Foundations of Eastern Civilization

Author(s): Craig G. Benjamin
Series: Great Courses
Genre: History
eAudio - unabridged
Audio (23.37 hours)
Product Number: Z100016747
Released: Oct 14, 2015
Business Term: Purchase
ISBN: #9781682764411
Narrator/s: Craig G. Benjamin
Please log in to view pricing


"So much of our historical knowledge is rooted in Western civilization, from the stories of ancient Greece and Rome to the intellectual developments of the Renaissance. But this history tells only part of the story of our global world. Eastern civilization has its own fascinating story, with consequences that matter deeply to our lives today. How did Eastern civilization-particularly that of China, Korea, Japan, and the nations of Southeast Asia-develop? What do we know about the history, politics, governments, art, science, and technology of these countries? And how does the story of Eastern civilization play out in today's world of business, politics, and international exchange? Foundations of Eastern Civilization takes you on a grand journey to explore the big accomplishments of Eastern civilization, from the material economy of day-to-day life to the political and religious philosophies that would bind these cultures together for thousands of years. Over the course of 48 ambitious lectures, Professor Craig G. Benjamin of Grand Valley State University introduces you to the many people, achievements, and ideas that came out of Eastern civilization and played a role in creating the modern world. In this course, you will travel across continents and over the ages to arrive at a full understanding of the Eastern world. See how climate and geography allowed powerful civilizations to emerge in certain regions. Discover the origins of the yin and yang cosmology, the Mandate of Heaven political philosophy, and Confucianism and Daoism. Trace the spread of ideas between East and West, especially along the Silk Roads. Explore the rise and fall of empires-some famous and others largely unknown. Survey the role of Eastern civilization in the 20th and 21st centuries, and see what the future may hold for the "Asian tiger" economies. "To truly understand the modern world, it is essential to know something about the many extraordinary contributions Eastern civilization has made," Professor Benjamin says. "Simply put, it is not enough to know just the 'Western' half of the story any more-both Eastern and Western are critical to understanding our present and our future." Foundations of Eastern Civilization offers you just that-the chance to fill in the other half of the story. You may be surprised to realize that all of us have been students of Eastern civilization, even if we have not been aware of it. Filled with captivating stories and surprising details, this course is an excellent overview of one of the most dynamic regions in the world. Immerse Yourself in a Rich Cultural History This course covers an impressive amount of ground, from the emergence of early cultures 10,000 years ago to the booming economies of the 21st century. China is at the hub of Eastern civilization, and when you complete this course, you'll come away with a comprehensive understanding of its intriguing history: Uncover the Xia dynasty, which was long thought to be legendary but for which there is now some archaeological evidence. Study the mysterious "oracle bones" and the development of Chinese writing in the Shang dynasty. Examine the development of different administrative structures, educational programs, and civil service exams. Delve into the remarkable agricultural and industrial revolutions that occurred during the Song dynasty. Learn about China's 19th-century difficulties, including opium wars, humiliating trade agreements with the British, peasant uprisings, and, eventually, the revolution that ended the dynastic system. Along the way, you'll meet some of the most extraordinary people in Chinese history: emperors and empresses, soldiers and envoys, administrative eunuchs, philosophers, and more. You'll also consider the myriad inventions and innovations that drove the Chinese economy-including gunpowder, paper, the porcelain industry, and paper money. While China is home to some of the great moments in world history, it is far from the only significant nation in the East. Professor Benjamin takes you on several extended forays to examine a wealth of other cultures: Discover the many dynasties of Korea, the "land of the morning calm." Explore the extraordinary history of Japan, including a deep examination into the era of medieval shoguns and samurai warriors. Find out about the Mongols, who had the largest continuous empire in world history. Venture into India to witness the rise of Buddhism and other Indus civilization religions. Witness the amazing spread of Islam throughout Southeast Asia, as well as the impact of Christian missionaries. Unpack many of the 20th century's most significant wars, including the Japanese aggression that culminated in World War II and the cold war conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Discover the Ancient Roots of Eastern Society What unifies the foundations of Eastern civilization? With all the many cultures and nations and peoples-some of whom are little known outside highly specialized circles-what can we say about these societies as a whole? By going back to the beginnings of Eastern civilization, Professor Benjamin shows you the groundwork for today's global village. You'll be surprised to find out just how far back some of the modern-day divides go. For instance, the conflicts between northern and southern Korea originated hundreds of years ago and have their roots in the peninsula's geography. Eastern civilization today is grounded in ancient history in a number of ways, one of the most interesting of which is the way Eastern nations think about human nature, government, and economics. Whereas the Western nations tend to take an individualist approach to society-with ideas originating in ancient Greece and Rome and expanded on during the Enlightenment-Eastern nations still tend to take a collectivist tack. This collectivist approach has its roots in the Warring States Era at the end of the Zhou dynasty, when philosophers reflected on human nature and the best way to organize society. Confucius and his followers created a model of ethical leadership based on education and moral behavior. Daoists withdrew from society and looked to harmony in the cosmos and the natural world. Legalists imposed gruesome punishments to enforce the rule of law. Each of these philosophies had different notions of human nature and laid out a different path to forming an orderly state. These philosophies provide an important foundation for Eastern thought, and their approaches to government are completely different from our conceptions in the West. Yet in today's interconnected world, it's more important than ever to understand the cultural foundations of countries with which we interact, do business, and negotiate global politics. Witness a Dynamic Cultural Exchange During the Han dynasty, the Silk Roads connected East and West and enabled a surprising amount of cross-cultural interaction and exchange. The West received goods and information from the East-including silk and spices-but the East also learned about the West, that other civilizations existed beyond the mountains, deserts, and nomadic tribes of Central Asia. Professor Benjamin takes you on a voyage along the Silk Roads and introduces you to many of the unsung heroes of history: The Xiongnu The Yuezhi The Kushans The Parthians The Mongols You'll also meet the Chinese ambassador Zhang Qian, whose breathtaking escapades blazed a trail for the Silk Roads. You'll travel the caravan routes, consider what it would have been like to stop at one of the many "caravanserai"-the inns where merchants would stop along the trade routes-and study the Kushan Empire, a little-known and little-studied "lost civilization" of important middlemen in what is now Afghanistan. In addition to the Silk Roads, you'll explore the vibrant cross-cultural exchange within the East itself. China heavily influenced Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia, yet these nations also evolved as independent, distinct cultures. How did these countries develop? What was their relationship to China? How did China influence them, and how did they influence China? Enjoy an Inside Look at a Fascinating Civilization Foundations of Eastern Civilization is a sweeping course, taking you across time and space. But after providing the broad strokes, Professor Benjamin zooms in on specifics to give you a flavor for the texture of daily life. You'll learn about massive building projects such as the Great Wall of China. You'll encounter the great art and architecture, the poetry and literature, and the many other artifacts from the East: Ancient burial tombs in China Chulmun pottery from ancient Korea Calligraphy, poetry, and novels from the great Tang dynasty The oldest surviving printed document in world history Famous Japanese novels Throughout all of these lectures, Professor Benjamin is a lively guide and a dazzling storyteller, taking you inside the great cities where riches abound-jewels, silks, and great works of art. He shares several stories from his visits to these locations, and many of his personal photographs add a charming touch to the course. Indeed, his enthusiasm for the subject and his remarkable style of lecturing will open up an entirely new world for you as he unfolds the story of Eastern civilization."

All formats/editions

Author(s): Craig G. Benjamin
Narrator(s): Craig G. Benjamin
Genre: History
Product Number GV0030
Released: Aug 31, 2015
Business Term: Purchase
ISBN: #9781490654324

Sign up for our email newsletter