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Filial Piety in East Asia for AP World History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Apr 2

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Filial piety in East Asia is an illustrative example of the Developments in East Asia from 1200 to 1450 topic in Unit 1 of AP World History. You could reference this example on your AP World History test.



Confucius
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Filial piety, a concept at the very heart of East Asian societies, has shaped the social fabric of countries like China, Korea, and Japan for centuries. This principle, deeply rooted in Confucian philosophy, emphasizes respect, obedience, and care for one’s parents and ancestors, reflecting a broader commitment to family loyalty and social harmony. Understanding filial piety offers a window into the values and traditions that define East Asian cultures, illustrating how historical practices influence contemporary life.


Filial piety, or “xiao” in Chinese, traces its origins to Confucius (551-479 BCE), who placed family relationships at the center of moral and social order. Confucius argued that a harmonious society begins with the individual and their family, with filial piety serving as the foundation for ethical behavior. This idea was not only prevalent in ancient China but also spread to neighboring Korea and Japan, becoming integral to their social and moral systems.


In practice, filial piety has been expressed through various rituals and behaviors intended to show respect and care for the elderly. These include living with or near one’s parents in their old age, contributing to their well-being, and performing ancestor worship ceremonies. Ancestor worship, in particular, is a vivid illustration of filial piety, involving rituals to honor deceased family members, thereby maintaining a spiritual connection across generations.


Historically, filial piety was also embedded in the education systems of East Asian countries. Texts teaching the virtues of xiao were standard reading for children, instilling the importance of family duties from a young age. Additionally, laws and policies often reinforced filial responsibilities, making the care of parents a legal obligation as much as a moral one.


Filial piety in East Asia served as a fundamental principle guiding familial and societal interactions. Its roots, deeply embedded in Confucian philosophy, nurtured a culture that venerated ancestors, respected elders, and adhered to a strict moral code emphasizing loyalty and duty within the family unit. Between 1200 and 1450, dynamic shifts in power and profound cultural developments took place in East Asia. Filial piety not only sustained social harmony but also shaped the ethical framework of nations. As governments evolved and societies transformed, the enduring essence of filial piety remained a constant, reflecting the timeless value of family and respect across generations in East Asia.

Printable Reading Passage on Filial Piety

Filial Piety in East Asia FREE Reading Passage



Do you want to watch a video about East Asia?



Developments in East Asia from 1200 to 1450


Unit 1:The Global Tapestry


AP World History


filial piety in East Asia for Developments in East Asia from 1200 to 1450 for AP World History

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Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

Apr 2

6

0

0

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