chinese confucius daoism influence on east and and ancient greek philosophy influenced western
In Plato’s Meno, Socrates praises a slave who knows geometry although he has never been taught it. Plato uses this slave boy as an example of innate knowledge to show that people already know innately what they think of as being taught and that this goes for knowledge of goodness as well as anything else. Just as a child knows when it is hungry, a person knows how to be good. Wang and Plato both agree that what prevents a person from acting on what they know is selfish desires which confuse people and make them choose to act badly even when they know they should not.
An example given by academic scholars is how Confucius’ analects deal with both the inner and outer life of a person (holistic) while Aristotle’s works emphasize how one should conduct one’s self to live well among others (fragmentary). Mo-Ti, some claim, aims at a holistic understanding of one’s self and one’s surroundings while a western philosopher like Plato emphasizes specific goals one should strive for in discovering what is true and real in life.
Generally speaking, whereas Daoism embraces nature and what is natural and spontaneous in human experience, even to the point of dismissing much of China’s advanced culture, learning, and morality, Confucianism regards human social institutions—including the family, the school, the community, and the state—as essential to human flourishing and moral excellence, because they are the only realm in which those achievements, as Confucius conceived them, are possible.
The two great indigenous philosophical and religious traditions of China, Daoism and Confucianism, originated about the same time (6th–5th century BCE) in what are now the neighboring eastern Chinese provinces of Henan and Shandong, respectively. Both traditions have permeated Chinese culture for some 2,500 years. Both are associated with an individual founder, though in the case of Daoism the figure, Laozi (flourished 6th century BCE), is extremely obscure, and some aspects of his traditional biography are almost certainly legendary. A conventional but unlikely story has it that Laozi and Confucius (551–479 BCE), the founder of Confucianism, once met and that the former (older) philosopher was not impressed. Be that as it may, their respective traditions share many of the same ideas (about humanity, society, the ruler, heaven, and the universe), and, over the course of millennia, they have influenced and borrowed from each other. Even since the end of the dynastic period (1911) and the establishment of the communist People’s Republic (1949), which was often violently hostile to religion, the influence of both Daoism and Confucianism in Chinese culture remains strong.
Lao-Tze brought Tao into some form of god seeking the mystic. Taoists sought happiness or supreme good by severing themselves completely free from worldly interests and passionate desires until release from all activity was attained (wu wei or vo vi in Vietnamese). The important Taoist principles are inaction, simplicity and living in harmony with nature. Taoist philosophical principle rested on a belief in the law of unity of the two opposite forces: yin and yang. If one tried too hard to attain a certain want, the law of reverted effort would start to operate and as a result, the effect would be the exact opposite of that desired. Governance was an example given; according to Lao-tze: “governing a large state is like boiling a small fish” (Tao Te Ching). If one boils ‘a small fish’, one need not remove its inside organs nor stir it but simply cook it gently over a little heat. The metaphor ‘governing a large state is like boiling a small fish’ is itself open to interpretation but the author believes that the rulers of China and Vietnam are still greatly influenced by Taoism in the way they govern.
An widening economic divide which cannot be closed just by rhetoric.
During the Neo-Daoist and Buddhist period (third–ninth century C.E.), there was a concentration on metaphysical concepts. Going beyond Lao-tzu’s characterization of Tao as Nonbeing, the Neo-Daoists questioned whether Ultimate Reality was Being or Nonbeing, and whether the principle (li) underlying a thing was universal or particular. Under the influence of Neo-Daoism, early Chinese Buddhist philosophers directed their attention chiefly to Being and Nonbeing. Buddhist schools introduced from India were divided into corresponding categories, schools of Being and schools of Nonbeing. The question of universality and particularity, or of one and many, led to the development of truly Chinese Buddhist schools, whose concern was the relationship between principle, which combines all things as one, and facts, which differentiate things into the many.
The origins of Chinese philosophy are often traced back to the I Ching (the Book of Changes,) an ancient compendium of divination said to date to c. 2800 B.C.E., which introduced some of the most fundamental terms of Chinese philosophy. It was not until Zhou Gong Dang (c. 1122 B.C.E.), the brother of King Wu of Zhou, clarified the significance of the horizontal lines in each hexagrams of the I Ching that its full context was understood. The principles of the I Ching heavily influenced the government administration and the literature of the Zhou Dynasty.
11. Translation is my own.
4. Chenshilun: ‘As the sūtra says, “all the wonderful words in the world come from my (Buddha) teaching”’ (CBETA, 2011, T32, no. 1646, p. 244, c26–27). Dazhidulun: ‘Furthermore, in the Shitihuanying dedao jing (Śakradevendrābhisaṃbodhi sūtra), the Buddha said to Jiao shi jia (Kauśika): “The truths (satya), good words (subhāṣita), words that are skilful and well spoken, spread throughout the world, all constitute my doctrine”’ (CBETA, 2011 CBETA. (2011). Chinese Buddhist electronic Tripitaka association DVD. Taipei. [Google Scholar] , T25, no. 1509, p. 66, b7–8).