China’s First Empire
Later Han (25 – 220)
Han Thoughts & Religion
– first dictionary, 100 CE – helping to unify communication
– scholars learned the classics by heart, wrote commentaries
– believed a virtuous emperor would order society & nature
– nature was a single interrelated system
– As summer follows spring, one color follows another, one number follows another, etc.
– yin & yang
– OPPOSITION: Everything has two opposite aspects. Yin & Yang struggle
with and control each other.
– INTER-DEPENDENCE: Yin & Yang define each other and therefore one cannot exist without the other. (If there is no down, which way is up?)
– 5 elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Metal, Wood
– Emperors & citizens must act in accord with Heaven’s natural system, then all would go well
– If not in accord, Heaven would send a warning: a blue dog, an eclipse, a comet
– If not heeded, misfortunes would follow
– Confucian scholars claimed to understand nature’s messages & advised emperor
– Advances in Han “science” – seismograph, astronomy, music & medicine
– Inventions: paper, wheelbarrow, rudders, compass
– Wrote more history than any other civilization, and more accurate too
– History seen as a lesson book or mirror
– Used first hand accounts & primary sources in writing history

Neo-Taoism (mysterious learning)
– Admired inner spontaneity – defied convention
– sought immortality: explored alchemy, dietary, abstinence or orgies, meditation