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Differences Between Confucianism and Daoism Essay


Confucianism is a traditional form of ethics that was developed among the Chinese people during antiquity. Confucius, a Chinese teacher, taught his followers various things about living in a society (Harwood 52). Other influential people such as Jesus of Nazareth did their teachings in a style similar to his.

However, Confucius lived more than five hundred years before Jesus of Nazareth. Confucianism holds a belief that all humans can be molded through teaching to improve their conduct and productivity in the society (Harwood 54). Confucianism does not qualify to be considered a religion since it is not a belief system.

It is an ethical system, which that demands people sacrifice themselves for their society. This ideology formed the basis of successive Chinese social and political structures. Today, this ideology forms the basis of the Chinese communist government, an authority much different from other communist setups.

On the other hand, Chinese teachers developed Daoism much later during antiquity, at around 100 BC (Brine 3). Daoism is a philosophical field with a religious aspect. It is also known as Taoism, an older term. This philosophical field includes religious teachings, spiritualism, physical wellbeing, and societal norms (Hu & Allen 4).

It is also deeply integrated into the Chinese culture. Daoism was developed for individual practice rather than for communal purpose. There are several differences between Daoism and Confucianism (Brine 7).

Confucianism is a hierarchal philosophy where the government is highly regarded. According its teachings, the authorities are for the good of the society. For this reason, all men in the society are required to assist the authorities in the administration of the state.

In addition, human beings are supreme in the world according to Confucianism (Harwood 56). All people are expected to conduct themselves properly through humility and obedience. Furthermore, people are expected to educate themselves and maintain order in the society.

On the other hand, Daoism has little regard for communal practices. It does not integrate the individual into the social structure (Hu & Allen 3). Moreover, it does not support any form of hierarchal order in the society. According to Daoism, the individual is supreme.

For this reason, it is not possible to form any kind or social order using Daoism. Art and skill are important aspects of practice of Daoism, particularly because it focuses on the enhancement of the individual. Daoism defines Confucianism as a distortion of human values.

Daoism discourages communal practices since they are against any form of individualism. For Daoism, it is best to understand oneself since individualism is the true human nature. Taoists consider hierarchal society to be a oppressive system built due to greed. Structures such as the military are evil creations of acquisitive people according to Daoism (Hu & Allen 10).

Confucianism describes how a people should relate to one another. The relationship between a master and his followers is clearly defined. In addition, the manner in which values are passed from one generation to another is also defined for the sake of maintaining order (Harwood 58).

On the other hand, Daoism encourages focus on individual development. It denounces any acquisitive moves made by the state or an individual. According to Daoism, every individual must understand oneself. Thus, the virtues of tradition and norms that are passed from one generation to another by ethical systems such as Confucianism are disruptive.

Scholars, who applied their knowledge of philosophy and political ethics to create a basis for a society, developed Confucianism. Rituals are important in Confucianism although the system it does not qualify to be considered a religion.

On the other hand, the founders of Daoism were skilled in art (Jixu 9). Thus, they focused on developing ways in which an individual could adapt to nature. This is the reason why martial arts are one of the core practices in strict Daoism.

When Confucianism was developed, it considered maintenance of order in the society to be supreme. Order had to be obtained through all means including use of force. Thus, for Confucianism everyone must behave in a certain ethical way or be compelled to do so by the system.

For this reason, Confucianism is regarded a tyrannical system based on belief by (Daoism Jixu 6). Confucianism encourages achievement through tedious effort and force given that the activities carried out to achieve a certain feat are done according to a certain defined ethical procedure (Harwood 60).

On the other hand, Daoism encourages use of minimum effort to achieve. Use of clever tactics is encouraged to avoid strain. Instead of trying to find a solution to the apparent problem, Daoism encourages people to investigate the cause of a problem and remove it. Thus, results are obtained trough minimum effort.

Confucianism focused on family, and it required people to observe rules within the family. Responsibilities of each member of the family are to be observed for the sake of prosperity of the society. These rules and responsibilities are to be observed by every member of the society regardless of rank or status. This way, human beings can dominate all other creatures and other aspects of creation.

In contrast, Daoism encourages people to isolate themselves physically and spiritually to individual confines. This explains the development of monasteries for monks who believed in Daoism. In addition, Daoism teaches that humans should be humble, and should consider themselves one of the lesser creations in the world. Inaction is noble according to Taoism. It encourages the use of least force to achieve any objective.

Since order is important to Confucianism, planning of activities is also a requirement for success. Every activity has to be carried out according to plan and at a definite predetermined moment. All ethics to be observed in performing a specific task are considered in the plan.

On the other hand, Daoism encourages spontaneous action. A person should react to the situation in the environment according to the nature of the present problem. One should avoid premeditated actions according to Daoism. Thus, in Daoism the difference between good and bad is ill defined. The nature of an action depends on the present circumstances.

Confucianism is considered a promoter of violence in some instances. It is the responsibility of the citizens to expand their territory and acquire wealth for it. To a Confucian, the state is the guardian of every individual, and should be protected (Slavicek 45).

On the other hand, Daoism encourages peace and respect for oneself. It is trough this belief that one is able to avoid war and destruction. In fact, the founders of Taoism referred to the masters of the state as robbers, due to their acquisitive preferences.

Finally, there is the Confucian belief that morals can be forced on an individual. Through training, teaching, or rule of law, good morals are maintained within individual actions and even within the larger society (Slavicek 54). This is an ethical practice adopted from traditional practices.

In contrast, Daoism maintains that there is no universal practice for any discipline. All actions should have an intrinsic motivation within the individual. The individual develops morals instantaneously as he or she goes about all activities in life according to Daoism.

Confucianism and Daoism present two complex realms of moral practice. Neither of the two can be describe as a religion. While Confucianism is an ethical system, Daoism is spiritualism that is not built around any belief in a deity. Followers of Confucius, the primary founder of Confucianism, tried to turn him into a form of a supernatural deity in quest for gratification that religion offers (Slavicek 57).

However, Confucius cautioned them against developing a baseless belief in a human deity. Due to Confucius’ insistence that he was not a deity, Confucianism lacked the religious aspect of a belief system. That is why Confucianism is purely an ethical system.

In contrast, Daoism incorporates spiritualism as part of its methods of finding solutions. Meditation is an important practice for Daoism, and is used to find solutions for problems, since every problem as its own unique solution. Although Daoism has a spiritual aspect, it does not qualify to be classified a religion due to the influence of craft and physical skills in its practice.

Thus, both Daoism and Confucianism are not religions. The two moral systems have one common goal, and that is prosperity of the people. However, their approaches to the issue are sharply antagonistic.

Works Cited

Brine, Rebecca. “Taoism and Ink Brush Painting.” philosophy of Taoism 1.4 (2011): 1-10. Print.

Harwood, Larry. “Sagely Wisdom in Confucianism.” Analytic Teaching and Philosophical Praxis 31.1 (2012): 56-62. Print.

Hu, Hsiao, and William Cully Allen.Taoism. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2005. Print.

Jixu, Zhou. “Confucius and Lao Zi: Their Differing Social Foundations and Cultures.” Sino-Platonic Papers 33.4 (2001): 2-17. Print.

Slavicek, Louise Chipley. Confucianism. San Diego, Calif.: Lucent Books, 2002. Print.

This Essay on Differences Between Confucianism and Daoism was written and submitted by user DannyRand 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.

DannyRand studied at the University of South Florida, USA, with average GPA 3.53 out of 4.0.

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DannyRand. (2019, June 17). Differences Between Confucianism and Daoism [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/differences-between-confucianism-and-daoism/

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DannyRand. "Differences Between Confucianism and Daoism." IvyPanda, 17 June 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/differences-between-confucianism-and-daoism/.

1. DannyRand. "Differences Between Confucianism and Daoism." IvyPanda (blog), June 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/differences-between-confucianism-and-daoism/.


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DannyRand. "Differences Between Confucianism and Daoism." IvyPanda (blog), June 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/differences-between-confucianism-and-daoism/.

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DannyRand. 2019. "Differences Between Confucianism and Daoism." IvyPanda (blog), June 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/differences-between-confucianism-and-daoism/.

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DannyRand. (2019) 'Differences Between Confucianism and Daoism'. IvyPanda, 17 June.

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