Comparing Confucianism and Daoism

During the 6th century B.C. the philosophical development in ancient China was at its top. Confucianism and Taoism were two of the world's chief philosophies that Chinese society has contributed. They provide not only a way of thinking but also a way of life. The two most powerful spiritual leaders, which were native to China, Confucius and Zhuangzi were believed to have lived and taught during that time. Their philosophies Confucianism and Daoism existed concurrently in dynastic China and attracted countless numbers of followers during the past 2,500 years. At first inspection, Confucianism and Taoism may appear to be rather diverse, even opposed. To the enlightened, it is clear that Confucian thought and Taoist thought are so much in line with each other, but it is just because the two philosophies denote differently. The paper provides a comparison of the two world’s chief philosophies, the Confucianism and the Daoism, contrasting their differences and similarities.

The two apparently various philosophies find reconciliation at the crossroads where the three basic ideas cross at the heart of each philosophy: education, enlightenment, and family. Both philosophies are concern on the condition of the peoples and the quality of life. They focus on the individual instead, and the fate or the path that the person takes. The two philosophies complement each other and their first sight differences appear to be in deep observation their similarities.

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First, Confucianism philosophy founded by charismatic leader Confucius, born in 551 B.C., and based his theories on the way or the Dao. He lived in the age of culture of early Zhou.

Confucius believed that the people learned how to ameliorate the way by having knowledge that the ancients could better themselves studying willingness to serve others. Confucius thought these people to be the best model to conduct the way for others. Confucius dwelled in an era of Chinese history known for its governmental cruelty and political problems. He said, “One who engages in government by virtue may be compared to the North Star; it occupies its place and all the stars pay homage to it” (Confucian quote). The Confucian meant that the authentic leader can lead the whole nation. One more try to solve this problem of the instability of government by harmonizing the former ways of the Chou Dynasty founders. Confucius named this period the Age of Grand Harmony. In politics, Confucianism supports a government in which the matters are respectful. Leaders must be examples for the humans and cultivate moral amelioration.

Daoism, compare to Confucianism, was not sure that the individual could ameliorate his ways. The person could only learn the laws of nature and maintain the balance not intervening with it. Zhuangzi, the founder of Daoism lived during the war and attempted to understand the causes of violence in world and China as well. Unlike Confucius, he thought that utilizing ancient philosophers as models of behavior would lead to stabilization of nation’s disorder. In Daoism, the most significant concept is the Dao. Humans can understand the Dao in the following ways. First, Dao is the eventual reality due to its complication and toughness in understanding. Secondly, the Daoism describes Dao as the way of the universe. Thirdly, Dao is the human life way. Moreover, this aspect of Dao has the greatest influence on the Chinese culture.

Second, regarding the individual, Daoism teaches a person to live naturally. Contrasting the Daoism, Confucianism teaches well conduct, practical wisdom and relevant social relationships. The Zhuangzi claimed that people are following the natural flow of deals and do not go against them. A person should live, enjoy, and not strive to alterations. The Daoism has no ambition that is why it cannot fail it means to succeed. Having succeeded, an individual becomes powerful. The objective of Daoism is not to intervene with others but set goals, aims and force upon them. The chief in Confucian ethics is love, kindness, and goodness. An individual must be trustful to others as well as oneself. Its other virtues include righteousness, integrity, and piety. If a person possesses all of these virtues, he can become a perfect man.

Third, concerning education, Confucian thought and Daoism thought differ greatly. Zhuangzi believed that the more a person knows, the less he understands. On the other hand, Confucius said that if a person learns but does not think he is lost, contrary, if an individual thinks but does not learn he is in danger. These two philosophies seem to contradict each other until a deeper look at how each religion treats education.

In the Daoist tradition, institutional facilities perceive with suspicion. Daoists think institutions are going against nature by making people become who they truly are not. The Daoist searches to understand the naturalness of all existing things in the world. Moreover, the Daoist is an educator. Instead of attempting to understand every separate piece, the Taoist tries to know the whole because the Dao is the whole. For instance, we can tell that we know someone, but we do not perceive him or her. In Daoism, the chief principle is not to know something but to understand it. 

Alike the Daoism, Confucianism also perceives self-education, and not institutional one that is the most significant. However, according to Confucius, “the true gentleman does not preach what he practices until he practices what he preaches”(Confucian quote). Confucian says that people should first understand themselves as well as their potential. This claim is heart of Confucius education. Confucius believed that a person must first understand himself to realize anything else in the world. The education of a person is progressing when an individual is progressing though his life. The Confucian knowledge lies in the principle when both the studying and the thought processes operate together. Experiencing the various in-life events an individual growth as well as educate him.

To conclude, both philosophies encourage humans to conduct well lives, to fulfill all their duties and obligations as well as balance their lives. The people must differentiate their roles of mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, siblings, relatives, friends, ruler, etc. The two philosophies encourage a person to be able to balance his all roles and do them to the fullest, find a balance between courage and cowardice. If people understand the principles of Daoism and Confucianism, issues like negligence, violence, adultery, divorce, war would disappear as everyone would realize their place and conduct their roles efficiently. Both Confucianism and Daoism perceive education in similar way. A person must know the significance of self-realization and understand how to progress into the world. The philosophies are sure that the life is the best education.

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