confucian, Daoist [Taoist], and Legalist ideas about how people should be governed. To do so, review what happened in China during the long Zhou Dynasty and the Qin Dynasty (Chapter 3, pp. 122-134; Khan Academy, “The Philosophers of the Warring States”). As our textbook explains, during the later Zhou Dynasty (the Warring States Period), China fell into disarray as several states warred with one another for the right to rule the land. It was in this context that individuals engaged in philosophical reflection on what was needful to restore order and a good society. These individuals were later categorized as belonging to different schools of thought. Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism were three of the most important.

For this essay,

Part I-Read the historical background of the philosophies in your textbook and then read selections on governing from Confucius’s Analects, the Laozi (“Old Master”, also known as the Dao de jing), and the Han Feizi (Master Han Fei). These are, respectively, Confucian, Daoist, and Legalist texts, and the selections introduce the author or the person to whom the writing is rightly or wrongly attributed.

Part II–To write this essay using our textbook and the other resources provided above, to introduce the historical setting (time, place, events), these three texts and their authors (or putative authors), and the topic of the paper. The topic for this paper is Confucian, Daoist, and Legalist ideas about how people should be governed, and their similarities or differences. Explain these ideas based strictly on these three primary sources (be sure to read the entire selection), using Berger to better help you understand the philosophies. The previous highlighted point is important. Go to these ancient sources for yourself, and develop your insights based on them, and explain your reasoning based on them. That means quoting or paraphrasing them as necessary to explain your thinking. Then conclude. Remember that when you quote a source you must place it within quotation marks and cite it. You must also cite a source if you paraphrase it–that is a standard method in all research.

Part III-Lastly, argue which one of the philosophies you think would best govern a country and why–that is explain your reasoning using historical examples from your textbook.

Writing Guidelines:

  • Your completed essay for the assignment should be roughly 800-1000 words–not including your bibliography.
  • You must write in complete sentences and paragraphs. Bullet points or lists will not be accepted.
  • All essays must include the following components in the order you see listed:
    • An introduction
    • A thesis.
    • A methodology
    • A main body of evidence to support your thesis.
    • Concluding points
    • Throughout the essay and for each paragraph you need to include one or more footnotes–to insert footnotes into your essay refer to this instruction. Essays without footnotes will not be earning marks higher than a C-.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFnH1YZOK1c
    • A bibliography–this is to be alphabeted.
  • Please cite your sources internally using footnotes–no paranthetical references allowed.  Also, you must include a complete bibliography at the end of your paper.
  • Introducing materials from other sources outside of those allowed risks plagiarism and should be avoided. 
  • Use ONLY Turabian format for your footnotes and your  bibliography. NOTE: All paragraphs must have at least one footnote since all of your writing will be reliant on your understanding of our allowed sources.
  • Be original – This means the writing ought to be in your own words and not the words of other authors. All papers submitted in this class are reviewed via Turnitin.com, a proprietary software database that identifies unoriginal material in papers. Please review the syllabus statement regarding the penalty for plagiarism.
  • Refer to the Guidelines for Writing your Essay on the syllabus for additional writing assignment criteria.
  • Submit your citations and bibliography within your paper.  Everything should be saved and submitted in one document.


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