Development in the Western and the Chinese Civilization

Name 7

Developmentin the Western and the Chinese Civilization

Civilizationis a long-term process that may take centuries before noticeablechanges can be achieved in economic, political, and cultural aspects.The transformation was achieved in the Western World in differentepisodes, including the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Reformation,scientific, and industrial revolution (Madsen 3). Each of theepisodes made a significant impact on the cultural, economic,political, and social systems. Similarly, China has undergone therevolution for many centuries. The idea of whether developments inthe western and Chinese civilization are parallel or not has been acontroversial issue. The discussion provided in this paper will showthat western development and the Chinese civilization are notparallel.

Roleof science in Western and the Chinese civilization

Sciencehas contributed towards the development of the western world and theChinese civilization. The role of science in human civilization is toprovide practical skills and techniques that can be used to addresschallenges that members of the society face. In the case of China,scientific development in the ancient days was observed in the fieldof medicine. For example, the Chinese people had made the firstwriting in the field of medicine, developed herbal, and acupuncturemedicine by eleventh century B.C.E. (Hu 2). The art of writing, whichwas discovered in the mid-twentieth century, indicated that theChinese people had discovered cure for about 52 diseases. Inaddition, mechanical engineers (such as Ma Jun) were able to enhancethe design of ancient silk rooms and develop a chain of irrigationpumps that allowed farmers to grow crops throughout the year by 265C.E (Hu 2).

Similarly,the western development has been based on scientific discoveries. Thedevelopment of science in the western world began in Greece, whereThales of Miletus is recognized as the father of the field ofscience. The western people had started engaging in seriousscientific research as early as 585 B.C., where the major areas ofinterest included the earth science, biology, biology, and zoology,among others. For example, the Greeks were the first people to changethe supernatural view of the universe to a human perspective (Hu 1).The subsequent developments (such as the industrial civilization)were based on the scientific and technological developments.

Therole of art in development

Thefield of art played a critical role in the civilization of the westand China. Art acts as a tool that is used by communities to preserveand share their beliefs, culture, values, and religious practiceswith the subsequent generations. Development of the Chinese art datesback to the Stone Age, which occurred around 10,000 B.C. The Chineseart include pottery, painting, sculpture, and decorative work. TheChinese culture has three major features that could be used toillustrate its difference from the western art. First, the art hasalways been full of Confucian aspects that guide the moral as well asthe social functions of human beings (Corcoran 3). Secondly, theChinese artists integrate spiritual, but not the religious aspects intheir art work. Themes that are based on traditions (such asmemorable and auspicious events) are considered to be inspirationaland noble compared to religious topics. Third, the Daoist aspectsthat focus on the relationship patterns of nature and humancoexistence with the nature are common in the Chinese art.

Developmentof art in the western world also began with pottery, painting,sculpture, and decorative art, but it has undergone a significantchange over the years. Artists in the West were more influenced byreligious aspects than in China. The visual art achieved asignificant development during the Iron and Paleolithic age (Corcoran3). In addition, the process and achievements in the development ofart are well documented compared to China. For example, literature inthe West documents art from the prehistoric work, followed by theancient classic, and ends with the modern art. Although art hasdeveloped at different rates, it is evident that it has played asignificant role in civilization that has been achieved in China andthe Western world.


Architectureis one of the major determinants of development and civilizationbecause it influences the ability of a given community to buildsustainable infrastructure. Both the West and China had their ownarchitectural styles that helped their ancient communities achieveinfrastructural and economic development. For example, the Chinesearchitecture has dominated the East Asia for several centuries. TheChinese architecture influenced the building styles in theneighboring countries, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam (Clark329). The building styles were also influenced by religion andpolitics. Commoners (including farmers, bureaucrats, and merchants)used a different pattern from the Emperor.

Westernarchitecture has undergone numerous developments, besides thedecorative features. During the ancient Greek civilization, peoplemade simple structures that comprised of vertical columns thatsupported horizontal beams. Significant developments were achievedwhen the Greece formalized decorative as well as structural featuresthat were classified into Doric, Ionic, and Corinthians (Clark 329).In addition, the discovery of the steel and the cast-ironconstruction gave the west a significant breakthrough in the area ofarchitecture. The introduction of new technology allowed the Westernarchitectures and constructors to build mega structures that othercivilizations could not achieve. Therefore, architectural developmenthas made a significant contribution in developments achieved in theWest and China. However, the major difference between China and theWest is that the Chinese architecture has undergone insignificantchanges.

Therole of literature in Western and the Chinese civilization

Literaturehas contributed towards the development of the west and civilizationin China by facilitating the processes of sharing and passinginformation from generation to another. In both cultures, literarywork is classified into poetry, scientific writing, religious work,philosophy, and fiction (Xu 42). The discovery of hieroglyphs duringthe Shang Dynasty (1700-1050 B.C.) was a significant breakthroughthat allowed the Chinese people to document their literary work andshare it with the subsequent generations. The introduction of othersystems (such as phonetic and ideographic Chinese characters),coupled with the Taoist and Confucian Classic writings helped theChinese preserve their knowledge, scientific discoveries, songs, andpoems, among other types of literary work. Literature in the west hasbeen preserved in different languages that are known as theIndo-European Family. Examples of the Indo-European Family languagesinclude the Baltic, Romance, Germanic, Greek, Slavic, and Latin (Xu42). The preservation of literature in different communitiesfacilitated civilization by helping the subsequent generations buildon the achievements that had been made in the past.

Developmentof philosophy in the west and China

Philosophyis a significant field of study that help the society addressproblems that are related to reason, existence, values, language, andknowledge. Philosophy contributes towards development andcivilization by facilitating critical discussions, systemicpresentation of discoveries, rational argument, and questioning (Xu42). These philosophical methods have played a critical role inhelping China and the West develop new knowledge and skills. In thecase of China, philosophical thoughts were documented as early as1046 BC, when philosophers believed that thoughts were cycles. Thisidea was based on the observation that people made on the cycles ofthe seasons as well as the day and night. Philosophers in thesubsequent generations have been able to come up with the newknowledge by questioning the ideas put forwards by the ancientphilosophers. Similarly, the Western world had a body of intellectualphilosophers (such as Aristotle) who questioned the way things wereused to happen and present their thoughts on different subjects,such as pure mathematics, biology, astrology, and physics. In bothforms of civilization (including Chinese and Western) philosophy wasa significant tool that facilitated the generation of new ideas andknowledge.

Thegreat divergence

Theterm “Great Divergence” is used to describe how the western worldmanaged to overcome major bottlenecks that hindered development andachieve more civilization than other empires. Initially, developmentin the west and China took place at relatively the same pace, but theability of the Western countries to address the pre-modern challengescreated a gap between the two civilizations (Madsen 3). For example,the age of discovery allowed the West to discover new market routesand interact with people from different cultures. This was followedby the age of enlightenment that facilitated the application ofscience in resolving the problems that the society faced on a dailybasis. The discovery of new markets, trade routes, and scientificknowledge ushered in the scientific, commercial, and industrialrevolution. By the nineteenth century, civilization in the west andChina was in different stages, which marked a significant divergencein terms of economic, scientific, and political aspects ofcivilization.


Developmentin the Western and the Chinese civilization are not parallel, butthey have been taking place at a different pace. The lack ofparallelism in the two forms of civilization is confirmed by the factthat both of them have been taking place in the same dimensions. Forexample, scientific knowledge has been a major pillar in economic,social, and political achievements made in China and the Westernworld. Art has contributed towards civilization in Western and Chinaby preserving beliefs, culture, values, and religious practices forthe subsequent generations. Moreover, the field of architecture hasexperienced advancement in both parts of the world, but major changesin China occurred in decorative details. The western people and theChinese value literature and use it as a tool for sharing knowledge.This ensures that the later generations are able to achievesignificant development by advancing techniques that were putforwards by their forefathers. The Great Divergence allowed theWestern part of the world to achieve drastic economic, social, andpolitical development compared to China. However, the main change wasthe pace, but not the dimensions of civilization. This implies thatdevelopment in both regions is not parallel.


Clark,P. “Chinese architecture in an age of Turmoil, 200-600”. Journalof Chinese Studies62 (2016): 329-332. Print.

Corcoran,C. “Chinese learning style: Blending Confucian and westerntheories”. Journalof Instructional Pedagogies1 (2015): 1-10. Print.

Hu,B., Shen, K. and Xu, L. “Principles and scientific basis oftraditional Chinese Medicine in Cancer treatment. Bioanalysisand Biomedicine6 (2012): 1-6. Print.

Madsen,J. and Yan, E. Thefirst Great Diversion and the evolution of cross-country incomeinequality during the last millennium: The role of institutions andculture.Clayton: Monash University, 2013. Print.

Xu,K. “Chinese “Dao” and Western truth: A comparative and dynamicperspective”. AsianSocial Science6.12 (2010): 42-49. Print.