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Religion and the Philosophy of Life$
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Gavin Flood

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198836124

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198836124.001.0001

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Earth under Heaven

Earth under Heaven

The Chinese Traditions

(p.175) 5 Earth under Heaven
Religion and the Philosophy of Life

Gavin Flood

Oxford University Press

China developed the notion of life as a sustaining power of living beings, but in contrast to India, did not pursue the idea of transcendence as its source. In contrast to any Gnostic view of flight to a higher reality that we find in India or Greece, China throughout its history has maintained a positive evaluation of life, placing human life within a cosmos. In particular, pre-modern Chinese civilization emphasized harmony in the relationship between heaven (tian), earth (di), and humanity (jen): there should be a ‘unity of heaven and humanity’. Heaven is the source of all things and generally, with some philosophical exceptions, humanity is thought to be perfectible. There is a continuity between the political and natural orders that the chapter examines.

Keywords:   China, qi, heaven, harmony, humanity

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