confucius vs taoism
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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.
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Presented by: Guy Kiddey
Script by: Guy Kiddey
Directed by: Daniel Czepelczauer
Director of Photography: Markus Kretzschmar
Music: Markus Kretzschmar
Sound Design: Bojan Novic
Editing: Markus Kretzschmar
Confucianism entrenched itself in Chinese history and culture, becoming what sociologist Robert Bellah called a civil religion whereby “the sense of religious identity and common moral understanding is at the foundation of a society’s central institutions.”  Like Hinduism, Confucianism was part of the social fabric and way of life; to Confucians, everyday life was the arena of religion. Some religious scholars consider Confucianism more of a social system than a religion because it focuses on sharing wisdom about moral practices but doesn’t involve any type of specific worship; nor does it have formal holy objects.
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.
Confucianism and Taoism are both ancient Chinese styles of living. Confucianism believes in setting good examples for others to follow, primarily in 5 key relationships: ruler and subject, wife and husband, older and younger sibling, friend and friend, and father and son. Taoism (a.k.a., Daoism) focuses on living harmoniously; this is where the concept of yin and yang originates.
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:
Daoism and Confucianism arose as philosophical worldviews and ways of life. Unlike Confucianism, however, Daoism eventually developed into a self-conscious religion, with an organized doctrine, cultic practices, and institutional leadership. In part, because the doctrines of religious Daoism inevitably differed from the philosophy from which they arose, it became customary among later scholars to distinguish between the philosophical and the religious versions of Daoism, some taking the latter to represent a superstitious misinterpretation or adulteration of the original philosophy. That critical view, however, is now generally rejected as simplistic, and most contemporary scholars regard the philosophical and religious interpretations of Daoism as informing and mutually influencing each other.
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.