Confucianism And Taoism: The Shaping Philosophies Of China

2489 words - 10 pages

PHILOSOPHY IN CHINACONFUCIANISM AND TAOISMEastern society is an enigma to many Westerners. Its cultural and technical traditions vary so greatly from those of western thought. What influences shaped China, the largest eastern civilization? It is said that the basis of western thought stems from the ideas and principles set out by Socrates and Plato and their contemporaries. In a similar vein it can be said that Confucian and Taoist principles are the basis of eastern thinking. It may not be so evident today, as technology shrinks our world, and western thought, carried on the back of commerce, invades the east, but Confucianism and Taoism are the two principle philosophies that shaped ancient and dynastic China, both culturally and politically.Confucianism was based on the writings and teachings of Confucius or K'ung-fu-tzu (551BCE-479BCE) , from whom it derives its name. Confucius lived in what is known as the Spring-and-Autumn period in China (722 BCE- 481BCE) . The Spring-and-Autumn period took place when the Zhou dynasty was diminishing in power. Aristocratic family-states established themselves in walled cities and began vying for power militarily and diplomatically . In this chaotic time with hundreds of competing armies on the loose all over China, many different philosophers and schools of philosophy established themselves, in the hopes of establishing peace and order. Many people yearned back for a golden age when legend had it that China had been at peace under one ruler . Confucius was one of these philosophers, although his teachings did not immediately quell the violence, they became important later on.Confucius believed that social interactions could be modelled on a series of a few simple relationships based on the family . These relationships generally consisted of one dominant party and one servile party, for instance father-son, husband-wife, or master-servant . Confucius taught that if people would simply hold themselves in these roles and not deviate from the protocols of the different relationships then a stable society could be attained . He taught that a son could not murder his father because respect for your father is intrinsic to the role of a son. So if a man murdered his father he was not in fact his son because he was stepping outside the defined bounds of being a son. Therefore if people simply remained within the defined bounds of their relationships with others, chaos could be averted. Confucius' philosophy was very moralistic, so the dominant party in a relationship is not without bounds or responsibilities. In the same way that if a son does not respect his father he is no longer his son, if a father does not always keep his son's best interests in mind and care for his son, then he is stepping outside the bounds of his role as a father. As John Fairbank very adeptly explained, in China A New History:Confucius had said rather succinctly,"jun jun chen chen fu fu zi zi," whichin its context meant "Let the ruler...

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