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Chinese Philosophy

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Chinese Philosophy


            Numerous studies of social setups of various cultures have been carried out during many decades. These studies are essentially what forms various philosophies in social living and structure. Chinese culture is a significant culture in the world. Chinese people have a unique way of living and associating, which became an important subject in contemporary research. In their society, Chinese people rely on concepts that govern their interaction and relationships. Chinese philosophy is a broad area of research that has attracted a lot of interest from various groups of people.   

            This paper studies the aspect of Daodejing living and its application in philosophy. Daoist group has its unique approach to handling societal issues. The purpose of this paper is to provide more insight about Chinese philosophy, precisely Daoism. This research paper aims to increase understanding on the subject. The information that was used in the project was obtained from secondary sources. These sources included books and articles that had information related to the topic. These sources provided crucial information that formed the discussion.

            When looking at effectiveness of Daoism in a real setup, there seems to be little substantial reasoning. Concepts that are central for this approach work to criticize other methods and do not cater for the solution or way forward. The paper discusses why this approach of Chinese philosophy also offers its own solution but strives to question and evaluate other methods. In the argument various examples are used to support the arguments made in the paper.

Daoism in Chinese Culture

            In is important to define Daoism. This definition is especially important to understand the subject. Dao is a totality of particulars. It is relations that are formed among them as well as respective functions and roles of every particular in the whole group. On the other hand, De is uniqueness of each particular, which results from an interdependence of the particular with others (Chichester 2012). It also relates to the position of the particular in the whole.

            Two aspects form a crucial element in offering adequate support the ethical holism, which is against sacrificing individuals for the purpose of the group. Stability and integrity of the group or of the whole are vital aspects, which are considered critical in the society. Their significance results from the whole being an end-in-itself. It comes from ensuring that individual parts are preserved in these conditions (Chichester 2012). This is to say that this ethical holism does not present wholes and individuals in terms that can be considered mutually exclusive.

            Ethical holism views individuals and wholes in a symbiotic association. The result of this relation is production of events that benefit both: the whole and by individuals. This is a form of mutual benefit, which results from concepts in ethical holism.

            Daoist concepts are divided into two types: ziran and wuwei, which stand for spontaneity and non-action respectively. These concepts are critical in supporting construction of holism in Chinese society (Yang 2012). When particular individuals' distinctiveness is valued, reductive norms or unilateral norms that work to obliterate this individuality are not appropriated. It, therefore, follows that wuwei's concept has got a methodology that allows spontaneous development of individuals in association with others. This view in holism suggests that individuals realize and manifest integrity they have in relation to others in an environmental context. It is designed to achieve a result that is fully co-possible within the limits. This is instead of a result that only caster for achievements of some individuals and disregards others. The idea of individual interests is not applicable in this concept. The factor of working for realization of conditions for the benefit of every party is primary in this philosophy.

            In Daoism, artificiality and society are opposed since it encourages spontaneity. This concept is a rival of Chinese tradition in Confucianism (Yang 2012). After Confucianism was taken up as Han dynasty's official ideology, Daoism was continuously transmitted together with official teaching. Gradually, it transformed into religion. Introduction of Buddhism in China led to popularity of Daoism as it adopted a lot of ideas from Buddhism. The fact that it adopted ideas form Buddhism made the teaching become popular and convenient for many people. During that time, the ideas of Daoism were quickly spreading to other art and literary works. In spite of a decline in religious popularity of Daoism, it is non-debatable that many individuals still are followers of Daoism, which influences them.

            The basic meaning to the term "Dao" or "Tao" is a "way" or "road" that someone or something follows. The word was later altered to mean a "principle" or "method" and ended up as reality. This was the result of many research activities conducted in the field of Chinese philosophy. The word Tao takes up a meaning that is metaphysical in nature. In Daoism, Dao represents an absolute being. This principle is the first of this kind, it is nameless, eternal, all embracing, all pervading, and formless. It can be compared to a garment that is designed to cover many things and works to unite them. It does not take ownership or mastery of any of these things.

             The reasoning behind this ideology is that it is only through Daoism that everything comes to being. Daoism does not directly cause this to happen, but it is the channel for this realization. The concept in this tradition is that all events that occur do so out of spontaneity and not purpose. It accomplishes results out of spontaneity and does not believe in purpose. This was the first principle for everything that occurred in the world. Dao gives Oneness, which then produces duality. Duality is concerned 'ying' and 'yang', thereafter, duality leads to trinity. In trinity, 'ying' and 'yang', together with the harm they produce in their interactions are the key aspects. Trinity, on the other hand, results into an infinite number of things.

            Daoists believe in this cosmos. They even base their theory on this cosmology, thus it forms entire application of Daoism. Confucianism emphasizes sustaining a social order by way of diligent duties for individuals. This method is designed to use individuals and their effort to maintain their social lifestyle. Contrary to this, Daoism stresses that all individuals should live in accordance to Dao.

            It argues that the origin of man is not based on the society but on nature. The reasoning is that there is a series of standards that prompt the occurrence of others. Where, the earth is man's standard, heaven's standard is said to be the earth, and Tao is heaven's standard. The process reaches Tao since a standard for Tao is spontaneity. The main goal in this ideology is to achieve a state that is suitable for living. This is unity of nature and man. Achieving Oneness of nature and man is called “Tian Ren He Yi”. It is the desire of every Daoist. It is declared the top most state in human life and is the ideal state for all beings.

            In this view, men unite themselves with nature, thus forming Oneness. Nature does not have its limits in a form of a beginning or an end, thus man too has no limits. The universe is declared eternal in Daoism. This means that man, by extension, is also eternal. After reaching this state, one is declared a True Man, which is locally called Zhen Ren.

            The True Man is a happy individual, who benefits from freedom that is defined by his own limits. He is obliged to follow his own nature that is spontaneous. He does not meet any type of bondage. Looking at his beliefs, it is vivid that he has no love for life nor hate for death. It is considered that in his living, he possessed no type of elation and died with no resistance. The idea is that all beings came unconsciously and leave in a similar manner. They live life without choosing to forget their past or opting for the future. They take life with an attitude of no questioning. They receive all that cames with delight.

            The basis for this ideology is that nature should not be supplemented with man. The True Man in this tradition does not have any desires for worldly characteristics in wealth or social status. Instead, Daoists opt to live without putting restrictions in their lives. They believe in a society that does not have universal restrictions for its members. The method promises harmony in a society after the Oneness of both man and nature has been achieved.

            Contrary to Daoism, Confucianism argues that social harmony in the society is attained by following ways of morality, education, politics, and other arts belonging to man. Through the use of spontaneity, the society is said to achieve harmony and peaceful co-existence. The controversy behind the way of achieving harmony in a society for the two traditions claims that the harmony in a society is destroyed by Confucianism, hence incapable of creating order for the society. Lao Zi, a philosopher in the study of Chinese ideology, claimed that sustaining order for a society in Confucianism is difficult as people in top positions cause interference. This is why people in a society cannot be put in order because of their own undoing. He also added that when the world is filled with prohibitions and restrictions, people become poor. He also argued that having many laws in a region increases a number of criminal activities in this region.

            The most suitable way of ruling is by ridding all traditional virtues in human-heartedness (Ren) and laws and righteousness (Qing 1998). The governing law should always be inclined to act by way of non-activity. The notion in this non-activity is that there is allowance to do anything. In this scenario, there are no laws or violations in the society and everyone acts on their own desires. The viewpoints on society for the two concepts are clearly contradictory, hence each ideology views another as impractical. Daoism considers Confucianism as a grumbling and grievance directed towards individuals. It proposes the idea of every individual in society detaching their attitude towards human life and society. The main concept of this lifestyle is not to engage in society, but rather to live in it. All individuals should retain their being in spite of the overwhelming worldly life.

            The ideology does not propose a life in solitude and seclusion, but it encourages living in a society without engaging in the affairs of the world. This type of life only detaches from the world while playing with life. It does not provide solutions that are aimed to escape facing the world. For instance, they do not suffer or have pain as there is nothing that can make them sorrowful. The example is a procedure of taking an injection, The normal reaction would be pain, but Daoists relate pain to a situation that is funny thus they harness the feeling to substitute pain (Qing 1998).

            The tradition in Daoism is fully equipped with unique qualities that promise an ideal society. Its rivals, like Confucianism and Buddhism, do not compare to its popularity in Chinese ideologies. Many individuals consider this ideology practical and adopted the tradition. These Daoists do not cherish social stratification and they have no duties in these areas. They practice a type of freedom that is defined by nature. The idea of having a society that does not have restrictions but absolute freedom is not achievable in the world setting. It is believed that for there to be freedom in a society, there has to be freedom that is called a right (Adams 2011). Application of Daoism does not offer these rights, but the individual trains the mind and body for the conditions. This means that they are free from their needs and desires.

            In spite of Daoism reaching the society as a challenge for Confucianism, it had a poor establishment (Adams 2011). The ideology was incompetent and weak that it did not achieve its purpose but instead assisted the ruler. Comments from Lao claim that people are ruled by the Sage by way of filling their bellies, weakening their wills, toughening their sinews, and emptying their minds. They always worked to deny desires and knowledge to the people. The significance of a society that is simple is definitely easy to be ruled.


            Three ancient traditions of the Chinese, involving Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daosim, worked to complement one another. They were made up of an organic whole called the Trinity of Three Teachings. This system was responsible for ruling China for a period of approximately two thousand years. The ideology in Confucianism is based on the society having a basic unit that is a family. Contrary to this, Buddhism and Doaism focus on the individual. Every being in the society for Confucianism takes up a number of duties, while individuals pursue their personal goals. For Buddhism, the aspect of suffering is extracted from individuals. Daosim encourages a spontaneous life that is in accordance to nature. Both Buddhism and Daoism have a common element in evading duties. This led to a coincidental creation of the balance between irresponsibility and responsibility. The society in return benefited from the balance as it promoted development in society.

            It is clear from the discussion that the ideology in Daosim is self-sufficient in offering a solution. The tradition is keen to criticize various aspects of Chinese culture but it counters with a more suitable approach. The ideas in Daoism are in a middle of two extremes. Buddhism has a negative perception of life, while Confucianism takes life positively and encourages participation (Von 2012). Traditions are lightly related or share a certain aspect, thus it is quite difficult to determine if someone has fully achieved their social being.

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