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Compare, Contrast and Evaluate Confucianism and Taoism.

Original Student Inquiry:

"Compare any two Eastern philosophies. Take sides, determine which philosophies are most persuasive and explain why."

Chose to compare Confucianism and Taoism.

Solution Preview

Comparing Confucianism and Taoism:

These two philosophical traditions are the two predominant ancient spiritual philosophies in China. They have some similarities but also many differences.

Both traditions teach that excessive egotism is negative and hinders the development of an individual, however they differ in how they focus on selfishness. Confucianism focuses on social relationships while Taoism tends to be more concerned with one's inner or spiritual state. Confucianism sees society and social life as the sphere of existence most meaningful to mankind, while Taoism see the most important relationship an individual has with the Tao- the essence or ultimate reality behind all of existence. The Taoist tradition more seeks understanding of reality (which will naturally lead to correct behaviour), while Confucianism is almost exclusively concerned with harmonious and contented relationships between people.

Both traditions do aim towards individual self-improvement through study. They differ in their approach however. Confucian teaching tends to be a more Socratic and oral (i.e. dialogue, debate), while Taoism emphasizes the holistic study of the written works of great thinkers as a more meaningful approach.

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Solution Summary

Approximately 750 words and 12 paragraphs in length.

Detailed comparison of Confucian and Taoist philosophies. Comparison of general ethical, metaphysical and epistemological outlooks of the two philosophical/spiritual traditions.

Detailed critical evaluation of which of the two philosophies presents a more persuasive and complete worldview. The author attempts to evaluate which of the two philosophical systems is more convincing to a contemporary 'Western' sensibility.

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