Daoism and Confucianism are two of China’s oldest and most pervasive philosophies. They arose during the same period in Chinese history, called the Hundred Schools of Thought, a time often marred by unrest and feudal strife. Both philosophies reflect this, as their overarching goals are to seek order and harmony in one’s life, relationship with society, and the universe. Confucianism is a philosophy originated by the Chinese philosopher, Confucius, which teaches that logic and reason can solve all human problems, and rejects excessive emotion and superstition. Confucianism also teaches that following the traditions of early Chinese culture is the best way to organize society. Traditional ritual, music and poetry are also seen as important tools in maintaining societal harmony. Confucius was concerned with matters of human relationships. His philosophy inspires scholars to take up civil service with the goal of building a society based upon their discernment of good and bad and to desire that which is judged to be good. The way of Confucius is to forge a moral society protected from the world. The main source of Confucian teaching is the Analects of Confucius.
Daoism on the other hand was started by Lao Tzu, and is mainly concerned with living a balanced life based on following Nature. Lau Tzu saw the natural world as a sort of teacher which could impart wisdom to mankind if we only observed it and modeled our lives on what we see in nature. Extremes are to be avoided, passivity is encouraged over force, going with the flow of things and avoiding conflict is the goal. Lao Tzu rejects worldly concerns, limited knowledge and flawed judgments as creating an imbalance in the nature of things. The way of Lao Tzu is to allow man and nature to come into a harmonic coexistence. So, to boil it all down to one point, Taoism is all about man's relationship with nature, while Confucianism is about man's relationship with his fellow man. Confucianism was created in the early fourth century B.C.E. The founder of Confucianism was Kong Qiu (K'ung Ch'iu), who was born around 552 B.C.E. in the small state of Lu and died in 479 B.C.E. The Latinized name Confucius, based on the honorific title Kong Fuzi (K'ung Fu-tzu), was created by 16th-century Jesuit missionaries in China. Confucius was a teacher to sons of the nobility at a time when formal education was just beginning in China. He traveled from region to region with a small group of disciples, and believed that his philosophy could transform individuals and society into a more harmonious unit. Confucius was not particularly famous during his lifetime, and even considered himself to be a failure. He longed to be the advisor to a powerful ruler, and he believed that such a ruler, with the right advice, could bring about an ideal world. Confucius said heaven and the afterlife were beyond human capacity to understand, and one should therefore concentrate instead on doing the right thing in this life. The earliest records from his students indicate that he did not provide many moral precepts; rather he taught an attitude toward one's fellow humans of respect, particularly respect for one's parents, teachers, and elders. He also encouraged his students to learn from everyone they encountered and to honor others' cultural norms. Later, his teachings would be translated by authoritarian political philosophers into strict guidelines, and for much of Chinese history Confucianism would be associated with an immutable hierarchy of authority and unquestioning obedience. Confucius’s teachings were carried on and promoted by his disciple Mencius, and, later, by Hsun-Tzu, who lived from about 300 to 235 B.C.E.E. A rationalist form of Neo-Confucianism, an outgrowth of Confucianism, began to gain popularity through the teachings of Chu Hsi, who lived from 1033 to 1107 CE. A more socially oriented Neo-Confucianism became popular through the teachings of Wang Yang-Ming, who lived from 1472 to 1529 C.E....
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