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Confucianism vs. Daoism Essay

Confucianism and Daoism, although are intermingled among people who practice them, have very different views on what is necessary to become an exemplary person. Confucianism is based on the thought that education, history, structure, rules and regulation will lead to achievement and becoming fully human. Daoists, although they believe in order, hate structure, do not believe in education, and feel wandering, or going with the flow, being with nature, is most important in life.

While education is most important to Confucianism, it is least important to Daoism. Confucius’s believe that through education one is able to move up in society. Education is the energy or power that enables a person to climb the social ladder, so to speak. Daoism believe very different. For them, the most important thing is connecting with nature. To be like free flowing water and to find your level, or connecting with nature, allows one to become a virtuous person. Daoism and Confucianism have very different views on education within their religion.

The importance of history is another example of the differences among Confucianism and Daoism. While history is an important part of Confucianism and what helps them to achieve higher status, Daoists do not believe the past is important, they believe in spontaneity, and the importance to go with the flow and live in harmony with nature.

For Confucius’s, rituals, etiquette and maintaining status quo, bring tranquility. There are five roles with relationships, ruler/subject, parent/child, husband/wife, elder brother/younger brother, and friend/friend, which Confucians believe, along with the five virtues: human-heartedness, justice, propriety, wisdom and faithfulness, produce social order and full human beings. For Daoists the history is not important or relevant, it is the wandering, having no way, or going with the flow, that will help find the way itself.

Each of these religions has their own thought as to what will make one fully human and how to achieve the highest value in life. For Daoists, they believe the problem is that we let life slip away and think the solution is to live life to the fullest and flourish like nature.

They believe that this is only possible if we live life in harmony with the natural rhythms of the Dao, which is the natural way, imitating nature. Confucius’s have a different mindset, because they believe that through hard work and education they are able to move up in society helping them to flourish and become more human and achieve their highest value in society. Both Confucianism and Daoism want to become fully human and achieve their highest level but they have very different views on how to achieve this goal.

To live in harmony for Daoists is to flourish with the nature of things. They believe that humans are made to flourish like trees, but this is only possible if we live in harmony with nature. This is accomplished through the Dao. According to Daoists, when we give into formal education, social conventions, and rituals we die a little each day by acting intentionally and not with the heart.

This leads to thinking too much and not going with the flow or with nature. In Confucianism this is quite opposite because by acting intentionally and following social order, through education, social conventions and rituals, they believe this makes up more human. Confucians’ believe that through social structure and obedience we can live in harmony with each other. For Confucians’ the goal is social order. They believe that the problem is chaos and worried about society falling apart without social order. These two religions, although they both want harmony, have a very different way to achieve this.

One of the major aspects of Confucians is to incline yourself to listen rather than speak, to follow the rule and behave in the proper manor. This is not true for Daoists who believe in following nature, not to think but to just go with it. Confucians feel that our actions should have a purpose and that in order to sustain social order we must act according to our status, traditions, and follow Li, which means “to arrange in order”. Also important to Confucius’s is etiquette, customs, manners, ceremony, courtesy, civility and propriety. Li and ren are two important concepts in Confucius’s thought because they both lead to self-cultivation and social harmony.

Ren, which is human-heartedness, is inward and subjective, li, ritual, etiquette, and propriety, is outward and objective. While li and ren are important to Confucius, the Dao is important to Daoists. The Dao, or the way, is the way of untamed nature and real human life. Through the Dao there is an authentic natural order that results.

Although these two religions are quite different in their fundamental thinking it is important to note that they do work to complement each other in their societies. People in china feel Daoists adopted Confucius as one of their own. Each of these two religions coexists. The text explains this well when it says, “Confucianism’s communitarianism and Daoism’s individualism, Confucianism’s formalism and Daoism’s flow, the hard yang of Confucianism and the soft yin of Daoism”. It is said that they are Confucian’s at work, Daoists on the weekend and Buddhists at death. This goes to say that these religions can be intertwined throughout this society and people do not need to adopt and follow just one religion.

In conclusion it is important to note that, although these two religions have very different ideologies, they do work to create peace and serenity. They both do not believe in a God but in a higher power and promote becoming fully human to achieve that higher power. I find it interesting how different the concepts in these religions are but yet how people can acclimate themselves to being both Confucians and Daoists at the same time. For how different each of these religions are I can understand how following order and knowing your place is society is important as well is connecting with nature to find your true self.

Works Cited:

Chan, Alan K.L.Daoism. April 2013. http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com.

Confucianism. China during time of Confucius. 2007. http://www.highbeam.com

Confucianism. Encyclopedia Britannica online. http://www.britannica.com

Confucianism: values and order. Faces: People, Places, and Cultures. May 2010. www.highbeam.com.

Daoism (Chinese philosophy and religion). Encyclopedia Britannica. www.britannica.com.

Miller, James. 2013 August. Daoist Studies. Daoism and Daoist Studies. http://www.daoiststudies.org/

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