Amidst the chaos of political instability and constant warring of the Zhou era, arose many intellectual thinkers that brought such a profound impact in the fields of politics, religion, and philosophy. Even to this day, their influence can be seen on the many matters of China.
Confucianism became the paramount school of thinking and later significant philosophies such as Daoism and Legalism gained immense recognition as well. Each party had their own proposals for creating an idealistic political society where the many problems they faced in their everyday lives could be eliminated. All three approaches were very distinct but at the same time, they contained similarities as well. In my reasoning, I find that Confucianism and Daoism could be paralled in many ways to find several common grounds.
On the other hand, Legalism goes on to take a more unique approach which was much different from the previous two. Confucius was born in 551 B. C. E, to a poor family of the lower nobility. Throughout his life, he relentlessly tried to gain an office with a prominent ruler of the time who was willing to adopt his various concepts. Unfortunately, Confucius died in 479B.
C. E. , before such a change ever took place. However, he succeeded in winning over a handful of devote followers who continued his legacy and Confucianism later went on to become one of the most influential thought systems of Chinese history. Of his followers, Mencius and Xunzi became one of the most renown. Since Confucius did not succeed in completing a manual of his views, these followers had to derive their own interpretations of the system, which now formulate, the Analects.
The Analects portray an idealized gentleman, and his various duties in terms of the society, family and rituals. Confucius explains about the way (Dao) which he believed, that if the people accepted it’s terms and were willing to abide, they would succeed in creating a utopian society. By the beginning of the Common Era, another philosophy emerges and gains wide acceptance among the commoners. Daoism, just like the predecessor and also as the name implies, puts emphasis on “the way” that a certain individual is to abide to. Even though the two systems had different concepts about the way, the common denominator of both schools was to achieve total harmony in society.
Confucianism focuses mainly on social order while Daoism puts it’s central; focus on being one with the nature. “If an individual can practice five things anywhere in the world, he is a man of humanity. . .
reverence, generosity, truthfulness, diligence and kindness” (Ebrey 19). Confucius’ gentleman has to possess these fine qualities to achieve success. On the other side of the token, Daoism emphasized the need for similar entities. Laozi explains: “For minds, the depth is good. In social relations, human-heartedness is good.
In speaking, the trustworthiness is good. In government order is good” (Ebrey 28). Both systems, through through different approaches, promote peace and goodwill among the family, society and with neighboring states. Both Confucianism and Daoism accept the presence of a supernatural entity but do not provide a clear explanation on it.
Both thought systems consider it mostly as a mystery that the human mind cannot fully comprehend or alter. Confucius put great importance in conducting numerous rituals for various occasions. He found it to be an essential part for the well being of society. He said, “when superiors love ritual, the people are easy to direct” (Ebrey 22).
Xunzi provides a more elaborate explanation. He said “Ritual conduct is the perfection of decorum. . . Sages comprehend it, gentleman comfortably carries them out, officials preserves them and the common people consider them custom” (Ebrey 25). The same sense of mystery or vagueness can be sensed in Daoism.
Laozi said, “The way that can be discussed is not the constant way. . . nameless is the source of Heaven and earth. . .
Their identity can be called a mystery” (Ebrey 27). Both Confucianism and Daoism disfavored a harsh government. Confucius urged to lead the people with virtue and rituals as opposed to government policies and punishment. He believed that the ruler should gain respect through his deeds rather that achieving it through his status and authority.
Likewise, Daoism disliked the emphasis of status being displayed in .