Comparison of Taoism and Confucianism

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Comparison of Taoism and Confucianism

By | Feb. 2007
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Confucianism and Taoism have contrasting views on both religion and politics. However, they stem from a similar goal and have similar beliefs. Confucianism is mainly centered around virtue and ethics as a means to an ordered society and believes that an ordered society is what people should strive for. Taoism, on the other hand, focuses on the individual life in relation to the Tao, or "way of nature." Both are considered philosophies and not religions and acknowledge a path that a person should follow in life. However, they take opposing views not only on religion and politics, but also on the person's responsibilities.

Confucianism is based on the teachings of Confucius (also known as Kongzi). In these teachings Confucius talks about virtues and how they apply to social ethics. For the most part, Confucianism rejects mysticism and any sense of spirituality beyond filial piety, or reverence and respect for one's ancestors. Confucians seek to cultivate virtues within themselves. The way they go about doing such is by seeking to achieve ren (humanity). They strive to be a superior man and ren is the only way in which they can achieve this. Ren is made up of xiao (filial piety), li (respect), zhong (loyalty), zhi (wisdom), and xin faithfulness). Confucianists have, at times, attacked Taoism because they feel it lacks the necessities for social order.

Taoism, unlike Confucianism, is filled with mysticism. There are two forms of Taoism: philosophical and esoteric and both place a huge emphasis on metaphysics and immortality through religion as well as relying greatly on cosmic forces. The central teaching of Taoism is similar to Buddhism in the way that it centers around emptiness. The meaning of emptiness used in Taoist and Buddhist beliefs is not that of the Western notion but a lack of a permanent individual identity.

When a person manages to become one with the Tao, they are no longer having an individual identity because they are now a part...
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