The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity
by: William A. Therivel, PhD
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-GAM/DP Synopsis
-GAM Introduction
-DP Introduction
-GAM/DP Summary
-Mozart and not Salieri
-Personality Families
-Berlin's Hedgehogs & Foxes
-James Joyce - Fox
-Newton's Personality Styles
-Gifted and Talented
-GAM's Marginal Men
-GAM's Heidegger
-GAM's Nietzsche
-GAM's Nathaniel Hawthorne
-German Ethnopsychology
-Japanese Ethnopsychology
-French Ethnopsychology
-Spanish Ethnopsychology
-Chinese Ethnopsychology
-Argentine Ethnopsychology
-Byzantium's Creativity
-Venice's Creativity
-Chaucer's Griselda
-Western Medicine's Origins
-Individual Growth by Thinking GxAxMxDP
William A. Therivel
William Therivel
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-High Creativity Unmasked
-Studying Power
-Studying National Characters
-Studying National Creativity
Biography of Author

The evolution of the Chinese civilization, and ethnopsychology (character) are discussed in
Therivel's GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity.

Chinese Ethnopsychology

Did the Mandarins Kill the Chinese Civilization?

The above is the title of chapter 7 of volume 2 of William A. Therivel's The GAM/DP Theory of Personality and Creativity (G stands for genetic endowment, A for assistances of youth, M for misfortunes of youth, DP for division of power, UP for unity of power). For an introduction to the GAM part of the theory click "Introduction to GAM"; for an introduction to the DP part click on "Introduction to DP".
In this website, the reader is also offered a shortcut: The GAM/DP Synopsis and an expanded version, The GAM/DP Summary of volumes 1 through 4.

Hereafter I report the table of contents, the first part of the introduction and the conclusion of this chapter.

This chapter is divided into the following sections:

I. Introduction
II. The Mandarins
     1. Who Were They?
     2. National Uniformity Poisons Creativity
     3. Imperial Confucianism
     4. No Merchant Class and No Bourgeoisie
     5. Control of Education, Literature, and Science
III. Two Other Killers: Footbinding and Eunuchism
     1. Footbinding
     2. Eunuchism
IV. The Main Killer: The Emperors
     1. Copying Castiglione?
     2. Secret Police
     3. Cruelty
     4. Abolition of the Office of Prime Minister
     5. In the West, on the contrary, Eminent First Ministers Were Cardinals With
        Ecclesiastical Scripts and Parallel Allegiance to the Church
V. Tradition and Mistrust of the New
VI. Conclusions

I. Introduction
     The decline and fall of a great and long-lived civilization, in this case the Chinese, has been studied by many scholars and deserves to be studied here as an important case of the application of what I have said all along on the long-term impact of the unity of power on both personality and creativity. For many scholars, the main culprits of this decline were the mandarins:

  • "The straightjacket into which the scholar-officials forced the amorphous body of China was agonizingly uncomfortable and inflicted innumerable frustrations and suffering" (Balazs, 1964, p. 20)
  • "The mandarinate exacted a heavy price in terms of economic progress. By attracting, at least in principle, the best and the brightest from the commercial class, the system focused the nation's intellectual resources toward bureaucratic activity, which was by its very nature conservative" (Mokyr, 1990, pp. 256-57).
  • "China had a vigorous industrial technology at the end of the first millennium A.D…. However, the Chinese ruling class gradually withdrew from its involvement in economic matters, and by the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the education and interests of the mandarins were purely literary and intellectual. The mandarins lost interest in and even knowledge of science…. The mandarin class was so traditional, so congealed in its genteel style….Even in the face of military threat and economic disasters, it was too unprogressive to adjust to changed circumstances" (Cantor, 1993, pp. 43-44).
  • "The movement for modernization in China was obstructed at every turn by the narrow ignorance and prejudice of the Confucian literati" (Fairbank, 1948, p. 156)


     Yet the situation is far from simple, and the mandarins may be neither the only nor even the main culprits for the killing of the Chinese civilization.

VI. Conclusions
     Did the mandarins kill the Chinese civilization? Definitely not by themselves nor because of intrinsic defects of the mandarinate system. The Chinese civilization was killed by the unity of power of its emperors. The mandarins were unconscious henchmen, spreading nationwide the imperial leprosy. Before criticizing the mandarins, one must pity them, pity how they were steadily manipulated first, and then mentally deformed, by the imperial unity of power.
     Did the mandarins kill the Chinese Civilization? Yes, but as part of a machinery whose principal mover was the emperor and whose other parts, as discussed, were the courtly eunuchism and later the widespread footbinding of women.
     Were the emperors the only ones at fault? No: as human beings they, too, belonged to the system and could not escape it. Everybody was prisoner of the system, prisoner of its scripts, including the emperors.
     In essence, the Chinese civilization was killed by the unity of power that became gradually more and more pervasive and was acting on a more and more ossified national system.
     Along the centuries, the system lost the DP elements that were there at the beginning. In a gradual evolution, Confucianism became Neo-Confucianism, then Imperial Confucianism, losing in freshness at each stage. The same happened to the working relations between the emperor and his ministers. Footbinding, which was first an exception at court, became the norm even for every respected farmer. The emperor could reach effectively every corner of his empire only through the mandarins, and these could be so "efficient" only through an ideology that evolved under imperial influence and expressed the imperial desiderata.
     Should we put the fault only on the emperors? No. As in every civilizational decline and fall, others had to participate and willingly because so instructed by a global ideology that told them what to do, and said that what they were doing was right. Clearly the system was one, and reasonably integrated: correspondingly, a precise allocation of the responsibilities for the killing of the Chinese civilization, among emperor, mandarins, eunuchism, footbinding, Imperial Confucianism and other sclerotic scripts, cannot be made beyond seeing each as an active participant in the tragedy which inevitably accompanies the most advanced stages of the unity of power.

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