difference between taoism and confucianism responses to government
Vinegar Tasters is a common subject in traditional Chinese religious painting. It shows the Buddha, Confucius and Lao-Tse (aka Laozi, the author of Tao Te Ching) around a vat of vinegar. All three men have tasted the vinegar but react differently to it. Confucius finds it sour, Buddha finds it bitter and Lao-tse finds it sweet.
The painting is an allegory, describing the differences in the core philosophy of the three great teachers. Benjamin Hoff writes in The Tao of Pooh:
The central concept of tao describes a spiritual reality, the order of the universe, as being in harmony with the virtues of compassion and moderation. The ying-yang symbol and the concept of polar forces are central Taoist ideas (Smith 1991). Some scholars have compared this Chinese tradition to its Confucian counterpart by saying that “whereas Confucianism is concerned with day-to-day rules of conduct, Taoism is concerned with a more spiritual level of being” (Feng and English 1972).
Taoism has had a profound influence on Chinese culture in the course of the centuries, and Taoists (Chinese: 道士; pinyin: dàoshi, “masters of the Tao”), a title traditionally attributed only to the clergy and not to their lay followers, usually take care to note the distinction between their ritual tradition and the practices of Chinese folk religion and non-Taoist vernacular ritual orders, which are often mistakenly identified as pertaining to Taoism. Chinese alchemy (especially neidan), Chinese astrology, Chan (Zen) Buddhism, several martial arts, traditional Chinese medicine, feng shui, and many styles of qigong have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history.
A lover of antiquity, Confucius broadly attempted to revive the learning, cultural values, and ritual practices of the early Zhou kingdom (beginning in the 11th century BCE) as a means of morally renewing the violent and chaotic society of his day (that of the Spring and Autumn Period) and of promoting individual self-cultivation—the task of acquiring virtue (ren, or “humaneness”) and of becoming a moral exemplar (junzi, or “gentleman”). According to Confucius, all people, no matter their station, are capable of possessing ren, which is manifested when one’s social interactions demonstrate humaneness and benevolence toward others. Self-cultivated junzi possess ethical maturity and self-knowledge, attained through years of study, reflection, and practice; they are thus contrasted with petty people (xiaoren; literally “small person”), who are morally like children.
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.
“Women always have been fighting for a way out of the Confucian shadows.”
While these two philosophies may have been based on similar scriptures and promote ideas that are somehow in line with each other, there are strong contrasts on how they are founded and expressed especially when it comes to views regarding self, behavior, politics and religion. These notable differences are the reasons why others may consider Taoism and Confucianism polar opposites.
Once you have a long enough list of differences and similarities, go through it to select only the most relevant which you will include in your paper.
So, if it is an essay on Confucianism and Taoism, you would discuss the philosophy and ideas of Confucianism first. You’d tell about the origins, specific features, practices and beliefs.