Comparing Confucianism And Daoism

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The traditions of Confucianism and Daoism have been vital to the analysis of Chinese history and culture. Confucianism comes from the ancient teachings of Confucius, a major philosopher before the Han Dynasty of China took control. Daoism, on the other hand, comes primarily from one philosopher called Lao Zi, or “ Old Master.” Both schools of thought are driven under the assumption that human nature is generally good. Though the two philosophies derive from somewhat similar foundations, they vary in number of ways. For instance, both schools of thought involve wisdom regarding Dao, meaning “the Way,” yet the role which the Way plays in Confucian teachings differs from that of Daoism. Also, the significance of societal infrastructure in the…show more content…
In the Daoist wisdom of the Lao Zi, the Way acts an entity that is impossible to be defined or understood by traditional means. While one can learn mathematics or scientific study in a classroom, the Way cannot be learned through the retention of knowledge. In fact, practicing the Way altogether discourages overthinking anything to the point that knowledge is lost. In the collection of Chinese cultural readings edited by Victor Mair, Hawai’i Reader in Chinese Culture, Daoist philosopher Guan Zhong discusses the importance of qi, which can be defined as “life-force” or “breath.” In this text, Guan Zhong explains, “Vital essence is the refined essence of qi. If the qi is guided, there is life; if there is life, there are thoughts; if there are thoughts, there is knowledge; if there is knowledge, stop. As a rule, the form of the mind loses its life if it knows too much” (Mair, 80). In short, overthinking leads to a collapse of the mind, resulting in the loss of knowledge. This is an important excerpt due to its implications in understanding the Way in Daoist teaching: if one is confused by the essence of the Way, it is vital not to try and analyze it; the Way is not meant to be analyzed. In addition, Guan Zhong says, “The Way is what fills one’s body, but people cannot consolidate it [within themselves]. It goes and does not return; it comes but does not stay. It is silent! No one can hear its tones. It…show more content…
For example, both Daoism and Confucianism have no need for formal law to dictate society or punish those who have broken these laws. In James Legge’s translation of the Confucian Analects, it is said that “if the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment, but have no sense of shame. If they be led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of property, then they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good” (Legge, 146). In saying this, the Master intends there not to be laws and punishment to correct wrongdoings, because he believes there will be no motivation to better oneself after receiving the punishment. Confucian thought is so focused on the path of virtue that it is assumed a wrongdoer will correct their behavior given that they intend to follow

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