Daoism philosophy has developed since time in sundry. Specifically, this system of religious thought originated from Asia continent. Kohn has developed a comprehensive table of events in the development of Daoism philosophy. Thus, this reflective treatise attempts to explicitly review the development of Daoism philosophy in the cultures of the Koreans, Japanese and Chinese. Besides, the treatise explores the orientations of the Daoist tradition and the concepts of sages, deities, hell and heaven, and Confucian discourse.
Lai and Kohn on Daoism in China
In analyzing Daoism in China, Lai brings about the question of legitimacy of the different ideologies in the then free Chinese society. Lai asserts that issue legitimacy ensures stability of the society. Therefore, the religious power can only be fully exercised in accordance with the deities and beliefs endorsed in the light of principles and ideals acceptable to common human reason1.
This deity framework tolerates as well as respects others of different opinions. Hence, this provides a particular explanation for the diversity of traditions in the sundry Chinese society. These fundamental ideas from the public Chinese Daoism religious culture were then interpreted into the social conception of the ideal sages that differentiated the dualist existence of hell and heaven.
It was free standing since its content was set out independently of the comprehensive doctrines that members of Daoism culture affirmed. This led to overlapping consensus in which each reasonable Daoist affirmed the religious law from within own perspective.
On the other hand, Kohn strongly believes that highest morals rest of deity and safe systems which allowed mankind to undertake actions in the backdrop of peak morality or moral worth often based on the origin priority of the Chinese culture. For instance, when the underlying Daoism religious belief command plan originated from the opinionated inclination of a senior individual in the society, the results would basically be aligned towards self contempt2.
Kohn further reviewed the categorical and hypothetical imperatives of the Daoism to understand its metamorphosis within the unique Chinese culture of the time. Unlike hypothetical imperatives, Kohn argued that categorical imperatives motivated the daoists to undertake actions by the desires to complete such religious actions. These actions were ideal and expected of mankind, irrespective of experience since Kohn described them as universal.
The hypothetical imperatives of the Daoism culture were motivational stems from human errors that may exist in actions. For instance, Kohn identifies obligations which may be mistaken for happiness and self preservation. Reflectively, the arguments of Kohn and Lai unite the individual to religious deity which are not a must to be exercised over a long period of time to establish the level of goodness, as is the case in the modern Confucius society of China.
Rather, what matters in the intention of the action in inter and intra personal relationships within a community. However, the two authors lack on self exposition and virtuous sages since judgment may be based on only a few incidences of religious confusion. Besides, Kohn is sceptical on his own accountability of the good will, which he describes as a self determinant in the development of the Daoism philosophy.
Orientations in the Daoist Tradition
The orientations in the Daoist tradition balance the contrary extreme habits to maintain beneficial friendship despite assuming a compromising ground for religious actions. There are specific deities and sages that define what is ideal and the contrary. These beliefs create a standard and uniform ground from which all members are in a position to accomplish morality in more or less the same approach. In fact, the morality will is dependent on the intention and imperatives that function at every level of the Daoist society.
Similarities and Differences in Daoism Tradition in Korea, Japan and China
In these three societies, Daoism philosophy operates within the moral worth of an action. The moral worth does not lie in the effect generated but the underlying motivation to live within harmony and self discipline. Besides, members of Daoism tradition can only be declared progressive after years of consistent practicing morality and virtual superfluity ways. Therefore, the actions of an individual determine his position in either hell or heaven.
In the Chinese and Korean Daoism society, man was only moral by making excellent use of religious doctrines to accomplish categorical duties3. On the other hand, the Japanese Daoism tradition accommodated self discipline which has remained consistent despite varying human emotions controlled by the ideal moral standards. Besides, these Daoism traditions have different views on the universal scale of the society’s categorical imperatives.
Generally, the legitimacy led to the acceptability of the deities and religious roles that were internalized in the norms of the society. The moral standards of the Daoism tradition answered questions of both freedom and equality in the traditional society. This is through the basic structures of the society. Moreover, every member of the Daoism society had equal basic liberties, fair equality of opportunities and the least advantaged members got the greatest benefits.
In the contemporary civilized Confucian society, proactive morality defines integral aspects of interactive beliefs that positively facilitates life effectiveness and promote social life interaction4. Since the world consist of many cultures, a universal Daoism definition of proactive morality is not possible since it depends on the cultural dialects and symbols employed by each culture and personality.
Jung, Jae-Seo. “Daoism in Korea.” In Daoism Handbook, edited by Livia Kohn, 792- 820. Leiden: Brill, 2000.
Kohn, Livia. Introducing Daoism. New York: JBE Online Book, 2009.
Lai, Chi-tim. “Daoism in China Today: 1980-2002.” In Religion in China Today, edited by Daniel Overmyer,413-427. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Masuo, Shinichiro. “Daoism in Japan.” In Daoism Handbook, edited by Livia Kohn, 821- 842. Leiden: Brill, 2000.
1 Chi-tim Lai, “Daoism in China Today: 1980-2002.” In Religion in China Today, edited by Daniel Overmyer,413-427 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
2 Livia Kohn, Daoist Dietetics: Food for Immortality (London: Three Pine Press, 2010), 67.
3 Jae-Seo Jung, “Daoism in Korea.” In Daoism Handbook, edited by Livia Kohn, 792-820 (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 44.
4 Shinichiro Masou, “Daoism in Japan.” In Daoism Handbook, edited by Livia Kohn, 821-842 (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 21.