The notion of civility originated in Europe as feudalism gave way to the Enlightenment as a way to civilize the behavior of the lesser lords and knights at court, later spreading to the rising bourgeoisie and to other commoners. It was also encouraged by the Church. It has been taken up by political philosophers who see it as implying that all in society are one’s consociates and as being crucial for democracy and citizenship. A public sphere is necessary for its existence, which can be facilitated or hindered by social factors. There was no Chinese tradition of civility embodied in Confucianism, the ceremonial ritual behavior demanded being deferential, between those of unequal statuses, not based on the equality of all as fellow human beings. A community compact institution began in the Ming to teach Confucian behavior to the masses but it was a failure. The notion of public weal or behavior consistent with civility was almost completely absent in dynastic China on the part of either the government or the general public.
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