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Confucianism, Legalism, and Daoism

Explains the ancient philosophies of Confucianism, Legalism, and Daoism.

 Confucianism:

Confucianism was derived from the philosophy that the brilliant scholar Confucius developed. His philosophy concerned worldly goals and ideas that would insure social order and good government. Confucius taught that it was important for people to accept their place in society. He emphasized five main relationships: father to son, elder brother to younger brother, husband to wife, ruler to subject, friend to friend. According to Confucius, everyone had duties and responsibilities and proper behavior would bring order and stability. Confucius thought that filial duty, or respect for parents, was more important than any of the other duties. When it came to government, Confucius said that a ruler had the responsibility to provide good government; in return, the people should be respectful and loyal subjects.

 

Legalism: 

 

The philosophy of Legalism came from the teachings of Hanfeizi. According to Hanfeizi, “The nature of man is evil. His goodness is acquired.” He said that greed was the reason for most actions and the cause of most conflicts. Hanfeizi claimed that the only way to achieve order was to pass strict laws and enforce harsh punishments. His teachings became known as Legalism because of his emphasis on law. Legalists though that strength, not goodness, was a ruler’s greatest quality. Many ancient rulers chose Legalism as the most effective way to keep order, but the laws were so cruel that later generations despised it, although it survived in some laws.

 

Daoism:

 

The founder of Daoism was known as Laozi or “Old Master”. Daoism was not concerned with bringing order to human affairs; Instead, Daoists wanted to live in harmony with nature. Laozi looked beyond every day cares to focus on the Dao, or “the way” of the universe. Daoists wanted to end conflict between human desires and the simple ways of nature. Many Daoists turned from the “unnatural” ways of society. They viewed government as unnatural and the reason for many problems. To Daoists, the best government was one that governed the least. Daoism became a popular religion with gods, goddesses, and magical practices that were still based upon Laozi’s teachings. Daoists work contributed to science and medicine as they did experiments and tried to find substances that would give them immortality.

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