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Attitudes Towards Technology in Rome and Han China

Info: 1336 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 13th Oct 2021 in History

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Technology has played an essential part in the growth of both classical civilizations. Han China's attitude towards technology and labor was more transparent and supportive than that of the Romans. They had a more systematic and class-divided society, thereby creating low general work and attitude towards technology. As well as using innovations to avoid natural disasters, the Han dynasty valued performance in their tools. Though, the Romans marveled at the advances of their culture but declined to glorify anyone working with tools. There was a majority acceptance of technological development in China, with some against it. Even though the opinion was divided between encouragement and negative throughout the Roman Empire, both civilizations support technology for irrigation and water control. They even had myths and examples from previous centuries to demonstrate their support.

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To contextualize, From 206 B.C. to A.D. 220, the Han Dynasty governed China. The dynasty was China's second royal dynasty. It is also recognized for its spread of Confucianism as the official religion and opening up the Silk Road trading route to Europe. From a smallish village on the Tiber River, ancient Rome grew into an empire that enclosed a vast majority of northern Africa, western Asia, and the Mediterranean islands. Latin progressed into the current Western language and calendar and the advent of Christianity as a major world religion as a product of Rome's pervasive influence.

The revolution of agriculture denoted the beginning of human progress. As individuals became inactive, the populace expanded, which allowed specialization of work. Civilization was able to shape through the specialization of work, which offered new technologies. One of them was the Roman empire, which produced ingenious advancements. The outlook of Romans on innovations was aesthetic because they felt it was about the role of their technologies and the structure. Thus they thought their advances must be artistic. They don't see how an average person would benefit from technology. In document 2​ , we see Cierco stating that nobleme​ n should not participate in art or workshops since it was vulgar, demonstrating that upper-class Romans did not need modernization. Taking into account that he was an informed elite individual that minded about his status. This made him disregard how technology could be useful to other people. The Romans' perspective toward innovation is one of "if the higher class people can't be benefited, then it isn't worth it." This will clarify the absence of incredible developments under the Roman Empire. However, Plutarch shows his gratefulness toward innovation in document 4. He depicts the innovative advances of the Political leader Gaius Gracchus. H​ e examines Gracchus' road-building, which was specific since he wanted to make his streets wonderful and satisfying to the eye. The roads were not exclusively creative; however, it gave huge advantages by assisting districts' connection to Rome. Document ​ 7 supports his statement.​ The roads facilitate trade, military, and communication networks. The only documents that show concern towards commoners would be documents ​ 5. Here Frontius talks about the Roma​ n adequate, declaring them better than the pyramids. Frontius, a Roman civil engineer from the last 1st century AD, states that the aqueducts are more useful than pyramids because they are only for eye pleasure. He wrote De Aquis Urbis Romae​ ​ ("Concerning the Waters of the City of Rome"), a set of experiences and depiction of the water supply of Rome, including the laws identifying with its utilization, maintenance, and different issues relating to the significance of the entire existence of design.

Another civilization that arose from specialization of labor was the Han Dynasty or also known as Han China. The Han dynasty was primarily about self-admiration, since they created everything from paper to hydraulic engineering . They felt that technology was to help other people. Han's perspective in regards to technology was that it was a necessary part to work since it helped support people with different gadgets. Document 1​ supports this statement by the​ occasion of a flood, this shows concern for people and their property. They emphasize the importance of hydraulic engineering and that it was important for the government to regulate it. This emits the feeling that technology is there for the rescue of the individuals. This connects with document 3​ because the mythical ruler Fuxi is being commended for the valuable​ developments such as water fueled plants. They are indicating that technology is an offering from mystical emperors since they want to be good confucians and are worried about ren. Tying in with the Han dynasty seeing technology as a way to help peasants make their life easier. In document 4 Tu Shih is formulating machines to make peasants not work as hard as they used to​ and have more spare time. However, this data comes from a history sponsored by the public authority. Which demonstrates boasting from Tu Shihs side by the choice of words like "peaceful" and "generous". The national philosophy of Han China was Confucianism, so it's not shocking that the lead representative is portrayed as a responsible Confucian who really takes into account his authority. As a result of this being a piece of history sponsored by the government we can be dubious of whether or not the representatives' liberality. Nonetheless, the description of the advancements sounds like something that would be handy to the hands of average people.

Despite the similarities of opinion, Han China and Rome have multiple distinctions that make them unique. For instance, Chinese philosophers were farther encouraging of technology than Roman scholars. In document 2​ ​ a Roman writer and an upper class consul that is famous for​ his speeches about politics named Cicero​ shows a negative attitude about modern innovations.​ He thinks that technology isn't necessary for upper class people but more for lower classmen. In addition he also believes that technology is necessary, but not enlightened minds. It is made​ apparent of the attitude for the words "degrading" and "vulgar". This doesn't come to a shock since Rome is heavily influenced with social stratification. Since the different levels of social status show your perspective on technology. The upperclassmen would think that it isn't necessary and the lower classmen would think otherwise since technology was making their lives easier. On the other hand, Han China thought that technology was an essential part of life whether or not you were an upperclassmen or lower classmen. Back then there was the rise of Confucianism which resulted in the Chinese government encouraging their philosophers to only talk positive comments about the Han empire. According to document 3​ , an upper class Han​ philosopher, and politician of the Western Han named Huan Tan displays a positive attitude for​ technological improvements. He was making it seen that the gifts from Fuxi helped lower classmen with their lives and made them have more free time. It is seen by the word choice of the philosopher by praising the inventions of his mythical emperor.

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Overall, the attitude of Han China and Rome differs by Rome being less supportive of modern technology than the Han dynasty. Rome's views on technology were just as aesthetic, they thought that if the new innovations did not benefit the upperclassmen then it wasn't worth it. On the other side of the spectrum, Han China thought that technology could help the lives of lower classmen and they wanted that. This was a product of the rise of the religion named Confucianism. Moreover, both civilizations were immensely influential to future governments by their diverse opinions toward modern innovations. They played a major role in future advancements on other civilizations.

 

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