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Daoism Philosophy Critical Essay

Daoism philosophy has existed for centuries. The concept revolves around dietetics that is philosophical and ‘cultivational’ of the Chinese thoughts on religion and other spheres of life. Thus, this reflective treatise attempts to comprehensively review the readings and provide reflections on philosophical and ‘cultivational’ Daoism.

Summary of the Readings

The book, “Introducing Daoism” dwells on the boundary that exists between religion and thought in the unstable, tenuous, and difficult to identify Chinese culture. The ‘Jiao’ (teachings) and ‘Jia’ (lineages) define cults, notions, practices that are synergistic within a self contained system.

The introduction part of the book discusses the historical perspective of Daoism. Chapter one to four of the book concentrates on the philosophical orientation of Daoism on semi divine and divine links within the traditional Chinese religion.

The chapters introduce different schools of thoughts complex questions, and beliefs of the Chinese in the doctrinal age. Chapter five and six of the book, “Introduction to Chinese philosophy” discusses development and transformation of Daoism that venerated different deities that climaxed with unique interactive hierarchies.

On the basis of religion, chapter five and six are specific on spirit-medium and shared grounds. Besides, versifications are introduced and different scholarly views on the ‘cultivational’ perspectives. The ‘common religion’, literary aspects and mystery are reviewed as components of Daoism.

Philosophical and ‘Cultivational’ Daoism

Philosophical Daoism

Jing and Zhuangzi are outstanding legends in the field of Chinese philosophy with their deep sensational thoughts on Daoism. As a matter of fact, the two philosophers have created their own thought on Daoism ethics, their determinants, and accompanying premises[1]. In his comprehensive reflection, Jing adopts a ‘deontological’ approach which base wrongness and rightness on intrinsic characteristics, with the consequences being a negligible influence on the same.

On the other hand, Zhuangzi builds what is commonly referred to as ‘ethics of common sense’ and is actively functioning on self realization and naturalism. Zhuangzi looks into the good will, proper motive, first and second categorical imperatives, and immorality as a component of irrationality in his philosophical reflection on Chinese philosophy.

Zhuangzi covers the aspect of good, happiness as part of moral significance, good character, practical wisdom, ontology and axiology, pleasure, and the contemplative faculty as part of his ethical Chinese philosophy on Daoism.

In analyzing religion, Zhuangzi opines that the only intrinsically and unqualifiedly good is religious deity. He clarifies that this has nothing to do with happiness. Further, Zhuangzi is specific in asserting that wit, intelligence, and judgment are generally of good value to human life but might turn out to be timid when employed for bad rationale.

Reflectively, he is categorical in pursuing the negative results of bad use of self-control and moderation, which generally are good. Thus, Zhuangzi concludes that religion can be perverted since it is “only after the great awakening will we realize that this is the great dream. And yet fools think they are awake, presuming to know that they are rulers or herdsmen”[2].

Interestingly, Jing has the same opinion. He is categorical that the aspect of religion is but just a disposition since it functions around action oriented teleological system. Therefore, Jing denotes his premise from the fact that all rational things often aim for ‘religious deity’ through action oriented respect, mutual coexistence, and deeply entrenched social values.

Lui and Kohn present rudimentary beliefs which fascinate especially on the functioning periphery of Daoism. Lui is philosophical and very sophisticated in clarifying what the society might consider the ideal religious culture of the Daoists[3]. Among his listed examples include experiencing pleasure, being honored, being healthy, and having beneficial friends. However, he is much interested inthe foundation of each of these good actions.

Kohn asserts that questioning these ‘good actions’ is the first step towards understanding the significance of these actions on personal happiness. Kohn further delineates virtue as readiness and the inclination to jump into action with situational excellence despite the circumstances of religion[4]. Therefore, excellence in this case is the average between duo extremes; deficiency and excess.

Despite the existence of several means of achieving the highest good via virtue inclination, Lui and Kohn presents a philosophical definition of virtue since there is not universal formula that can remain the same for interpretation of Daoist philosophers.

‘Cultivational’ Daoism

It is self-evident from chapter three and four of Introducing Daoism that the cosmosphilosophy attempts to ensure a perfect religious society. In such endeavors, conflicts might arise due to different ideologies yield by the Daoists. The Daoism system of the early Chinese society was built on its beliefs and traditions.

They could base on utilitarianism theory which strongly supports maximum utility. In this case, an action or belief would be right if it brings greatest happiness to the greatest majority. Hence, it is a moral principle does not take into perspective the fairness aspect[5].

According to reflective equilibrium all of one’s beliefs should perfectly cohere with one another. One’s abstract’s beliefs should explain one’s general convictions which should explain one’s specific judgments in the Daoism belief system. The beliefs developed a network of mutual support and explanation.


Jing, Daode. “Tao Te Ching.” Brooklyn Education. Web.

Kohn, Livia. Daoist Dietetics: Food for Immortality. London: Three Pine Press, 2010.

Kohn, Livia. Introducing Daoism. New York: JBE Online Book, 2009.

Lai, Karyn. An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy. London: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Zhuangzi-Tse. “Chinese Cultural Studies: Zhuangzi Chuang-Tse.” Brooklyn Education. Web.


  1. Livia Kohn, Introducing Daoism (New York: JBE Online Books, 2009), 35.
  2. Karyn Lai, An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy (London: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 45.
  3. Zhuangzi Tse. Chinese Cultural Studies: Zhuangzi Chuang-tse.
  4. Livia Kohn, Daoist Dietetics: Food for Immortality (London: Three Pine Press, 2010), 67.
  5. Daode Jing, Tao TeChing.

This Critical Essay on Daoism Philosophy was written and submitted by user Jocelyn French to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Jocelyn French studied at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, with average GPA 3.66 out of 4.0.

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French, J. (2019, August 13). Daoism Philosophy [Blog post]. Retrieved from

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French, Jocelyn. "Daoism Philosophy." IvyPanda, 13 Aug. 2019,

1. Jocelyn French. "Daoism Philosophy." IvyPanda (blog), August 13, 2019.


French, Jocelyn. "Daoism Philosophy." IvyPanda (blog), August 13, 2019.


French, Jocelyn. 2019. "Daoism Philosophy." IvyPanda (blog), August 13, 2019.


French, J. (2019) 'Daoism Philosophy'. IvyPanda, 13 August.

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