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How strong is the current theory of the beginnings of Chinese writing?

How strong is the current theory of the beginnings of Chinese writing?


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I've heard the claim that the current Chinese calendar was introduced some times around 2637 BCE by Emperor Huang Di. Apparently, written records date back to about 4,000 years ago and before that the Chinese didn't put dates on their documents. Does anybody know how well supported is this claim? Is it possible that the historical evidence is not accurate, and that the calendar and Chinese writing could have happened a few centuries later than the above-mentioned dates? Thanks.


The Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) is a mythical character to which many inventions are attributed. However, like King Arthur or Robin Hood, there is no evidence that he ever really existed.

The legend actually does not credit the Yellow Emperor with creating Chinese script, but rather to his historiographer and magician named Chang Jie.

The earliest forms of Chinese writing that can directly trace to modern Chinese writing are called Jiaguwen script (甲骨文). Over 150,000 fragments of Jiaguwen were found at Anyang in Henan Province.

The Jiaguwen writings were carved on tortoise shells which were then cracked by burning in a fire. The pattern of cracking allowed divination and fortune telling. The Jiaguwen script dates to the late Shang Dynasty and a few continued to be used into the early Zhou dynasty. The dates being spread between 1400 BC and 1050 BC.

Jiaguwen was already a well defined writing system by at that time leading some to speculate the the first script was several hundred years earlier than this.

Since these writings were made on tortoise shells, an organic matter, they can be accurately dated using modern methods such as carbon dating or similar. We don't only depend on historical documentation. We can thus be reasonably certain of the dates involved.

Re-reading your question, I think you have miss understood what the Chinese calendar is. The Chinese used a calendar to measure time and place events but not in the way that we use a calendar today. They don't write dates on documents using the Chinese calender like we might write 7-16-2013. There isn't a single start point from which everyone begins. There is not Chinese calendar equivalent of 1AD.

The Chinese used reigns of emperors to measure years e.g., the year 825 BC was marked as the 3rd Year of the Xuan King Jing of Zhou (周宣王三年). From the Han dynasty on, the reigns were given names by the emperor. These regnal names might be changed several times during the rule of one emperor. The Ming and Qing usually used one regnal name per emperor. However, no reigns were used prior to 841 BC during the Zhou dynasty.

So the Jiaguwen script doesn't say what year and date it was writen. It may mention times, days, months but not a year that can be translated into our modern calendar system. So there is no document to say how old it is.


Full writing-systems appear to have been invented independently at least four times in human history: first in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) where cuneiform was used between 3400 and 3300 BC, and shortly afterwards in Egypt at around 3200 BC. By 1300 BC we have evidence of a fully operational writing system in late Shang-dynasty China. Sometime between 900 and 600 BC writing also appears in the cultures of Mesoamerica.

There are also several places such as the Indus River valley and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) where writing may have been invented but it remains undeciphered.

Although these dates suggest that writing could have spread out from one central point of origin, there is little evidence of any links between these systems, with each possessing unique qualities.


1. The History of AI

The field of artificial intelligence (AI) officially started in 1956, launched by a small but now-famous DARPA-sponsored summer conference at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. (The 50-year celebration of this conference, [email protected], was held in July 2006 at Dartmouth, with five of the original participants making it back. [2] What happened at this historic conference figures in the final section of this entry.) Ten thinkers attended, including John McCarthy (who was working at Dartmouth in 1956), Claude Shannon, Marvin Minsky, Arthur Samuel, Trenchard Moore (apparently the lone note-taker at the original conference), Ray Solomonoff, Oliver Selfridge, Allen Newell, and Herbert Simon. From where we stand now, into the start of the new millennium, the Dartmouth conference is memorable for many reasons, including this pair: one, the term &lsquoartificial intelligence&rsquo was coined there (and has long been firmly entrenched, despite being disliked by some of the attendees, e.g., Moore) two, Newell and Simon revealed a program &ndash Logic Theorist (LT) &ndash agreed by the attendees (and, indeed, by nearly all those who learned of and about it soon after the conference) to be a remarkable achievement. LT was capable of proving elementary theorems in the propositional calculus. [3] [4]

Though the term &lsquoartificial intelligence&rsquo made its advent at the 1956 conference, certainly the field of AI, operationally defined (defined, i.e., as a field constituted by practitioners who think and act in certain ways), was in operation before 1956. For example, in a famous Mind paper of 1950, Alan Turing argues that the question &ldquoCan a machine think?&rdquo (and here Turing is talking about standard computing machines: machines capable of computing functions from the natural numbers (or pairs, triples, &hellip thereof) to the natural numbers that a Turing machine or equivalent can handle) should be replaced with the question &ldquoCan a machine be linguistically indistinguishable from a human?.&rdquo Specifically, he proposes a test, the &ldquoTuring Test&rdquo (TT) as it&rsquos now known. In the TT, a woman and a computer are sequestered in sealed rooms, and a human judge, in the dark as to which of the two rooms contains which contestant, asks questions by email (actually, by teletype, to use the original term) of the two. If, on the strength of returned answers, the judge can do no better than 50/50 when delivering a verdict as to which room houses which player, we say that the computer in question has passed the TT. Passing in this sense operationalizes linguistic indistinguishability. Later, we shall discuss the role that TT has played, and indeed continues to play, in attempts to define AI. At the moment, though, the point is that in his paper, Turing explicitly lays down the call for building machines that would provide an existence proof of an affirmative answer to his question. The call even includes a suggestion for how such construction should proceed. (He suggests that &ldquochild machines&rdquo be built, and that these machines could then gradually grow up on their own to learn to communicate in natural language at the level of adult humans. This suggestion has arguably been followed by Rodney Brooks and the philosopher Daniel Dennett (1994) in the Cog Project. In addition, the Spielberg/Kubrick movie A.I. is at least in part a cinematic exploration of Turing&rsquos suggestion. [5] ) The TT continues to be at the heart of AI and discussions of its foundations, as confirmed by the appearance of (Moor 2003). In fact, the TT continues to be used to define the field, as in Nilsson&rsquos (1998) position, expressed in his textbook for the field, that AI simply is the field devoted to building an artifact able to negotiate this test. Energy supplied by the dream of engineering a computer that can pass TT, or by controversy surrounding claims that it has already been passed, is if anything stronger than ever, and the reader has only to do an internet search via the string

to find up-to-the-minute attempts at reaching this dream, and attempts (sometimes made by philosophers) to debunk claims that some such attempt has succeeded.

Returning to the issue of the historical record, even if one bolsters the claim that AI started at the 1956 conference by adding the proviso that &lsquoartificial intelligence&rsquo refers to a nuts-and-bolts engineering pursuit (in which case Turing&rsquos philosophical discussion, despite calls for a child machine, wouldn&rsquot exactly count as AI per se), one must confront the fact that Turing, and indeed many predecessors, did attempt to build intelligent artifacts. In Turing&rsquos case, such building was surprisingly well-understood before the advent of programmable computers: Turing wrote a program for playing chess before there were computers to run such programs on, by slavishly following the code himself. He did this well before 1950, and long before Newell (1973) gave thought in print to the possibility of a sustained, serious attempt at building a good chess-playing computer. [6]

From the perspective of philosophy, which views the systematic investigation of mechanical intelligence as meaningful and productive separate from the specific logicist formalisms (e.g., first-order logic) and problems (e.g., the Entscheidungsproblem) that gave birth to computer science, neither the 1956 conference, nor Turing&rsquos Mind paper, come close to marking the start of AI. This is easy enough to see. For example, Descartes proposed TT (not the TT by name, of course) long before Turing was born. [7] Here&rsquos the relevant passage:

At the moment, Descartes is certainly carrying the day. [8] Turing predicted that his test would be passed by 2000, but the fireworks across the globe at the start of the new millennium have long since died down, and the most articulate of computers still can&rsquot meaningfully debate a sharp toddler. Moreover, while in certain focussed areas machines out-perform minds (IBM&rsquos famous Deep Blue prevailed in chess over Gary Kasparov, e.g. and more recently, AI systems have prevailed in other games, e.g. Jeopardy! and Go, about which more will momentarily be said), minds have a (Cartesian) capacity for cultivating their expertise in virtually any sphere. (If it were announced to Deep Blue, or any current successor, that chess was no longer to be the game of choice, but rather a heretofore unplayed variant of chess, the machine would be trounced by human children of average intelligence having no chess expertise.) AI simply hasn&rsquot managed to create general intelligence it hasn&rsquot even managed to produce an artifact indicating that eventually it will create such a thing.

But what about IBM Watson&rsquos famous nail-biting victory in the Jeopardy! game-show contest? [9] That certainly seems to be a machine triumph over humans on their &ldquohome field,&rdquo since Jeopardy! delivers a human-level linguistic challenge ranging across many domains. Indeed, among many AI cognoscenti, Watson&rsquos success is considered to be much more impressive than Deep Blue&rsquos, for numerous reasons. One reason is that while chess is generally considered to be well-understood from the formal-computational perspective (after all, it&rsquos well-known that there exists a perfect strategy for playing chess), in open-domain question-answering (QA), as in any significant natural-language processing task, there is no consensus as to what problem, formally speaking, one is trying to solve. Briefly, question-answering (QA) is what the reader would think it is: one asks a question of a machine, and gets an answer, where the answer has to be produced via some &ldquosignificant&rdquo computational process. (See Strzalkowski & Harabagiu (2006) for an overview of what QA, historically, has been as a field.) A bit more precisely, there is no agreement as to what underlying function, formally speaking, question-answering capability computes. This lack of agreement stems quite naturally from the fact that there is of course no consensus as to what natural languages are, formally speaking. [10] Despite this murkiness, and in the face of an almost universal belief that open-domain question-answering would remain unsolved for a decade or more, Watson decisively beat the two top human Jeopardy! champions on the planet. During the contest, Watson had to answer questions that required not only command of simple factoids (Question1), but also of some amount of rudimentary reasoning (in the form of temporal reasoning) and commonsense (Question2):

Question1: The only two consecutive U.S. presidents with the same first name.

Question2: In May 1898, Portugal celebrated the 400th anniversary of this explorer&rsquos arrival in India.

While Watson is demonstrably better than humans in Jeopardy!-style quizzing (a new human Jeopardy! master could arrive on the scene, but as for chess, AI now assumes that a second round of IBM-level investment would vanquish the new human opponent), this approach does not work for the kind of NLP challenge that Descartes described that is, Watson can&rsquot converse on the fly. After all, some questions don&rsquot hinge on sophisticated information retrieval and machine learning over pre-existing data, but rather on intricate reasoning right on the spot. Such questions may for instance involve anaphora resolution, which require even deeper degrees of commonsensical understanding of time, space, history, folk psychology, and so on. Levesque (2013) has catalogued some alarmingly simple questions which fall in this category. (Marcus, 2013, gives an account of Levesque&rsquos challenges that is accessible to a wider audience.) The other class of question-answering tasks on which Watson fails can be characterized as dynamic question-answering. These are questions for which answers may not be recorded in textual form anywhere at the time of questioning, or for which answers are dependent on factors that change with time. Two questions that fall in this category are given below (Govindarajulu et al. 2013):

Question3: If I have 4 foos and 5 bars, and if foos are not the same as bars, how many foos will I have if I get 3 bazes which just happen to be foos?

Question4: What was IBM&rsquos Sharpe ratio in the last 60 days of trading?

Closely following Watson&rsquos victory, in March 2016, Google DeepMind&rsquos AlphaGo defeated one of Go&rsquos top-ranked players, Lee Seedol, in four out of five matches. This was considered a landmark achievement within AI, as it was widely believed in the AI community that computer victory in Go was at least a few decades away, partly due to the enormous number of valid sequences of moves in Go compared to that in Chess. [11] While this is a remarkable achievement, it should be noted that, despite breathless coverage in the popular press, [12] AlphaGo, while indisputably a great Go player, is just that. For example, neither AlphaGo nor Watson can understand the rules of Go written in plain-and-simple English and produce a computer program that can play the game. It&rsquos interesting that there is one endeavor in AI that tackles a narrow version of this very problem: In general game playing, a machine is given a description of a brand new game just before it has to play the game (Genesereth et al. 2005). However, the description in question is expressed in a formal language, and the machine has to manage to play the game from this description. Note that this is still far from understanding even a simple description of a game in English well enough to play it.

But what if we consider the history of AI not from the perspective of philosophy, but rather from the perspective of the field with which, today, it is most closely connected? The reference here is to computer science. From this perspective, does AI run back to well before Turing? Interestingly enough, the results are the same: we find that AI runs deep into the past, and has always had philosophy in its veins. This is true for the simple reason that computer science grew out of logic and probability theory, [13] which in turn grew out of (and is still intertwined with) philosophy. Computer science, today, is shot through and through with logic the two fields cannot be separated. This phenomenon has become an object of study unto itself (Halpern et al. 2001). The situation is no different when we are talking not about traditional logic, but rather about probabilistic formalisms, also a significant component of modern-day AI: These formalisms also grew out of philosophy, as nicely chronicled, in part, by Glymour (1992). For example, in the one mind of Pascal was born a method of rigorously calculating probabilities, conditional probability (which plays a particularly large role in AI, currently), and such fertile philosophico-probabilistic arguments as Pascal&rsquos wager, according to which it is irrational not to become a Christian.

That modern-day AI has its roots in philosophy, and in fact that these historical roots are temporally deeper than even Descartes&rsquo distant day, can be seen by looking to the clever, revealing cover of the second edition (the third edition is the current one) of the comprehensive textbook Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (known in the AI community as simply AIMA2e for Russell & Norvig, 2002).

Cover of AIMA2e (Russell & Norvig 2002)

What you see there is an eclectic collection of memorabilia that might be on and around the desk of some imaginary AI researcher. For example, if you look carefully, you will specifically see: a picture of Turing, a view of Big Ben through a window (perhaps R&N are aware of the fact that Turing famously held at one point that a physical machine with the power of a universal Turing machine is physically impossible: he quipped that it would have to be the size of Big Ben), a planning algorithm described in Aristotle&rsquos De Motu Animalium, Frege&rsquos fascinating notation for first-order logic, a glimpse of Lewis Carroll&rsquos (1958) pictorial representation of syllogistic reasoning, Ramon Lull&rsquos concept-generating wheel from his 13 th -century Ars Magna, and a number of other pregnant items (including, in a clever, recursive, and bordering-on-self-congratulatory touch, a copy of AIMA itself). Though there is insufficient space here to make all the historical connections, we can safely infer from the appearance of these items (and here we of course refer to the ancient ones: Aristotle conceived of planning as information-processing over two-and-a-half millennia back and in addition, as Glymour (1992) notes, Artistotle can also be credited with devising the first knowledge-bases and ontologies, two types of representation schemes that have long been central to AI) that AI is indeed very, very old. Even those who insist that AI is at least in part an artifact-building enterprise must concede that, in light of these objects, AI is ancient, for it isn&rsquot just theorizing from the perspective that intelligence is at bottom computational that runs back into the remote past of human history: Lull&rsquos wheel, for example, marks an attempt to capture intelligence not only in computation, but in a physical artifact that embodies that computation. [14]

AIMA has now reached its the third edition, and those interested in the history of AI, and for that matter the history of philosophy of mind, will not be disappointed by examination of the cover of the third installment (the cover of the second edition is almost exactly like the first edition). (All the elements of the cover, separately listed and annotated, can be found online.) One significant addition to the cover of the third edition is a drawing of Thomas Bayes his appearance reflects the recent rise in the popularity of probabilistic techniques in AI, which we discuss later.

One final point about the history of AI seems worth making.

It is generally assumed that the birth of modern-day AI in the 1950s came in large part because of and through the advent of the modern high-speed digital computer. This assumption accords with common-sense. After all, AI (and, for that matter, to some degree its cousin, cognitive science, particularly computational cognitive modeling, the sub-field of cognitive science devoted to producing computational simulations of human cognition) is aimed at implementing intelligence in a computer, and it stands to reason that such a goal would be inseparably linked with the advent of such devices. However, this is only part of the story: the part that reaches back but to Turing and others (e.g., von Neuman) responsible for the first electronic computers. The other part is that, as already mentioned, AI has a particularly strong tie, historically speaking, to reasoning (logic-based and, in the need to deal with uncertainty, inductive/probabilistic reasoning). In this story, nicely told by Glymour (1992), a search for an answer to the question &ldquoWhat is a proof?&rdquo eventually led to an answer based on Frege&rsquos version of first-order logic (FOL): a (finitary) mathematical proof consists in a series of step-by-step inferences from one formula of first-order logic to the next. The obvious extension of this answer (and it isn&rsquot a complete answer, given that lots of classical mathematics, despite conventional wisdom, clearly can&rsquot be expressed in FOL even the Peano Axioms, to be expressed as a finite set of formulae, require SOL) is to say that not only mathematical thinking, but thinking, period, can be expressed in FOL. (This extension was entertained by many logicians long before the start of information-processing psychology and cognitive science &ndash a fact some cognitive psychologists and cognitive scientists often seem to forget.) Today, logic-based AI is only part of AI, but the point is that this part still lives (with help from logics much more powerful, but much more complicated, than FOL), and it can be traced all the way back to Aristotle&rsquos theory of the syllogism. [15] In the case of uncertain reasoning, the question isn&rsquot &ldquoWhat is a proof?&rdquo, but rather questions such as &ldquoWhat is it rational to believe, in light of certain observations and probabilities?&rdquo This is a question posed and tackled long before the arrival of digital computers.


Wuhan Lab-leak Theory Timeline

Wuhan Institute of Virology is a research institute by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Jiangxia District, south of the Wuhan city, Hubei province, China, December 2016. Photo by Ureem2805, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Over at The Washington Post, Fact Checker Glenn Kessler has a timeline laying out the Wuhan lab-leak theory that has the Covid-19 pandemic originating from the Chinese Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The timeline is a bit long, but the context is an important one. The “suddenly” there is going to get scoffed at by the group of folks who have maintained from the start that there was lab leak that was covered up to one degree or another. As Kessler notes, the Wuhan lab-leak theory emerged almost immediately, but between the Chinese government’s efforts to CYA any responsibility at all and the discussion of the virus turning into a social and political grenade that left some running for cover, some wielding it like a weapon, and a bunch of other folks not knowing who or what to believe, it has always labored under the most important and powerful players in this drama not wanting it discussed.

It’s also worth noting several things can be true at once. The Wuhan lab-leak theory doesn’t exclude a natural cause of Coronavirus before it’s rapid spread into a global pandemic, and doesn’t mean the leak was malicious or intentional. I doubt we ever find the real answer. The Wuhan lab-leak theory will probably be forever just that, unprovable and forever a source of controversy, conspiracy, and anger. There will be, and should be, investigations. With the Chinese government as it is, calls for investigations a year and half later are going to be so much spitting in the wind as far as truth finding goes. But it will be important to not memory hole who reacted how, who were honest brokers of information, who jammed current events into their ongoing agendas, and who can and can’t admit they maybe didn’t handle the Covid-19 crisis as well as they could have.


Women in Traditional China

In China from very early times, men have been seen as the core of the family. The ancestors to whom a Shang or Zhou dynasty king made sacrifices were his patrilineal ancestors, that is, his ancestors linked exclusively through men (his father’s father, his father’s father’s father, and so on). When women enter the early historical record, it is often because they caused men problems. Some women schemed to advance their own sons when their husband had sons by several women. Women’s loyalties were often in question. In 697 BCE, for instance, the daughter of one of the most powerful ministers in the state of Zheng learned from her husband that the ruler had ordered him to kill her father. After her mother advised her that “All men are potential husbands, but you have only one father,” she told her father of the plot, and he promptly killed her husband. The ruler of Zheng placed the blame on the husband for foolishly confiding in his wife. Taken together, accounts of these sorts present a mixed picture of women and the problems they presented for men in the nobility. The women in their lives were capable of loyalty, courage, and devotion, but also of intrigue, manipulation, and selfishness.

Confucius probably took for granted these sorts of attitudes toward women, common in his society. He greatly esteemed ancestral rites and related family virtues such as filial piety. He hoped that through the practice of ritual everyone, male and female, high and low, old and young, would learn to fulfill the duties of their roles. Women’s roles were primarily kinship roles: daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, and mother-in-law. In all these roles, it was incumbent on women to accord with the wishes and needs of closely-related men: their fathers when young, their husbands when married, their sons when widowed. Confucius’s follower Mencius declared that the worst of unfilial acts was a failure to have descendants (Mencius 4A.26). In later centuries this emphasis on the necessity of sons led many to be disappointed at the birth of a daughter.

In the centuries after Confucius, it became common for writers to discuss gender in terms of yin and yang. Women were yin, men were yang. Yin was soft, yielding, receptive, passive, reflective, and tranquil, whereas yang was hard, active, assertive, and dominating. Day and night, winter and summer, birth and death, indeed all natural processes occur though processes of interaction of yin and yang. Conceptualizing the differences between men and women in terms of yin and yang stresses that these differences are part of the natural order of the universe, not part of the social institutions artificially created by human beings. In yin yang theory the two forces complement each other but not in strictly equal ways. The natural relationship between yin and yang is the reason that men lead and women follow. If yin unnaturally gains the upper hand, order at both the cosmic and social level are endangered.

Maintaining a physical separation between the worlds of men and the worlds of women was viewed as an important first step toward assuring that yin would not dominate yang. The Confucian classic the Book of Rites stressed the value of segregation even within the home houses should be divided into an inner and an outer section, with the women staying in the inner part. One poem in the Book of Poetry concluded: “Women should not take part in public affairs they should devote themselves to tending silkworms and weaving.” A similar sentiment was expressed in the Book of Documents in proverbial form: “When the hen announces the dawn, it signals the demise of the family.”

During Han times (202 BCE – 220 CE), both the administrative structure of the centralized state and the success of Confucianism helped shape the Chinese family system and women’s place in it. Han laws supported the authority of family heads over the other members of their families. The family head was generally the senior male, but if a man died before his sons were grown, his widow would serve as family head until they were of age. The law codes of the imperial period enforced monogamy and provided a variety of punishments for bigamy and for promoting a concubine to the status of wife. Men could divorce their wives on any of seven grounds, which included barrenness, jealousy, and talkativeness, but could do so only if there was a family for her to return to. There were no grounds on which a woman could divorce her husband, but divorce by mutual agreement was possible.

Much was written in Han times on the virtues women should cultivate. The Biographies of Exemplary Women told the stories of women from China’s past who had given their husbands good advice, sacrificed themselves when forced to choose between their fathers and husbands, or performed other heroic deeds. It also contained cautionary tales about scheming, jealous, and manipulative women who brought destruction to all around them. Another very influential book was written by Ban Zhao, a well-educated woman from a prominent family. Her Admonitions for Women urged girls to master the seven virtues appropriate to women: humility, resignation, subservience, self-abasement, obedience, cleanliness, and industry.

By the end of the Han period, the Confucian vocabulary for talking about women, their natures, their weaknesses, and their proper roles and virtues was largely established. The durability of these ways of thinking undoubtedly owes much to continuities in the family system, which from Han times on was patrilineal, patrilocal, and patriarchical, and allowed concubinage. At marriage a woman had to move from the household of her father to that of her husband’s parents. Given the importance assigned to continuing the ancestral sacrifices through patrilineal descendants, a wife’s standing within her family of marriage depended on the birth of male heirs. Yet, because of the practice of concubinage, even if a wife bore sons, her standing could be undermined if her husband took concubines who also bore sons. Thus, so long as the family system continued without major change, women would continue to resort to strategies that seemed petty or threatening to men, and not until a woman became a grandmother was she likely to see the interests of the family in the same way men in the family did. To most of those who left written record, however, the problem did not lie in the family system, but in moral lapses. Thus, moralists held up models of self-sacrificing women for emulation, women who adhered to principles of loyalty, chastity, and faithfulness, often at great personal cost.

By Song (960-1279) times, historical sources are diverse enough to see that women undertook a wide range of activities never prescribed in Confucian didactic texts. There were widows who ran inns, midwives delivering babies, pious women who spent their days chanting sutras, nuns who called on such women to explain Buddhist doctrine, girls who learned to read with their brothers, farmers’ daughters who made money by weaving mats, childless widows who accused their nephews of seizing their property, wives who were jealous of the concubines their husbands brought home, and women who drew from their dowries to help their husband’s sisters marry well.

It is often said that the status of women began to decline in the Song period, just when Neo-Confucianism was gaining sway. The two signs of this decline most frequently mentioned are the pressure on widows not to remarry and the practice of binding young girls’ feet to prevent them from growing more than a few inches long. Foot binding seems to have steadily spread during Song times, and explanations for it should be sought in Song circumstances, but widow chastity had very little specific connection to the Song, the idea predating the Song and the exaggerated emphasis on it developing much later.

Foot binding was never recommended by Confucian teachers rather, it was associated with the pleasure quarters and with women’s efforts to beautify themselves. Mothers bound the feet of girls aged five to eight, using long strips of cloth. The goal was to keep their feet from growing and to bend the four smaller toes under to make the foot narrow and arched. Foot binding spread gradually during Song times but probably remained largely an elite practice. In later centuries, it became extremely common in north and central China, eventually spreading to all classes. Women with bound feet were less mobile than women with natural feet, but only those who could afford servants bound their feet so tight that walking was difficult.

By contrast, the idea of widow chastity was not new in Song times. Ban Zhao had written, “According to ritual, husbands have a duty to marry again, but there is no text that authorizes a woman to remarry.” The increased emphasis on widow chastity has usually been blamed on the Neo-Confucian philosopher Cheng Yi, who once told a follower that it would be better for a widow to die of starvation than to lose her virtue by remarrying. In later centuries, this saying was often quoted to justify pressuring widows, even very young ones, to stay with their husband’s family and not marry someone else. One reason widows in Yuan (Mongol) (1215-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) times might have wanted to remain with their husbands’ families is that they no longer could take their dowries into a new marriage. When the husband’s family did not want to provide support for a son’s widow, the moral stricture against remarriage would have helped the widow insist that she be allowed to stay and adopt a son.

By the early Qing period (1644-1911), the cult of widow chastity had gained a remarkably strong hold, especially in the educated class. Childless widows might even commit suicide. Young women whose weddings had not yet taken place sometimes refused to enter into another engagement after their fiancé died. Instead, they would move to their fiancé’s home and serve his parents as a daughter-in-law. Although most Confucian scholars and government officials disapproved of widow suicide and chaste fiancées, they often expressed great admiration for the determination of particular women they knew, thus helping spread the custom.

At the same time that widow chastity was becoming more prevalent, more and more women were learning to read and write. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a surprising number had their poetry published. Women with poetic talents figure prominently in the great eighteenth-century novel, The Dream of Red Mansions (also called Story of the Stone). Although the male hero, Baoyu, is a young man of great sensitivity, several of his female cousins are even more talented as poets. Some women in this large fictional family have considerable power—especially the grandmother who can force her sons and nephews to do what she wants, and the daughter-in-law who handles the family’s finances. The young unmarried women, however, may have been able to acquire literary educations as good as the boys, but they had even less control over their fates than he had.

As in much of the rest of the world, in twentieth century China, intellectuals and social activists leveled many criticisms against the old family system and especially the ways it limited women’s chances. Foot binding, widow chastity, parental control of marriage, and concubinage have all been eliminated. It should always be kept in mind, however, that a great many women were able to fashion satisfying lives under the old system.


The Strange History of Masons in America

Often the subject of conspiracy theories, Masons captured the allegiance of much of the early American elite.

Take out a dollar bill (United States currency, that is). Look at the back. On the left side, granted as much space as the American eagle symbol on the right, is a seeing eye and a pyramid, placed there for no apparent reason. But for those in the know, the eye above the pyramid is a Masonic symbol, produced by a secret society which has influenced American history from its beginnings. In Masonic lore, the pyramid symbol is known as a sign of the eye of God watching over humanity.

The Masons have been both criticized and praised for their influential role in U.S. history.

George Washington reached the top level of the Masons on August 4, 1753, securing the leadership of the influential lodge in Alexandria, Virginia. Washington was not alone among the founding founders some scholars say as many as twenty-one signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons. Many historians note that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights both seem to be heavily influenced by the Masonic “civil religion,” which focuses on freedom, free enterprise, and a limited role for the state.

In Europe, the Masons were known for plotting against royal governments. In America, they became known for promoting Republican virtues of self-government.

Masonic thought influenced American history: the Masons were opposed to the claims of royalty—a strong influence on the development of the American revolt against Britain which culminated in the Revolutionary War. They were also known for their opposition to the Catholic Church, another international organization that competed for allegiance.

Today’s Masonic lodges in the U.S. have a largely benign public image, seen as a place for smalltown businessmen (the order is limited to men) to engage in social gatherings, networking, and opportunities for charity. But the group, with its secret symbols and handshakes, was not always so harmless.

The United States Masons (also known as Freemasons) originated in England and became a popular association for leading colonials after the first American lodge was founded in Boston in 1733. Masonic brothers pledged to support one another and provide sanctuary if needed. The fraternity embodied European Enlightenment ideals of liberty, autonomy, and God as envisioned by Deist philosophers as a Creator who largely left humanity alone.

Those theological views created friction with established Christian churches, particularly Catholics and Lutherans. While the Masons captured the allegiance of much of the early Republic’s elite, the group did fall under widespread suspicion. The William Morgan affair of 1826—when a former Mason broke ranks and promised to expose the group’s secrets—threatened its demise. Morgan was allegedly abducted and presumed killed by Masons, and the scandal proved a low point in the public image of the fraternal order.

The anti-Mason backlash grew. Abolitionists like John Brown railed against the often pro-slavery Masons. Prominent figures including John Quincy Adams, a former president and former Mason, and publisher Horace Greeley joined in the widespread castigation. Future president Millard Fillmore called Masonic orders nothing better than “organized treason.” In 1832, an anti-Masonic party ran a one-issue candidate for president. He captured Vermont’s electoral votes.

American Masons were not above engaging in controversial foreign adventures. In 1850 a contingent of American Masons and Mexican War veterans invaded Cuba to foment a rebellion against the Spanish crown. The group failed to gain a foothold and retreated after suffering heavy casualties. Its leaders were later tried in New Orleans for violating U.S. neutrality laws.

The group’s long-term fraternalism and secrecy has traditionally served as a vehicle of exclusion, not inclusion. Today, its reputation is buttressed by an affilation with the Shriners, a related fraternal group noted for its charity and health work. The Masons’ revolutionary and sometimes violent past now serves as a kind of historic footnote as the order established itself as a placid participant in the American social fabric. Even with its controversial past, it’s hard to imagine the Masonic order serving as a contemporary hotbed of violent insurrection.


How strong is the current theory of the beginnings of Chinese writing? - History

Your thesis statement is one of the most important parts of your paper. It expresses your main argument succinctly and explains why your argument is historically significant. Think of your thesis as a promise you make to your reader about what your paper will argue. Then, spend the rest of your paper--each body paragraph--fulfilling that promise.

Your thesis should be between one and three sentences long and is placed at the end of your introduction. Just because the thesis comes towards the beginning of your paper does not mean you can write it first and then forget about it. View your thesis as a work in progress while you write your paper. Once you are satisfied with the overall argument your paper makes, go back to your thesis and see if it captures what you have argued. If it does not, then revise it. Crafting a good thesis is one of the most challenging parts of the writing process, so do not expect to perfect it on the first few tries. Successful writers revise their thesis statements again and again.

A successful thesis statement:

- makes an historical argument

- takes a position that requires defending

- answers the question, "so what?"

How to write a thesis statement:

Suppose you are taking an early American history class and your professor has distributed the following essay prompt:

"Historians have debated the American Revolution's effect on women. Some argue that the Revolution had a positive effect because it increased women's authority in the family. Others argue that it had a negative effect because it excluded women from politics. Still others argue that the Revolution changed very little for women, as they remained ensconced in the home. Write a paper in which you pose your own answer to the question of whether the American Revolution had a positive, negative, or limited effect on women."

Using this prompt, we will look at both weak and strong thesis statements to see how successful thesis statements work.

1. A successful thesis statement makes an historical argument. It does not announce the topic of your paper or simply restate the paper prompt.

Weak Thesis: The Revolution had little effect on women because they remained ensconced in the home.

While this thesis does take a position, it is problematic because it simply restates the prompt. It needs to be more specific about how the Revolution had a limited effect on women and why it mattered that women remained in the home.

Revised Thesis: The Revolution wrought little political change in the lives of women because they did not gain the right to vote or run for office. Instead, women remained firmly in the home, just as they had before the war, making their day-to-day lives look much the same.

This revision is an improvement over the first attempt because it states what standards the writer is using to measure change (the right to vote and run for office) and it shows why women remaining in the home serves as evidence of limited change (because their day-to-day lives looked the same before and after the war). However, it still relies too heavily on the information given in the prompt, simply saying that women remained in the home. It needs to make an argument about some element of the war's limited effect on women. This thesis requires further revision.

Strong Thesis: While the Revolution presented women unprecedented opportunities to participate in protest movements and manage their family's farms and businesses, it ultimately did not offer lasting political change, excluding women from the right to vote and serve in office.

This is a stronger thesis because it complicates the information in the prompt. The writer admits that the Revolution gave women important new opportunities, but argues that, in the end, it led to no substantial change. This thesis recognizes the complexity of the issue, conceding that the Revolution had both positive and negative effects for women, but that the latter outweighed the former. Remember that it will take several rounds of revision to craft a strong thesis, so keep revising until your thesis articulates a thoughtful and compelling argument.

2. A succesful thesis statement takes a position that requires defending. Your argument should not be an obvious or irrefutable assertion. Rather, make a claim that requires supporting evidence.

Weak Thesis: The Revolutionary War caused great upheaval in the lives of American women.

Few would argue with the idea that war brings upheaval. Your thesis needs to be debatable: it needs to make a claim against which someone could argue. Your job throughout the paper is to provide evidence in support of your own case. Here is a revised version:

Strong Thesis: The Revolution caused particular upheaval in the lives of women. With men away at war, women took on full responsibility for running households, farms, and businesses. As a result of their increased involvement during the war, many women were reluctant to give up their new-found responsibilities after the fighting ended.

This is a stronger thesis because it says exactly what kind of upheaval the war wrought, and it makes a debatable claim. For example, a counterargument might be that most women were eager to return to the way life was before the war and thus did not try to usurp men's role on the home front. Or, someone could argue that women were already active in running households, farms, and businesses before the war, and thus the war did not mark a significant departure. Any compelling thesis will have counterarguments. Writers try to show that their arguments are stronger than the counterarguments that could be leveled against them.

3. A successful thesis statement is historically specific. It does not make a broad claim about "American society" or "humankind," but is grounded in a particular historical moment.

Weak Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the prevailing problem of sexism.

Sexism is a vague word that can mean different things in different times and places. In order to answer the question and make a compelling argument, this thesis needs to explain exactly what attitudes toward women were in early America, and how those attitudes negatively affected women in the Revolutionary period.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a negative impact on women because of the belief that women lacked the rational faculties of men. In a nation that was to be guided by reasonable republican citizens, women were imagined to have no place in politics and were thus firmly relegated to the home.

This thesis is stronger because it narrows in on one particular and historically specific attitude towards women: the assumption that women had less ability to reason than men. While such attitudes toward women have a long history, this thesis must locate it in a very specific historical moment, to show exactly how it worked in revolutionary America.

4. A successful thesis statement is focused and precise. You need to be able to support it within the bounds of your paper.

Weak Thesis: The Revolution led to social, political, and economic change for women.

This thesis addresses too large of a topic for an undergraduate paper. The terms "social," "political," and "economic" are too broad and vague for the writer to analyze them thoroughly in a limited number of pages. The thesis might focus on one of those concepts, or it might narrow the emphasis to some specific features of social, political, and economic change.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution paved the way for important political changes for women. As "Republican Mothers," women contributed to the polity by raising future citizens and nurturing virtuous husbands. Consequently, women played a far more important role in the new nation's politics than they had under British rule.

This thesis is stronger because it is more narrow, and thus allows the writer to offer more in-depth analysis. It states what kind of change women expected (political), how they experienced that change (through Republican Motherhood), and what the effects were (indirect access to the polity of the new nation).

5. A successful thesis statement answers the question, "so what?" It explains to your reader why your argument is historically significant. It is not a list of ideas you will cover in your paper it explains why your ideas matter.

Weak Thesis: The Revolution had a positive effect on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity.

This thesis is off to a strong start, but it needs to go one step further by telling the reader why changes in these three areas mattered. How did the lives of women improve because of developments in education, law, and economics? What were women able to do with these advantages? Obviously the rest of the paper will answer these questions, but the thesis statement needs to give some indication of why these particular changes mattered.

Strong Thesis: The Revolution had a positive impact on women because it ushered in improvements in female education, legal standing, and economic opportunity. Progress in these three areas gave women the tools they needed to carve out lives beyond the home, laying the foundation for the cohesive feminist movement that would emerge in the mid-nineteenth century.

This is a stronger thesis because it goes beyond offering a list of changes for women, suggesting why improvements in education, the law, and economics mattered. It outlines the historical significance of these changes: they helped women build a cohesive feminist movement in the nineteenth century.


How strong is the current theory of the beginnings of Chinese writing? - History

Primitive man and fitness (pre-10,000 B.C)
Primitive nomadic lifestyles required the continual task of hunting and gathering food for survival (1). Tribes commonly went on one- or two- day hunting journeys for food and water. Regular physical activity apart from that necessary for hunting and gathering was also a principal component of life. Following successful hunting and gathering excursions, celebration events included trips of six to 20 miles to neighboring tribes to visit friends and family, where dancing and cultural games could often last several hours. This Paleolithic pattern of subsistence pursuit and celebration, demanding a high level of fitness and consisting of various forms of physical activity, defined human life (2).

The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution (10,000-8,000 B.C.)
The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution marked the conclusion of primitive lifestyle and signified the dawn of civilization. This historic period was defined by important agricultural developments including animal and plant domestication, and the invention of the plow. These human advancements made it possible for hunting-gathering tribes to obtain vast amounts of food while remaining in the same area, thus transforming primitive man into an agrarian (agriculture and farming) society (3). This era in history symbolizes the beginning of a more sedentary lifestyle, as man began to alleviate some hardships of life while. simultaneously decreasing daily physical activity.
Ancient civilizations - China and India (2500-250 B.C.)
China
In China, the philosophical teachings of Confucius encouraged participation in regular physical activity (4). It was recognized that physical inactivity was associated with certain diseases (referred to as organ malfunctions and internal stoppages, which sound similar to heart disease and diabetes) were preventable with regular exercise for fitness. Consequently, Cong Fu gymnastics was developed to keep the body in good, working condition. Cong Fu exercise programs consisted of various stances and movements, characterized by separate foot positions and imitations of different animal fighting styles (5). In addition to Cong Fu gymnastics, other forms of physical activity existed throughout ancient China including archery, badminton, dancing, fencing, and wrestling.

India
In India, individual pursuit of fitness was discouraged as the religious beliefs of Buddhism and Hinduism emphasized spirituality and tended to neglect development of the body. Consequently, the importance of fitness within society in general was relatively low. However, an exercise program similar to Chinese Cong Fu gymnastics developed, while still conforming to religious beliefs, known as Yoga. Though its exact origin has yet to be identified, Yoga has existed for at least the past 5000 years. Translated, Yoga means union, and refers to one of the classic systems of Hindu philosophy that strives to bring together and personally develop the body, mind, and spirit. Yoga was originally developed by Hindu priests who lived frugal lifestyles characterized by discipline and meditation. Through observing and mimicking the movement and patterns of animals, priests hoped to achieve the same balance with nature that animals seemed to possess. This aspect of Yoga, known as Hatha Yoga, is the form with which Westerners are most familiar and is defined by a series of exercises in physical posture and breathing patterns (5). Bedsides balance with nature, ancient Indian philosophers recognized health benefits of Yoga including proper organ functioning and whole well-being. These health benefits have also been acknowledged in the modern-day United States, with an estimated 12 million individuals regularly participating in Yoga.

The Near East (4000-250 B.C.)
Early political and military leaders within the civilizations of Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Palestine, Persia, and Syria, realizing the importance of fitness to the efficiency and performance of military forces, encouraged fitness throughout society (6). Perhaps the best example of a civilization utilizing fitness for political and military purposes is the Persian Empire. Persian leaders demanded strict physical fitness from its people, which was accomplished through the implementation of rigid training programs. At the age of six, boys became property of the Empire and underwent training which included hunting, marching, riding, and javelin throwing. Fitness training to improve strength and stamina was not intended for health benefits, but rather to create more able soldiers to help expand the Empire (5). The Persian Empire during its height, with its policy and emphasis on high fitness, eventually encompassed all of the Near East. However, emphasis on fitness levels throughout the Persian civilization decreased as affluence and corruption entangled political and military leaders. The downfall and collapse of the Persian Empire occurred at a time when society could largely be characterized by an overall lack of fitness.

Ancient Greek Civilization (2500-200 B.C.)
Athens
Perhaps no other civilization has held fitness in such high regard as ancient Greece. The idealism of physical perfection was one that embodied ancient Greek civilization. The appreciation for beauty of the body and importance of health and fitness throughout society is one that is unparalleled in history. The Greeks believed development of the body was equally as important as development of the mind. Physical well-being was necessary for mental well-being, with the need for a strong, healthy body to harbor a sound mind. Many founding medical practitioners facilitated the growth of fitness throughout ancient Greece, including the likes of Herodicus, Hippocrates, and Galen (7).

Gymnastics, along with music, was considered to be the most important classroom topic. A common saying in ancient Greek times was "exercise for the body and music for the soul (5) ". Gymnastics took place in palaestras, which were sites of physical education for young boys. The palaestra consisted of an indoor facility for gymnastics, in addition to an outdoor area for running, jumping, and wrestling. When adulthood was reached, typically between the ages of 14 and 16, the site for fitness training switched from palaestras to gymnasiums (8). Exercise in the palaestra and gymnasium was supervised by the paidotribe, who is similar to the modern fitness trainer. This idealistic fitness situation existed most strongly within Athens, which has been characterized as a democratic society most similar to the United States.
Sparta
The Spartans of Northern Greece valued fitness even more than the Athenians. However, the heightened interest in fitness within Spartan culture was primarily for military purposes. During this era, Greek states were frequently at war with each other. Fighting skills were highly correlated with physical fitness levels, making it imperative for individuals to maintain high fitness levels. Spartan society required males to enter special fitness programs at the age of six. From this point until adulthood, the government was responsible for the child’s upbringing and training. This upbringing consisted of rigorous training programs that ensured all boys would grow into highly fit adult soldiers. Females were also required to maintain good physical condition for the purpose of being able to have strong offspring who could serve the state (9). The military-dominated culture of Sparta resulted in one of the most physically fit societies in the history of mankind.

Roman Civilization (200 B.C.-476 A.D.)
The Roman Empire was the antithesis of the ancient Greek civilization with the overall physical fitness condition of the Roman civilization highest during its time of conquest and expansion. During this period, all Roman citizens between the ages of 17 and 60 were eligible for the military draft. Therefore, it was imperative for all citizens to maintain good physical condition and be prepared for service. Military training consisted of activities such as running, marching, jumping, and discus and javelin throwing (10). This lifestyle resulted in strong, fit people who conquered nearly all of the Western World. However, the fitness levels of the general Roman population declined as individuals became enamored with wealth and entertainment, such as the gladiator battles. Materialistic acquisition and excess became higher priorities than physical condition. The lavish lifestyle and physical decay eventually took its toll as the Roman civilization fell to the physically superior Barbarian tribes from Northern Europe (11).

The Dark (476-1000) and Middle Ages (900-1400)
The crumbling of the Roman Empire, which was conquered by Barbarians from Northern Europe, symbolized the beginning of a millennium of intellectual standstill. However, these occurrences were beneficial with respect to fitness. The lavish lifestyles of the Romans had resulted in the complete deterioration of the society's fitness level. The barbaric tribes from Northern Europe possessed similar characteristics to primitive people. Their lifestyle consisted of hunting and gathering food, and tending to cattle (12). Physical activity and fitness were prerequisites for survival. Therefore, despite the cultural setbacks that occurred with the fall of the Roman Empire, fitness experienced a revival during the Dark and Middle Ages.

The Renaissance (1400-1600)
Following the Dark and Middle Ages, the rebirth of cultural learning from the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations gave rise to the Renaissance. Accompanying this time period was a renewed interest in the human body. Once again, the ancient Greek ideals, which glorified the human body, gained widespread acceptance. Many individuals, including Martin Luther (religious leader), John Locke (philosopher), Vittorino da Feltra, John Comenius, and Richard Mulcaster (physical educators) maintained that high fitness levels enhanced intellectual learning (13, 14).

Civilizations that recognized the importance of fitness needed an avenue to convey this knowledge to their people. Therefore, fitness and physical education share a common bond. Physical education became the tool used to spread the value and benefits of fitness throughout society. School programs, primarily in ancient Greece, had previously recognized the necessity for curriculums involving physical education. The renewed appreciation for human life, which evolved during the Renaissance, created an environment which was ready for the widespread development of physical education throughout Europe.

National Period in Europe (1700-1850)
Continental Europe underwent numerous cultural changes following the Renaissance. Fitness remained important and continued to follow trends initiated during the Renaissance. Physical education programs expanded within emerging nations of Europe. Intense feelings for nationalism and independence created the atmosphere for the first modern fitness movement, which came in the form of gymnastics programs. Gymnastics enjoyed immense popularity during this era, becoming especially prevalent in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Great Britain.
Germany
The growth of gymnastics in Germany can be primarily attributed to the work of two physical educators: Johann Guts Muths and Friedrich Jahn. Guts Muths is generally referred to as the "Grandfather of German Gymnastics." He invented numerous exercise programs and the equipment upon which they were performed. His lifetime works and achievements are found in two books - Gymnastics for the Young and Games.
Friedrich Jahn earned the title of "Father of German Gymnastics" for his long-lived work. It was early during Jahn's lifetime that Napoleon conquered much of Europe, including Germany. With its downfall to France, Germany was subsequently divided into separate states. Jahn's passion for German nationalism and independence became the driving force behind his creation of gymnastic programs. He believed future susceptibility to foreign invasion could be prevented through physical development of the German people. Shortly thereafter, exercise facilities that housed apparatuses designed for running, jumping, balancing, climbing, and vaulting called Turnvereins developed throughout Germany (4).
Sweden
Per Henrik Ling developed and introduced his own gymnastics program to Sweden which consisted of three different areas: 1) educational gymnastics, 2) military gymnastics, and 3) medical gymnastics. Ling, who had a strong medical background, recognized that exercise was necessary for all persons. He maintained that exercise programs should be devised based on individual differences. Ling also believed physical educators must possess knowledge of the effects of exercise on the human body. Ling used science and physiology to better understand the importance of fitness (4).
Denmark
Frank Nachtegall, who initially started teaching out of his home, introduced and helped popularize gymnastic programs throughout Denmark. He was especially concerned with development of gymnastic programs within school systems. Childhood interest in physical activity sparked Nachtegall’s fascination with fitness. Eventually he taught in a private facility, which was devoted entirely to physical training and later became director of a program designed to prepare future fitness instructors called Training Teachers of Gymnastics (4).
England
Within Great Britain, medical student Archibald Maclaren spread the word on the benefits of fitness and regular exercise. Marclaren, like Per Henrik Ling of Sweden, was fascinated in the scientific components of fitness. His lifetime works in these areas are recorded in National Systems of Bodily Exercise and Training in Theory and Practice. Marclaren made several observations based on his work, which are remarkably similar to present-day exercise recommendations. Firstly, Marclaren believed the cure for weariness and stress was physical action. Secondly, he noted recreational exercise found in games and sport was not sufficient for attaining adequate fitness levels. Finally, Marclaren realized both growing boys and girls required regular physical exercise. In agreement with Ling, Marclaren also recognized the need for individual variation in fitness training programs. Furthermore, he documented the importance of progression of exercise (15).

America – Colonial Period (1700-1776)
Hardships of colonial life ensured that regular physical activity continued to be a lifestyle priority, however during this period no organized exercise or fitness programs existed. Colonial America remained an undeveloped country characterized by much unexplored land and wilderness. Lifestyles during this era consisted largely of plowing the land for crops, hunting for food, and herding cattle (16). This lifestyle provided sufficient levels of physical activity with no additional need or demand for exercise to maintain fitness levels.

United States - National Period (1776 to 1860)
Fitness in the United States during the National Period was influenced by European cultures. Immigrants brought many aspects of their heritage to the United States, including German and Swedish gymnastics. Constant threats to independence and nationalism from foreign invasion were dynamics prevalent in Europe and not the United States. German and Swedish gymnastic programs failed to attain the same levels of popularity as in Europe (9).
However, early leaders in the United States were conscious of the need for exercise and fitness. Benjamin Franklin recommended regular physical activity, including running, swimming, and basic forms of resistance training for health purposes (17). President Thomas Jefferson acknowledged the necessity for fitness, although maybe to a somewhat extreme measure: “Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather shall be little regarded. If the body is feeble, the mind will not be strong" (18).
Early Physical Education in the United States
Within Europe, schools had been an important medium for spreading the need for fitness to society through physical education programs. However, in the United States, the educational process focused primarily on intellectual matters. Schools concentrated on teaching traditional subjects including reading, writing, and arithmetic. Physical education remained missing from the public education system for the better part of the nineteenth century (15). Despite the relative lack of interest in fitness existing during this era, J.C. Warren and Catherine Beecher made significant contributions to the future of fitness in America.
Dr. J.C. Warren, a medical professor at Harvard University, was a major proponent of physical activity. Warren’s medical background gave him a clear understanding of the necessity for regular exercise, with his recommendations including exercises such as gymnastics and calisthenics. Furthermore, Warren began devising exercises for females (5). Catherine Beecher specifically devised fitness programs to meet the needs of women. Among her many different programs was a system of calisthenics performed to music (9). Though not formally recognized in name, Beecher's programs of the mid-nineteenth century bear remarkable similarities to modern-day aerobics.

United States – post-Civil War (1865-1900)
One of the most important events with respect to modern fitness in the United States was the Industrial Revolution, which resulted in widespread cultural changes throughout the country. Advancement in industrial and mechanical technologies replaced labor-intensive jobs. Rural life changed to an urban lifestyle. The new city life generally required less movement and work compared to rural life, consequently decreasing levels of physical activity.
At the turn of the century, the most common causes of death were from influenza, polio, rubella, and other infectious diseases. Risk of disease and mortality from infectious diseases were alleviated with the discovery of Penicillin. The cost of industrialization and urbanization became glaringly apparent starting in the 1950s and 1960s. An epidemic of hypokinetic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Type II diabetes, never before prevalent, began to be recognized as the leading causes of disease and death (19). The lifestyle improvements brought in part by the Industrial Revolution had apparently come with an unwanted and alarming cost to health.
Physical Education
Following the end of the Civil War in 1865, Swedish and German Gymnastics enjoyed a moderate growth in popularity. However, the most popular form of gymnastics during this time period was “The New Gymnastics,” introduced by Dioclesian Lewis (20). Individuals who played important roles in the development of fitness during this time period were Edward Hitchcock, William Anderson, and Dudley Sargent.
Hitchcock recognized the desired outcome of his fitness programs (combination of gymnastics and calisthenics) was improved health. He also introduced the concept of utilizing anthropometric measurements to assess fitness progress. Sargent added scientific research to fitness instruction and developed organized instructor teaching methodologies. The lifetime work of Anderson focused on physical education instruction, with his greatest contribution being its development into a professional organization (5,9,20).
An interesting argument developed during the post-Civil War period that still exists today. Many physical education instructors believed firmly in the value of incorporating exercise programs that would improve health-related fitness. However, sports were also gaining popularity in the United States during this era. Consequently, the majority of physical education programs focused on sports and games. The debate between health-related fitness and skill-related fitness physical education programs continues to exist (9).

The 20th Century
The 20th century symbolized the beginning of a new era of fitness leaders: the Presidents of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt, perhaps the most physically fit President to occupy the oval office, also led the nation into the new century. He recognized the importance of exercise and physical activity, and had the power to encourage the citizens of America to be physically active. President Roosevelt held an infatuation for fitness similar to the ideology of ancient Greece. His desire for physical fitness evolved out of his childhood battle with asthma, which he overcame with a rigorous exercise program. As President, he engaged in multiple forms of physical activity including hiking, horseback riding, and other outdoor endeavors. Although not all the presidents following Roosevelt have held fitness in the same high regard, they recognized that the position required a commitment to the fitness of the citizens of the United States (17).
World War I
In Europe, the First World War started in August of 1914, with the entrance of the United States occurring three years later in 1917. With the United States' entry into the battle, hundreds of thousands of military personnel were drafted and trained for combat. After the war was fought and won, statistics were released from the draft with disturbing data regarding fitness levels. It was found that one out of every three drafted individuals was unfit for combat and many of those drafted were highly unfit prior to military training (5,9). Government legislation was passed that ordered the improvement of physical education programs within the public schools. However, the heightened interest and concern for low fitness levels would be short-lived as the United States entered the 1920s and the Depression.

The Roaring Twenties and Great Depression
Heightened interest in fitness dissipated throughout the decade. A pattern that had been familiar throughout history is that after a war is fought and won, the tendency is for society to relax, enjoy life, and exercise less. The Roaring Twenties earned the label for a reason, as society lived more frivolously than at any other time in history. Priorities centered on eating, drinking, partying, and other forms of entertainment (21).
In October of 1929, the stock market crashed, signaling the beginning of what would be a decade of economic depression. The economy failed to recover until the United States entered World War II in 1941. Along with many other aspects of life, fitness levels declined during the Depression. The gains that physical education programs made through the passage of legislation following the WW I were short-lived. Funding for these programs became limited and eventually was exhausted as emphasis in the poor economy was forced to shift elsewhere (15,20).
Despite the setbacks which fitness suffered during the Great Depression, Jack LaLanne, who would eventually be recognized as a guiding pioneer of fitness, began his lifetime career as a media fitness instructor. Throughout his life, LaLanne preached the value of preventive lifestyle habits. In the 1950s, The Jack LaLanne Show began airing on television, preceding the appearance of Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda by 25 years. LaLanne developed fitness programs including aerobics, water aerobics, and resistance exercise. He also introduced numerous pieces of exercise equipment including the first cable-pulley machine, the safety system for doing squats called the Smith machine, and the first leg extension machine. Although LaLanne is often referred to as the originator of the "jumping jack movement", history suggests the real inventor was John “Black Jack” Pershing, a tactical officer from West Point in World War I. Though LaLanne preceded the modern fitness movement by some three decades, his fitness ideology and exercise programs were correct in approach when judged by modern research.

World War II
Throughout world history, military conflicts have had major impacts on the state of fitness. The Second World War and its aftermath in the United States would be no different. Essentially, the modern fitness movement evolved out of the influence of World War II and subsequent development of the Cold War.
The United States entered World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. With the declaration of war came the necessity to draft military personnel. However, as more men were drafted, it became embarrassingly clear that many of them were not fit for combat. When the war was over, it was reported that nearly half of all draftees needed to be rejected or were given non-combat positions (20). These disturbing statistics helped gain the attention of the country with regards to the importance of fitness.
Important contributions to fitness came during the 1940s, specifically from Dr. Thomas K. Cureton at the University of Illinois. Cureton introduced the application of research to fitness, which improved exercise recommendations to individuals. Cureton not only recognized the numerous benefits of regular exercise, he strived to expand the body of knowledge regarding physical fitness. He wanted to answer questions such as how much exercise was healthy and what types of exercise were most effective. More importantly, Cureton wanted to know how physical fitness could best be measured within an individual. Among his most important contributions were developing fitness tests for cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility. His research resulted in multiple recommendations for the improvement of cardiorespiratory fitness, including the identification of exercise intensity guidelines necessary for improved fitness levels. His suggestions became the fundamental basis behind future exercise programs (23).
1950s - United States
The Cold War, Baby Boomer era was marked by the development of an important factor influencing the modern fitness movement known as the "Minimum Muscular Fitness Tests in Children" by Kraus-Hirschland (24). This study utilized the Kraus-Weber tests to measure muscular strength and flexibility in the trunk and leg muscles. It was reported that close to 60 percent of American children failed at least one of the tests. In comparison, only nine percent of children from European countries failed one of the tests. During the Cold War, these startling numbers launched political leaders into action to promote health and fitness.
When results of the Kraus-Hirschland studies were reported to President Eisenhower by Senators James Kelly and James Duff, he responded by holding a White House Conference in June of 1956. Out of these meetings came two important results: 1) the formation of the President's Council on Youth Fitness and 2) the appointment of the President's Citizens Advisory Committee on the Fitness of American Youth (25). This was an important first step in helping to gain the nation’s attention concerning her fitness levels.
During the 1950s, numerous organizations took initiative in educating the general public about the consequences of low fitness levels. Several agencies that have been involved in fitness promotion since the mid-1950s include the American Health Association (AHA), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Association for Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAPHERD), and the President's Council on Youth Fitness (9). These organizations would provide merit and legitimacy to the coming fitness movement.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) was formed in 1954, and has proved to be one of the premier organizations in the promotion of health and fitness to American society and worldwide. Throughout its history, ACSM has established position stands on various exercise-related issues based on scientific research.
1960s - United States
President John F. Kennedy was a major proponent of fitness and its health-related benefits to the American people. He furthered the development of the Presidents Council on Youth Fitness, appointing Bud Wilkinson as head of the council. The name was also changed to the President's Council on Physical Fitness. Kennedy spoke openly about the need for American citizens to improve their fitness levels, including writing an article in Sports Illustrated entitled "The Soft American." He said, "We are under-exercised as a nation we look instead of play we ride instead of walk" (27). Kennedy prompted the federal government to become more involved in national fitness promotion and started youth pilot fitness programs. Kennedy's commitment to fitness can best be summarized when he said, "Physical fitness is the basis for all other forms of excellence." (28)
Dr. Ken H. Cooper, widely recognized as "The Father of the Modern Fitness Movement", is generally credited with encouraging more individuals to exercise than any other individual in history. Cooper advocated a philosophy that shifted away from disease treatment to one of disease prevention. "It is easier to maintain good health through proper exercise, diet, and emotional balance than it is to regain it once it is lost" he said. Early in his career, Cooper stressed the necessity for providing epidemiological data to support the benefits of regular exercise and health. Data from thousands of individuals became the foundation for his aerobic concepts. Aerobics, released in 1968, sent a powerful message to the American people - to prevent the development of chronic diseases, exercise regularly and maintain high fitness levels throughout life (29). Dr. Cooper’s message, programs and ideas established the model from which fitness has proliferated up to modern time.

Lessons From History
The history of fitness portrays some fascinating themes that relate closely to the 21st century. One commonality is the strong association of military and political might with physical fitness throughout mankind’s advancement. In many ways, this shows how impacting our world leaders can be on health and fitness.
The mind-body concept has had a tenuous development. At times, some cultures prescribed spirituality at the expense of the body where as others, such as Greek society, upheld the ideal a sound mind can only be found in a healthy body.
Another interesting development from history is the concept of exercise for the body and music for the soul. Present day fitness programs have evolved this concept harmoniously, with music being a distinctive component to the exercise experience.
It appears that as societies become too enamored with wealth, prosperity and self-entertatinment that fitness levels drop. In addition, as technology has advanced with man, the levels of physical fitness have decreased. History offers little insight how to prevent or turnaround these recourses. Thus, this is a resolution we are challenged with in today’s society. Perhaps utilizing all of the extensive research completed on health and fitness in combination with the creative minds now in the fitness industry, we now can solve this part of the fitness puzzle.


1. Anderson, J.K. (1985). Hunting in the Ancient World. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

2. Eaton, S.B., Shostak, M., and Konner, M. (1988). The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet and Exercise and a Design for Living. New York: Harper and Row.

3. Garnsey, P. (1999). Food and Society in Classical Antiquity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

4. Matthews, D.O. (1969). A Historical Study of the Aims, Contents, and Methods of Swedish, Danish, and German Gymnastics. Proceedings National College Physical Education Association for Men. 72nd, January.

5. Wuest, D.A., and Bucher, C.A. (1995). Foundations of Physical Education and Sport. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

6. Green, P. (1989). Classical Bearings: Interpreting Ancient History and Culture. London: Thames and Hudson.

7. Grant, M. (1991). A Short History of Classical Civilization. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

8. Forbes, C.A. (1929). Greek Physical Education. New York: The Century Company.

9. Barrow, H.M. and Brown, J.P. (1988). Man and Movement: Principles of Physical Education. 4th Ed. Philadelphia Lea & Febiger.

10. Grant, M. (1964). The Birth of Western Civilization: Greece and Rome. New York: McGraw-Hill.


Keywords

International Relations (IR) as a discipline developed over the course of the twentieth century to predominantly focus on the concerns of powerful Western states and to elaborate conceptual frameworks that could be applied elsewhere. Footnote 1 One important critique of this Western-centric nature of IR is that it privileges Western thought over all other forms of thought and makes Western reason the sole criterion for ‘correct’ and ‘universal’ knowledge. Mainstream IR scholarship thus reflects the identity and interests of the West – specifically the Anglo-American world – by encouraging its scholars to exclude non-Western systems of thought and using its theoretical perspectives to justify and perpetuate Western hegemony. Footnote 2 The non-Western world's subjectivity is often missing or ignored. Hence, over the past two decades, there has been an emerging post-Western quest in IR that urges IR scholars to ‘re-world’ the subaltern voice. Footnote 3 One of the main goals of this quest has been to rediscover the lost historical and contemporary voices of the subalterns. More specifically, post-Western IR scholarship urges IR scholars to ‘re-world’ subaltern sites by examining how Western discourses on IR have been interpreted and appropriated on each particular site. The quest for post-Western IR accordingly attends predominantly to the rediscovering of agency at the subaltern site for adaptation, feedback, and reconstruction of the Western influence encountered. Footnote 4

A rising China has inspired great interest in the studies of International Relations from the Chinese perspective. Plural Chinese scholars in the People's Republic of China (PRC) have argued there should be a Chinese School of IR Theory, and there have been various attempts to establish the Chinese theory of International Relations over the past decades. Footnote 5 Despite different focuses on the methods, concepts, and approaches that characterise the Chinese School, all of them have tried to deperipheralise China in the world of theory. By incorporating China's historical experiences and ideas – derived from indigenous traditional philosophies and traditions – scholars attempt to understand, explain, and interpret world politics in a distinctively Chinese way. Nevertheless, the potential for a Chinese understanding of international relations is not taking a hold in the Republic of China (ROC, or Taiwan), which is also deeply influenced by traditional Chinese culture. Footnote 6 They remain far more receptive to Anglocentric/Western IR. Although there seems to be some efforts by Taiwanese scholars to go beyond Western approaches, Footnote 7 generally speaking, they have a relatively low voice throughout Taiwan's IR community. As Shih observed, ‘Taiwan's mainstream IR at all times mimics the development of American IR.’ Footnote 8

Why do the academic circles of PRC and Taiwan embark on these two completely different routes? To answer this question, it is necessary to look into how International Studies developed as a field of study in Modern China, including the Qing Dynasty, the Republic in Beijing and Nanjing, and contemporary China and Taiwan. Thus, this article aims to look to the Chinese site for an origin of non-Western sources upon which the site could improvise a composite and hybrid kind of global IR. It will explore how International Studies as a scientific discipline emerged and developed in modern China, against the background of a Sinocentric world order that had predominated in East Asia for a long time. Specifically, it will address the following questions. Firstly, how did the ideas of the ‘international’ travel to China, through what channels, and how were they initially received in China? Secondly, how did people, ideas, and institutions come together to form a distinct scientific discipline of International Studies in China? And finally, combining these two, what are the legacies of the development of the International Studies in PRC and Taiwan? By ‘International Studies’ as a scientific discipline I am referring to a field of study in which intellectuals and experts – practitioners, translators, historians, legal scholars, political theorists/scientists – are sustained by institutionalisation in their pursuit of systematic knowledge on world politics.

The traces of the development of the disciplinary institutionalisation and professional affiliation of their subjects in China resonate the call for better understanding as to how IR arrived and developed in the non-Western world. In IR historiography, Western-centric disciplinary narratives of IR cause a ‘selective amnesia about IR's past’. Footnote 9 For instance, the mainstream narrative of IR's disciplinary history completely evades the fact that some of the earliest debates in the nascent field of IR were not about idealism vis-à-vis realism but imperialism vis-à-vis internationalism they were not about ‘peace and war’ but ‘race and empire’. Footnote 10 They further noted that there is still very little knowledge about how IR arrived and developed in the non-Western world. Thus, one could say that the field of IR historiography today has yet to appreciate how key processes that shape the knowledge and practice of international relations elsewhere can tell us more about world politics as a whole.

The argument of this article is threefold. First, many ideas and theories had travelled to China before International Studies was recognised as a discipline. In the beginning, Chinese intellectuals did not recognise International Studies as a coherent discipline. The discipline relied heavily on historical, legal, and political studies and placed a heavy focus on the investigation of China's integration into the Westphalian system. As time went by, the discipline was gradually understood as an independent discipline. The transplanted ideas and theories represented various genealogical lines of discourses and they inevitably constitute the multiple origins of International Studies in China. Second, studies of International Relations were grounded in a problem-solving approach to various issues China was facing at various times in the course of modernisation. This approach is inherited from the Confucian ideal of statecraft pragmatism (jīngshì zhìyòng), which can be traced back to the Utilitarian School of Confucianism during the Song Dynasty (960–1279). Footnote 11 Scholars, thinkers, and practitioners under the Imperial Qing, Republican, and Communist regime all upheld the ideal of statecraft pragmatism. Footnote 12 As a scholar, their academic thinking was always inseparable from the current reality. To paraphrase Robert Cox's renowned statement – ‘International Studies as a field of study is always for someone and for some purpose’ – Chinese IR is always for the Chinese nation, state, and its regimes. As a result, International Studies as discipline aimed to theoretically and empirically understand international relations from the Chinese perspective. Third, this article will further suggest that the historical development of International Studies in China has a profound impact on the current IR scholarship in both the PRC and Taiwan, including the recent surge of the attempts to establish the Chinese School of IR Theory in China and the voluntary acceptance of Western IR in Taiwan.

In what follows, this article will first discuss the development of diplomatic thought in China in the late nineteenth century amid the collapse of Chinese traditional world order. Subsequently, it will explore how International Studies was developed in the fields of international jurisprudence, diplomatic history, and IR respectively. By way of conclusion, the article will suggest that there is still an indigenous Chinese site of agency with regards to developing IR and IR Theory despite the fact that in the course of the disciplinary institutionalisation Chinese scholars has largely absorbed Western IR. It is noted that my coverage of International Studies writings is not exhaustive, however, I have endeavoured to capture the overall tendency of the development of the discipline by focusing on a few key individuals and their works.


Cultural achievements

The visual arts of the Zhou dynasty reflect the diversity of the feudal states of which it was composed and into which it eventually broke up. The arts of the early Xi Zhou were essentially a continuation of those of the Shang dynasty. That was especially true of works in bronze, in which there was an accelerated deterioration of the variety of shapes, the decoration, and the craftsmanship of casting. It was not until the Dong Zhou and the classical age of Confucius and Laozi that unique local traditions became apparent. The range of applied decoration for the first time included pictorial subjects—for example, hunting scenes and chariots and horsemen.

As the empire was breaking up, arts and culture were flowering in the various component states, encouraged and stimulated by the highly localized interests that fed the impulse toward independence of the empire. The remains of many of the feudal capitals during the Zhou period have been uncovered and reveal great buildings with rammed-earth floors and walls. There were also two-story buildings and observation towers, and Laozi mentions a nine-story tower.

Although (with the exception of a few works on silk) no painting survives from the Zhou, written descriptions of paintings evidence their themes, including figures, portraits, and historic scenes. Lacquerware including gold and silver inlay became finely developed, and bronzework carried on from the great legacy of the Shang. Jade ornaments and objects were used lavishly for funerary and ritual purposes, and ornamental carvings reflected superb craftsmanship. Pottery continued Shang traditions and expanded greatly in variety of shapes and finishes during the Warring States period.

During the Zhou dynasty, China underwent quite dramatic changes. Iron, ox-drawn plows, crossbows, and horseback riding were all introduced large-scale irrigation and water-control projects were also instituted for the first time, greatly increasing the crop yield of the North China Plain. The communication system was also greatly improved through the construction of new roads and canals. Trade was increased, towns grew up, coinage was developed, chopsticks came into use, and the Chinese writing system was created out of its primitive beginnings in the Shang period.

There was also a great philosophical flowering: the schools of Confucianism, Daoism, and legalism developed in that period. Literature flourished with Confucius and other great Chinese philosophers. Later generations of Chinese have regularly studied the Zhou dynasty for information regarding the origin of their civilization.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy McKenna, Senior Editor.



Comments:

  1. Fauhn

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  2. Mikakasa

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  3. Dallas

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