Religion on Confucianism

Topics: Confucius, Taoism, Chinese philosophy Pages: 6 (2162 words) Published: November 2, 2008
In both Confucianism and Taoism there is a concept of the Superior Man. Name and define some of the principles which are embodied in the Superior man, according to each religion and compare them. I had the task of this question and doing the research on the two to see if there was a difference. The power acquired by the Taoist is te, the efficacy of the Tao in the realm of Being, which is translated as “virtue.” Lao-tzu viewed it, however, as different from Confucian virtue: The man of superior virtue is not virtuous, and that is why he has virtue. The man of inferior [Confucian] virtue never strays from virtue, and that is why he has no virtue. The “superior virtue” of Taoism is a latent power that never lays claim to its achievements; it is the “mysterious power” (hsüan te) of Tao present in the heart of the sage—“the man of superior virtue never acts (wu-wei), and yet there is nothing he leaves undone.” Wu-wei is not an ideal of absolute inaction nor a mere “not-overdoing.” It is an action so well in accordance with things that its author leaves no trace of himself in his work: “Perfect activity leaves no track behind it; perfect speech is like a jade worker whose tool leaves no mark.” It is the Tao that “never acts, yet there is nothing it does not do.” There is no true achievement without wu-wei because every deliberate intervention in the natural course of things will sooner or later turn into the opposite of what was intended and will result in failure. The sage who practices wu-wei lives out of his original nature before it was tampered with by knowledge and restricted by morality; he has reverted to infancy (that is, the undiminished vitality of the newborn state); he has “returned to the state of the Uncarved Block (p’u).” P’u is uncut, unpainted wood, simplicity. Society carves this wood into specific shapes for its own use and thus robs the individual piece of its original totality. “Once the uncarved block is carved, it forms utensils (that is, instruments of government); but when the Sage uses it, he would be fit to become Chief of all Ministers. This is why the great craftsman (ruler) does not carve (rule).”

Any willful human intervention is believed to be able to ruin the harmony of the natural transformation process. The spontaneous rhythm of the primitive agrarian community and its un-self-conscious symbiosis with nature’s cycles is thus the Taoist ideal of society. In the ideal society there are no books; the Lao-tzu (Tao-te Ching) itself would not have been written but for the entreaty of the guardian of the pass Yin Hsi, who asked the “Old Master” to write down his thoughts. In the Golden Age, past or future, knotted cords are the only form of records. The people of this age are “dull and unwitting, they have no desire; this is called uncarved simplicity. In uncarved simplicity the people attain their true nature.” Chuang-tzu liked to oppose the Heaven-made and the man-made; that is, nature and society. He wanted man to renounce all artificial “cunning contrivances” that facilitate his work but lead to “cunning hearts” and agitated souls in which the Tao will not dwell. Man should equally renounce all concepts of measure, law, and virtue. “Fashion pecks and bushels for people to measure by and they will steal by peck and bushel.” He blamed not only the culture heroes and inventors praised by the Confucians but also the sages who shaped the rites and rules of society. That the unwrought substance was blighted in order to fashion implements—this was the crime of the artisan. That the Way (Tao) and its Virtue (te) were destroyed in order to create benevolence and righteousness—this was the fault of the sage. Even “coveting knowledge” is condemned because it engenders competition and “fight to the death over profit.”...
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