Confucianism And Taoism: A Comparative Analysis

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At first sight, the competing philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism seem to be the opposites of each other. However as spiritual and social forces, they have coexisted for centuries in China, even spreading to neighboring regions. They represent different codes of behavior and ways of thinking, however, upon closer inspection, they resemble similar methods of human thinking in a way that a person can encompass both religious traditions. Confucianism and Taoism differ in their primary focus. Confucianism’s focus is on the social stance and everyday life of a person. Confucius, the proponent of Confucianism, mentions that humans are inherently social creatures that have the capacity of goodness, and if followed, it leads to greater social…show more content…
Confucius gives strict instructions regarding filial piety. People should never disobey their parents and should remain filial to them even after their deaths. On the other hand, Lao Tzu states that “when there is no peace within the family, filial piety begins”. This may seem contradictory however, they share very similar ideas.
The Confucian perceptive places great emphasis on filial piety. Parents must be filial to their children, and children must be filial to their parents. Every family member has a filial duty towards the members of his family. Filial piety exists between all beings and is reciprocal in nature. Therefore, to deliberately practice filial reciprocity would be going against its true nature. It must be expressed freely for it to be understood and truly realized.
From the Taoist perspective, if one practices their filial duty after a conflict has occurred in the family, then they are not truly being filial. It only implies an action to resolve a situation – action which is not coming from the heart. If filial piety is expressed naturally, conflict would not arise in the first place. To simplify, filial piety ought to exist naturally, for its true nature to be understood. This is where the principle of non-action (wu wei) comes in
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However, the first step is self-realization: recognizing yourself and your potential. Confucius believed that you must know yourself before you can know anything else in the world. Then you must educate yourself and know exactly how you fit into the world around. The key to Confucian knowledge is for the learning and thought processes to work together. In Taoism, too, it is self-education. You try to understand the whole; the Tao, rather than know each separate piece. The heart of Taoist education is the understanding of things. This goes about through self-education. It is also a natural process which only needs to be addressed as such and developed to the fullest. Self-realization is an important element in both philosophies, and knowing how one fits into the world. This alone is an important form of education; self-education. Therefore, it appears that Confucianism and Taoism regard education in very similar ways. It is granted that Confucianism and Taoism are entirely different systems, however at a closer look, we realize that they have as many similarities as differences. The two philosophies share concepts such as filial piety and education, which reside at the heart of these traditions, as well as contradict each other in their primary focus and methodology of passing on their

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