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Wu-Wei and Political Philosophy

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 3 (590 words)
Categories: Philosophy
Downloads: 48
Views: 4

Early Chinese political history is shrouded in time and the ideals of those that came after. The emperors of antiquity were believed to be just, wise, and capable leaders gently guiding their people to improve themselves. According to Wang Ch’ung (fl. First century C. E. ), good governance is not an empty ideal belonging to a bygone era. Rather, it is a matter of getting well-developed human beings into positions of power. Throughout most of human history, most cultivated human beings never desired to assume a position of political power.

Instead, their search for power extended into the metaphysical, spiritual, and natural world in order to master themselves and teach others to do the same. Unlike his predecessors, Wang Ch’ung believes that people of quality and evil ones exist in all times and places. People are alike—the idea of a golden age was romanticism at best, “The people of earlier ages were the same as those of later ages.

In ancient times there were unrighteous people, and today there are gentlemen of established integrity.

Good and evil intermingle. What age is devoid of them? ”(Chan, 304). According to Lao-tzu and other sages, the only necessary action an emperor needs to perform is to serve as an example of self-cultivation to the people, like the proverbial sage in the previous paragraph. They will follow in his footsteps and he need not do much else because his kingdom would be prosperous and peaceful. How far had Chinese history fallen from the ideal?

Predating the Europeans by two thousand years, the victorious Chou dynasty justified their leadership by a divine right called the Mandate of Heaven. Nonetheless, they had changed the orientation of Chinese thought from a spirit-centered metaphysics to a human centered one. Ushering in a period of artistic and agricultural innovation, this would most approximate a golden age in recent history. The concept of wu-wei applied to today’s politics would completely revolutionize the entire concept of government, as we know it.

Peaceful times would be the rule rather than the exception; the enormous bureaucracies found in most countries would lose their influence and eventually go the way of the dodo bird and the Tyrannosaurus rex. The ideal Taoist leader will do what is necessary to foster good relations with his neighbors without compromising the interests of her citizens, and without resorting to bloodshed, “Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men doesn’t try to force issues or defeat enemies by force of arms. For every force there is a counterforce.

Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself”(Lao-tzu, 30). The tax burden on the population would be significantly lightened, as the government no longer needs to provide social services. Following the natural human instinct for cooperation and compassion, people look out for those that need help. Many current traditions that condemn human nature as innately evil would lose ground in this hypothetical world. The political climate of the twenty-first century is fraught with ideological and theological totalitarianism.

The State appropriated the right to control a citizen’s mind and body by passing laws to grant itself more power. There are probably not that many countries on earth that can rightfully say that its citizens do not feel the day-to-day sledgehammer impact of their respective governments. Governments based on wu-wei principles are either extremely rare or nonexistent. If they do exist, perhaps modern students do not know of them because they never made a splash in the annals of history, “When the Master governs, the people are hardly aware that he exists”(Lao-tzu, 17).

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Wu-Wei and Political Philosophy. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/wu-wei-political-philosophy-875-new-essay

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