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1 Tracing the Origins of Chinese Intellectual History in the Three Dynasties (Ancient Times to ca. 6th Century bce)

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Chapter Summary

Chinese history has already gone through several thousand years, and that history has become a stack of books, a few oracle bone fragments, a few bronzes and scattered historical ruins. Chinese intellectual history was connected to "Heaven and Earth" from the very beginning. In various legends about the ancient Three Dynasties, after the Five Di came the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties. In Shang oracle bone inscriptions, Di eventually came to mean the God or spirit with the highest authority among the multitude of Gods and spirits. Besides Di, the Shang people also revered many other spirits. The second thing worthy of our attention in the oracle bone inscriptions is the unfolding of Shang ancestor worship and its conceptual systematization when combined with the power of the Shang kings. For a long time, intellectual historians believed that a fundamental change took place between the Shang and the Zhou.

Keywords: Chinese intellectual history; oracle bone inscriptions; Shang; Three Dynasties; Zhou



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