What does the term "tao" mean for Confucianism?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The term "tao" means something different to Confucians than it does to Taoists.  To Confucians, the term means a sort of ethical system for human behavior.  To them, the tao is the way in which human beings are supposed to act.

Confucianism was/is more of a philosophical and moral approach to life than it is a religion.  To Confucians, the most important thing is that human beings should act in the correct ways, in ways that will bring harmony and stability to their society.  There is much less of an emphasis on doing the will of a god or gods.  Instead, the emphasis is on the effects and implications of one's actions in this life.

For Confucians, then, the tao is not so much a religious or a mystical idea.  Instead, it is simply the way that human beings ought to behave in order that their society can be harmonious and stable.

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