Although the key concepts of Daoism and Confucianism seem to be miles away from each other, there is still a distinct similarity between the two. While most of the concepts that Daoism embraces stand on their own, some of the ideas expressed in the Daoism postulates cross with the ones conveyed in Confucianism.
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Analyzing the key concepts of Daoism, i.e., “analogies”, one can possibly figure out what the philosophy of Daoism manifests as the ultimate enlightenment, as well as compare the given ideas with the similar ones from Confucianism.
First and foremost, the harmony between yin and yang must be mentioned. Aimed at restoring one’s balance within, Daoism stresses the importance of balance between the feminine and the masculine. Further on, the Daoism teachings say, “Make yourself like bamboo, a bowl, door, window, canyon/valley: empty, void, still” (Daoist philosophies, n. d).
Another key Taoism analogy concerns water; as Oldmeadow put it, “Still following the analogy of water, Taoism rejects all forms of self-assertiveness and competition” (Oldmeadow, 2007, 220). Finally, the analogy between a Taoism follower and a child is drawn to stress such virtues of a child as innocence and curiosity (Scharfstein, 2009, 266).
Though the four above-mentioned analogies are considered the key ones in the Daosism school of thought, there are also a couple of related concepts that are worth brining up. To start with, Daosism teaches that Dao, the crucial concept in the entire philosophy, can be viewed as an analogy of a family’s house.
On the one hand, the given analogy might not seem adequate enough; while a family house is something stable, Dao is usually translated into the concept of a road and, therefore, represents a constantly changing environment. Therefore, Dao as an analogy of a family house seems quite a stretch.
However, the given analogy still has certain grounds to base on. Considering a family house as a shelter, a place where one can feel relatively safe, will inevitably bring one to perceiving Dao as a kind of “family,” the school that teaches one basic values and provides a viable way to analyze things, as well as develop one’s own set of values, which is actually often what family members provide their child with. Therefore, the analogy that represents Dao as a family’s house is quite understandable.
Finally, the issue of Zhuangzi, or wu wei, should be mentioned. An important analogy in the philosophy of Buddhism as well, wu wei is usually referred to as “nonaction,” though there is no actual translation – at least not into the English language – for the given concept.
However, the given translation is wrong; as Daoist principles claim, “Those who wu wei do act” (Daoist philosophies, n. d.); only, in contrast to the traditional actions that people perform on a daily basis, the wu wei actions are “natural,” “effortless” (Daoist philosophies, n. d.).
Hence, Daosism concepts embrace a wide range of virtues and abilities that contribute to finding the way to the ultimate Enlightenment. While Confucianism communicates the principles of returning to nature, Daosism focuses on personal development. Therefore, it can be concluded that in Daosism, the focus is on a person as an individual, while in Confucianism, the focus is on the relationships between people and nature, i.e., the interpretation of a nature-versus-nurture argument.
Daoist philosophies (n. d.). Retrieved from https://www.iep.utm.edu/daoism/
Oldmeadow, H. (2007). Light from the East: Eastern wisdom for the modern West. Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, Inc.
Scharfstein, B.-A. (2009). Art without borders: A philosophical exploration of art and humanity. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.