After reading Michael Puett’s book, I would like to compare Kong zi and Lao zi by reading Chapter 3 and Chapter 5 in the book. First, let’s talk about Kong zi. Kong zi as a creator of Confucianism, established the image of a master of morality (in an ethical sense) with a perfect moral personality and full of ideal. According to Puett’s though in the book, Kong zi focus more on people’s relationship, feeling, and the different roles of people in our society.
At the beginning of Chapter 3, Puett gives an example of an adult playing hide-and-seek with a child, according to this example, adults may not feel how’s the child feel, but if they switch their role, adults can start to feel what’s the feeling of the child, it shows that people can see the world differently by changing their normal roles; In addition, people will act differently or I should say they will do something new that they never do before, like Puett said : “When we travel, breaking from our everyday routine can allow us to develop new sides of ourselves.” (Page 56, Third Paragraph first sentence, Large Print Edition, Hard Cover)
Lao zi, the creator of Daoism, His thought also has a profound influence on the development of Chinese philosophy; However, his though is different from Kong zi. The Daoism is basically all about the Way, and Lao zi believes in Way. According to Puett, at the beginning of Chapter 5, he let us to imagine walking through the forest, even though human being living in the same planet with trees, flowers or grass in the forest, but everything in the forest seems nothing to do with us. Lao zi doesn’t believe it, he believes everything in this world are connected, no matter what it is, the more we connected to this world, the more we get closer to the Way, like Puett said: “The more we see the world as differentiated, the more removed we become form the Way”(Page 125, First Paragraph first sentence, Large Edition, Hard Cover)
In my conclusion, I think Kong zi believes in benevolence of mankind, he believes people can be good or bad by changing, everything is changeable, and he cites the importance of people being goodness, Confucianism believes that human nature can be good or evil since you just born. And Lao zi believes everything comes naturally, there is no good or bad, and we should just follow it, and this can be understood as the Way that the Daoism talks about.
I would like to talk about Kong zi, and I think Kong zi though can help us to become a better person and lead a better life. According to Michael Puett’s book, Kong zi focus more on people’s relationship and feeling, this can help shape us to become a better person. Unlike Lao zi though, Lao zi think everything comes naturally, we can’t change, and we should just follow the Way naturally. That’s the reason I disagree with Lao zi, because I believe people are changeable, everyone gets a chance to change themselves, no matter is a good person transform to a bad person, or a bad person transform to a good person.
In my opinion, Kong zi have a good understanding of the importance of being goodness, and he positions the premise of human nature on the basis of goodness. As a civilized existence, human beings are always within the social group, and he always wants to put people in interrelated social groups.
Like Michael Puett’s example of Confucianism in the book, an adult was playing hide-and-seek with a 4 years old little girl, this example shows that the exchange of people’s role helps individual have a new understanding of other people, which means you can feel another people’s feeling. Once you can feel how’s other people feel, you start to change, you will start trying to become a good person, that other people feel comfortable staying with you. This can not only help you to become a better person, but also help to create a peaceful society and lead us to a better life.
Everyone can be goodness, but everyone has a different “Level” of being goodness, because people’s character is different, so it recognizes that everyone has different “Level” of goodness; However, goodness still appears in every people’s mind, but not everyone can “activate” their goodness in their mind. That’s my understanding of Confucianism by reading Puett’s book.