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Philosophical traditions of Confucianism, Daoism & Legalism Essay

In the middle of the chaos of political weakness and constant warring of the Zhou era, arose many creative thinkers that brought such a knowledgeable impact in politics, religion and philosophy. Confucianism became the primary school of thinking. Later important philosophies such as Daoism and Legalism gained great respect as well. Each party had their own plans for creating a dreamlike political society where many problems they faced in their everyday lives could be eliminated.

All three approaches were very specific. At the same time, they contained certain similarities as well. In my reasoning, I find that Confucianism and Daoism could be paralleled in many ways to find several common grounds. On the other hand, Legalism takes a more uncommon approach. This was much different from the other two.

Both Confucianism and Daoism disfavored a harsh government. Both thought systems consider it mostly as a mystery that the human mind cannot fully comprehend or alter. In Confucianism, they urged to lead the people with virtue and rituals as opposed to government policies and punishments. Confucianism believed that the ruler should gain respect through his deeds rather than achieving it through his status and authority. Likewise, Daoism disliked the emphasis of status being displayed in the political realm. Both beliefs also agree that individuals should foster compassion, humility and moderation for a successful society.

Legalism was far different in its ideals and approach unlike its predecessors. While Confucianism tried to gain total harmony with social order and Daoism searched for the same result in nature, Legalist believed that a strong political structure was the answer. While the previous two believed that politics should be very basic, Legalism asked for a strict code of law and a distinct enforcement of it. They believed a strong rule with a strict hand was necessary in order to keep the citizens from growing lazy and disrespecting the authority.

Out of the three different thought systems, Legalism was a success in the sense that it achieved what the other two systems desperately strove for – the unification of China. Many of the Legalist ideas were quite thought harsh and praiseworthy; they believed in equality for all and government according to merit. However, the system gained a rotten reputation according to the ruthless rule of the First Emperor. Confucianism thus became the official Philosophy, gaining wide acceptance in China.


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