Daoism and Confucian’s Philosophy 

What are the two philosophies and religions influenced in ancient China? Confucianism and Daoism are two influential schools of thoughts that have existed in ancient China around the 6th century BCE. The former is led by the politician and philosopher Confucius. Confucius proposed that human beings live in society according to a set of predetermined rules and change society through political actions. The latter, led by the philosopher Laozi, advocates the concept of inaction; people should go with the flow instead of taking action to control their own lives and control their surroundings. “The central tenets of Daoism are concerned with the understanding and proper practice of the Dao “Way”. Daoist art and though can be separated into two distinct, though occasionally intertwined traditions: the naturalistic and the magical. This paper will describe the Confucianism and Daoism seem to be two opposing philosophies, a more in depth analysis of two of their key ideas- filial piety, education, and the architecture in garden, courtyard, and temple.

Both Confucianism and Daoism seem to have opposing views about filial piety. Filial piety in Chinese called as “Xiao”. In the Analects, Confucianism, the greater Confucian master Kongfuzi said, “A young man should serve his parents at home and be respectful to elders outside his home.” The basic for personal ethical behavior and social harmony, obedience, dedication, concern for the attitudes of parents and family member. Confucius not only requires people to serve their parents, but also respects them. Confucius regards filial piety as a moral norm, and regards it as the basis of “Ren”, which is mean “humanity”, and it is the cultivation love of other people of Confucian moral ideal. The “Xiao” is not a simple word about obedience but rather deference, and on occasion it even entails remonstrance or gentle admonition. “He also described the importance of “Xiao” for family harmony and social political stability, and promoted its practice by reemphasizing rituals and behaviors associated with it.”

In the Daodejing, Daoism, the great Daoist master Laozi said, “when family relations no longer harmonize, we have filial piety and paternal devotion.” As Laozi, explanation for this statement is that filial piety cannot exist without family conflicts. Which is the opposite of Confucius’ view and it seemed like a contradiction about filial piety of two philosophies

Confucianism probably is the biggest influence in education of China throughout the entire Chinese history. Kongfuzi is the greater educator in China. A public education system was established in the late Han Dynasty. “Not only elites from the upper-class families can learn at school, but common people can also use education as a path to become a better man, known as a gentleman.”

The goal of Confucius is to train gentlemen who speak generously, speak correctly, and show integrity in everything. He strongly dislikes the sly “petty men,” who have won their audience in their clever conversations and pretentious ways, which is reflected in numerous “Lunyu” as Analects passages. Confucius finds himself in an era in which values are out of joint. Actions and behavior no longer correspond to the labels that were originally attached to them. He observes “Rulers do not rule and subjects do not serve,” which is mean that words and titles no longer represent what they have done.

Moral education is very important to Confucius because it is how people can correct their situation and restore the meaning of language and values to society. He believes that the most important lessons for obtaining is the moral education which can be found in the classic “Book of Songs” because many of the poems are beautiful and kind. Therefore, Confucius puts the text in his curriculum and often quotes and explains the lines of verse. For this reason, the Lunyu is also an important source for Confucius to understand the more common role of poetry and art in the moral education of gentlemen as well as in the reformation of society. “The archaeological discovers of ancient Chinese manuscripts recently revealed the other aspects of Confucius’s reverence for the “Book of Songs” and it’s important in moral education.” These manuscripts show that “Confucius had found in the normative text valuable lessons on how to develop moral qualities in themselves and how to express themselves humanely and responsibly in public.”

Daoist did not believe that learning was important for individual development; “in fact, the texts of Daoism make it clear learning was considered dangerous, corrupting, and otherwise useless to the pursuit of the Dao.” The Taoists was adamantly opposed the book learning. According to passages in their books, an ideal state is one in which, “There are no books; the people have no use for them.” “Maintaining one’s natural state, even if that natural state meant ignorance which was what the Taoists strived to accomplish.”

The human “who sought learning and knowledge, according to the Taoists, polluted his or her natural state, risked becoming immoral, wasted his or her time on mediocre knowledge, jeopardized his or her ability to effectively follow the Dao, and could potentially become unruly and difficult to government.” Ignorance of the classics was encouraged for those striving to be good subjects and those who seeking inner peace.

Daoism was more concerned with individuals gaining knowledge about themselves, their natural environment, and the Dao, than with individuals learning from classical Confucian texts or other texts of the sages. Daoist believed that learning would do more harm than good for the people who sought knowledge. Those who seeking knowledge people would not bring an individual closer to the Dao; it may lead people further from “the way”.

Confucian architecture is multi-tiered roofs, beautifully designed archways and magnificent temples and residences; there are prominent characteristics of traditional Confucian architecture. There elements were carefully depicted through the application of Confucian values and their architectural representations can help strengthen the mutual relationship between Confucianism and architecture.

The Confucian temple as an Educational Institution in China. To commemorate Confucius, Chinese people built Confucian temples to honor his contribution to Chinese culture. The Confucius temple were built in county schools of the entire empire, either to the front or on the side of the school. To this day, the Confucius temples still represent knowledge and education, rather than worship alone. Confucian temples usually do not have “Confucius” in the title. For example, the Confucius temple located in Beijing is named the “Ancient University and the Confucius temple in Hanoi, Vietnam, is known as the Temple of Literature.” These alternative names of Confucian temples represent the educational value that Confucius stood for. In addition, these temples would contain stone carvings of carved turtles that show the names of successful students from the days of imperial China.

Unlike Daoist temples, Confucian temples usually do not contain images. This absence emphasized the teaching of Confucius, not the worshiping of the teacher himself. “This status appeared because it satisfied the people’s needs to identify with Confucius.”

Harmonious social system maintained through architectural design. Confucian thought was the core of China’s hierarchical social system. “The hierarchical Confucian code of conduct influenced the residential design of courtyards were distinctly separated to represent the hierarchical social system as well as the Confucian influenced value of subordinate relationships.” For example, the relationship between parents and children.

In a courtyard residences, the center of the courtyard was thought to be superior and the most significant, while the sides were less. The northern end of the courtyard was ideal because it faced the south and received the most sunlight. “Therefore, to choose the location was use by the family supervisor or the elders of the family.”For example, the Chinese emperor sat on his throne and faced the south. This was a traditional form of conduct and these values were reflected in the placing of important people in residential courtyard and palaces.

According to the Confucian family order, both ends of the east and west were occupied by the younger generation. “The courtyard was self-enclosed world that represented safety and harmony. Within it, the relationships were defined by Confucian values, and the space was allocated accordingly.” Today, a sense of the courtyard has been preserved using of hutongs, not only for family, but also for community.

Daoism pursues the harmonious unity of human and nature. The Daoist is priestly built a temple that conformed to the contours of the land. It was starting with the inheritance of traditional Chinese architecture ideas; they have added their own concepts. “Splendorous symmetric architectural complexes are composed of many ordinary yards spreading orderly along a central axis. In every single yard, there is a neat structure. The whole layout reflects Daoist’s emphasis on order and equability.”

Daoist architecture is manly temples, tended to be built in natural environments, usually mountains and near bodies of water. Daoist architecture includes temples, palaces, nunneries, altars and huts where religious activities are performed and the power that envelopes and flows through all things, living and non-living, is worshipped. It is similar to Buddhist architecture, it can be divided into holy halls for sacrifice, altars to pray at, houses to live in, and rooms that chant scriptures in according to their use. But the difference is that Daoist architectural style is closer to the worldly buildings. For example, “Daoist statues and wall paintings are more familiar to common people.” As mentioned earlier, most of Daoist buildings are built in the natural environments and once completed, they become very sacred and respected.

Another construction style follows the theory of five elements of Taoism and eight figure. A stove that refines the immortal pill, is thought to extend person’s life and it placed around the center which other structures are distributed in eight diagrams. “All structures are forming a strict structural system, reflecting the essence of Daoist thought, the relationship between energy and spirit.”

Daoist architecture is developed from the early palaces, altars and temples in ancient China. The most Daoist temples are wooden frames with garden structures. Some garden attractions are man-made gazebos, towers, sidewalks and terraces. And others are mainly based on natural scenery. The quiet and beautiful mountains provide an innocent environment in which Taoism can nurture the inner self.

The both Confucianism and Daoism have opposing view about filial piety, education, and architecture. They both arose as Philosophical worldviews and ways of life. The Confucianism main purpose is benevolence and justice to give up the righteousness to government the country with honor and filial piety. The main purpose of Daoism is natural and rule of the country is inaction.

Confucianism advocates benevolent government, that is concentrating power to do good things for people; Daoism advocates inaction and believe that benevolent politics, which is go to the opposite side. Confucianism advocates education, so it admires saints; Daoism advocates self-reliance, so it is believed that saints do not die, and thieves do not stop. Confucianism believed that human nature is good and life is evil, but Daoism believed that nature is natural and there is no such thing as good and evil. They both are different in architecture. Confucian architecture is more about people’s residences. Daoist architecture is more about temples. It has important artistic and historical value in Daoist and Confucian philosophy and ancient Chinese thought. The idea of Confucius education has been handed down to present.

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Daoism and Confucian’s Philosophy . (2021, May 27). Retrieved December 10, 2023 , from

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