Human societies are complex structures with an amazing number of contradictions. Confucian philosophy rated the class of merchants below peasants in a hierarchy of status, but merchants were vital to a functioning economy and could grow as wealthy as members of much higher social classes. Confucian philosophical values often affected administrative policy with an emphasis on reduced government support of trade. Merchants often invested in land or sent their sons to Confucian schools to achieve higher status and appease society’s ongoing quest for enlightenment versus revenue. But trade continued to grow, connecting the different regions of China and building great cities. The challenge is to determine why greater consistency did not develop. Can you think of similar contradictions in your own society?