Confucianism and Taoism

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Confucianism and Daoism are two influential schools of thoughts that have existed in ancient China around the 6th century BCE. The former, led by the politician and philosopher Confucius, proposed that humans live in society according to a set of predefined rules and that they transform society through political action. Whereas the latter, led by the philosopher Lao-Tzu, promoted the idea of inaction; people should go with the flow instead of taking action to control their lives and dominate their surroundings. Although, at first glance Daoism and Confucianism seem to be two opposing philosophies, a more in depth analysis of two of their key ideas –filial piety and education—reveals that they do share some similarities. Both Confucianism and Taoism seem to have opposing views on the subject of filial piety. In The Analects, Confucius urges us not only to serve our parents, but also to obey and respect them under all circumstances. However, in the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu wrote: “When there is no peace in the family, filial piety begins” (no. 18). What does he mean by that? One possible, or probably the most obvious, interpretation of this statement is that filial piety cannot exist without conflicts in the family. Such interpretation would indeed be in complete opposition to Confucius’ view on the matter. However, since conflict implies action, that interpretation would also contradict the inaction principle of Taoism. Lao is definitely not encouraging conflicts in the family. The right explanation of Lao Tzu’s view on filial piety takes into account the concept of nature which is one of the core principles of Taoism. What Lao is really saying in the statement is that any form of filial piety that begins only after a conflict has ... ... middle of paper ... ..., when we look at the deeper meaning of education as seen in Confucianism and Taoism, we see that they consider education in much the same way. One must know the importance of self-realization and understand how they fit into the whole. This is a very important form of education. In this way, we will be better prepared to integrate the greater whole. In conclusion, Daoism and Confucianism seem to have a lot more in common than one might think. The two philosophies share the same viewpoints on the notions of filial piety and education. I believe, the principles and values that are taught in those philosophies could be of great benefit to our contemporary society. Works Cited Lao Tsu. The Tao Te Ching. Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English. Vintage Books, 1989. Confucius, , and Arthur Waley. The Analects of Confucius. New York: Random House, 1938. Print.
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