Daoism and Confucianism are the two most ancient schools in China. They do not bring any religious ideas, but their goal is to teach people live according to certain norms and rules. They control the life of people by providing information about peoples behavior in the society and at home. Both of these philosophical streams are often introduced as different, but they also have many in common.
The core issues of Confucianism are morality, ethics and activism. Philosophers of this stream encourage people to live in harmony with each other, be tolerant and show the mutual respect. The followers of Confucianism believe that there is no need to put many efforts on political changes or search for the best political system that can be trustworthy and honest to everybody. They stated that relationships between people are the key for the ideal social structure. If every individual of the society has its own place in life and obeys certain type of behavior, then there is no need to create a certain image of society because every person is a conscious and well-educated citizen. The followers of Confucianism try to find perfection in everything they do; they believe that there is only one way to become closer to the highest ideal, and it will help to disclose the inner world of perfection (Weyer, 2004).
Daoism has different goals, and its main goal is self-reflection and connection with cosmos. The followers of Daoism refuse problems, and they want to find harmony with nature. They have little care about the world as a global unit, and they are eager for understanding the inner nature of their world and the nature that surrounds them. The force that controls all the processes in the world is called Dao; there is no clear term that could explain what exactly Dao is, but it is often portrayed as a passive force that predetermines the philosophy of do without doing. Due to this system of philosophy, the best attempt to understand the way things are is to let them go as they do. Daoism predetermines the policy of nonintervention, and its followers believe that a person should not try to change things; he/she must observe but not interfere. This philosophy does not support the idea of existence of any government system except small communities.
Despite the fact that Daoism and Confucianism have a different perception of the world and role of human being, they still have many in common. For example, Daoism shares with Confucianism such issue as self-cultivation. Both systems of philosophy emphasize on a persons development as an individual. They have different methods, but their final target is the same. The main principle of these systems is to provide help to a human being in his/her search of enlightenment.
Confucianism asserts that the primary origin of a human being is humanity. Self-improvement is viewed as the process of learning to be humane, the development of the humane origin and the suppression of evil and savage behavior. The ideal of Confucianism is to be an honest man; it means to accept the Confucianisms teaching. The virtues of an honest man are justice, respect to elder people, social accountability and self-possession. The goal of Confucianism is to serve to the society; an individual should comply with social rules. This culture is elitist, and it is widespread among noble people who are, as a rule, statesmen and whose activity is connected with serving to society. Due to this fact, Confucianism tries to regulate all spheres of life, and thus, it is directed on self-improvement. The main virtue of an honest man is self-control and resistance to everything that is marked as wrong. To the concept of wrong, one may refer anything that is not viewed as a norm of behavior beginning with attitude to family and ending with social views.
On the other hand, Daoism condemns any demonstration of savage behavior, unrestraint and passion. The main goal of Daoism is the inner development and the connection with nature. Daoism is oriented on the individuals growth and the persons place in the world. This system of philosophy has no connection with social ideas, but it is still targeted on humanity and such virtues as honesty and goodness. However, the ideas of humanity are not limited by social standards because it comes out of nature. In this way, Daoism is even more humane than Confucianism because it predetermines the upbringing of the best human qualities that are not limited by any social rules or laws. Daoism does not accept the demonstration of negative emotions or passion because its followers believe that it ruins the individuals well-being and the person starts acting in an irrational manner (Fisher, 1997).
According to these facts, it can be said that Daoism and Confucianism have the same background. Their primary goal is the upbringing the principles of morality among the followers of these systems of philosophy. Both of them are oriented on the development of person as an individual; the only difference is that Confucianism pays especial attention to the persons behavior in the society while Daoism accents on the development of a human being in the concept of nature but not as a social individual.
Both systems value such virtues as honesty and goodness and respect towards other people. These concepts are fundamental in teachings that they provide. A person and his/her role is the central concept of Confucianism and Daoism; they have a bit different methods of establishing this concept, but the final goal is the same, and it is to create an image of an individual who will support the supreme ideas of morality. Many world religions have always been trying to raise these qualities, but they had little success. Daoism and Confucianism did not propagandize any religions ideas, they do not raise the issues of god and the supernatural force, but both of them touch upon the subject of a persons place in this world. However, it has been always raised in terms of self-analysis but not theolatry. The exception of religions motives makes these systems absolutely new ones. They are oriented on a person and his/her inner thoughts, behavior and well-being. According to Daoism and Confucianism, the primary goal of life is to understand personal existence and role in the world. A person should obey certain rules of life to realize it; there is a special codex that could help him/her in this mission (Tang, 1991).
The key issue of Daoism and Confucianism is an individual and all aspects that are connected with the development and well-being of the individual in the world. The systems idea is to create an image of a person that could be viewed as a perfect one. In Confucianism, persons perfection is viewed in terms of being a model citizen while in Daoism, a perfect person is the one who could live in a harmony with law of nature. Self-improvement and obeying the moral principles is the only way to understand the inner world and the world that is around. If a person could understand himself/herself, then he/she could realize his/her place in this life. The most important issue is an individual in the society and in the nature.
In conclusion, Daoism and Confucianism are two philosophy systems that are oriented on person development. The systems have various approaches, and they introduce different teachings, but in the background of their origin, there is the same issue. This issue concerns creating a codex of morality and certain rules that people should obey in order to make them conscious citizens who are able to bring benefits to the society and to the world. The methods of improvement and searching of supreme goal in life are the basic principles of these systems. Despite opposite methods and teaching, Daoism and Confucianism are targeted at upbringing the best virtues of human nature. They propagandize the similar perception of human values. Thus, one can state that a role of an individual is observed as a dominant in both philosophical systems.
Daoism and Confucianism strive to demonstrate the concept of a perfect person who is the exemplary citizen and could live in harmony with nature. There is inner equilibrium that guarantees self-realization and development in the right direction that is introduced by both philosophy systems. In other words, Daoism and Confucianism are more than religions because they do not raise the issues concerning human existence and they do not give an exact answer on the people perception of the world. They are aimed at helping people understand themselves and teach them how live a life that would be correct from the universal point of view.
Weyer, R. (2004). 366 Readings from Taoism and Confucianism. Mumbai: Jaico Publishing House.
Tang, Y. (1991). Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity and Chinese culture. Peking: Council for Research in Values and Philosophy.
Fisher, M.P. (1997). Living religions: an encyclopedia of the world’s faiths. London: I.B. Tauris.