The role of the Chinese family in pre-modern China included thoughts centered on Confucian thought and methods. The Chinese family followed different methods of Confucian thought and the division of family responsibilities in China developed because of it. The original text of Confucius that dictated the roles of filial piety in China did not specify gender dichotomy but the implications led Chinese scholars to distinguish the position of men following filial values from women. Pre-Modern China had the dominative power of dozens of dynasties. Confucianism developed ideologically during the Spring and Autumn Period (722-476BC) as an intellectual movement. Although Confucianism’s beliefs stem from the thought of acceptance involving humanities right to learn and grown through personal understanding and knowledge of outside influences there is a division between the male and female tasks in filial piety. The woman’s place in pre-modern Chinese society always depended on the male figure in the household unless the woman held an elder position. In most cases, women under Confucian control had little direction in life that men did not manage. In this paper, I will discuss the relationship among self, community, society, and the state as well as the gender relations and definitions of public and private spaces between men and women in China.
II. The Levels of Confucianism
Religion is an interesting aspect in the Chinese context because of the part it played in history. Christianity did not spread as successfully in the East as it did in Europe and the isolated thoughts of the Chinese at the time. The fundamentals of Confucianism include and encourage humanities pursuit of knowledge and understanding of their self and the environment surrounding them. The method of Confucianism begins with the self and expands into family, community, the country, the world and beyond.
In Confucianism, self-realization is the first step before one can expand their knowledge base and become better Confucians . Study of the self and compelling oneself to work harder towards creating a better self that can help the community held great importance. If a Chinese person could not transform himself into one that understood one’s spirituality, they could not become good Confucians. Learning for oneself instead of for others was an important factor in the knowledge base for Confucianism. The next step after transforming the self was to understand the responsibility of family in pre-modern China. The family relationship with the self created a sense of worth in self and helped family values by following traditions and respecting filial duties. Family was the most important and the elders held greater value over the rest of the family members. Unlike the West, the Chinese emphasize the importance of the extended family not the nuclear family. In Chinese tradition, a family could expect to share households with family members from many generations. One could...