Both Confucianism and Daoism originated in China following a particularly turbulent period known as the Period of the Warring States. Both resulted from intellectual inquiry into the nature of society and the role of the individual within that society.
Confucianism originated with Kong Funzi, often called by his disciples "Master Philosopher King." HIs teachings are not abstract, and do not deal with abstract philosophy or religion; but was rather a philosophy of good government. He believed that government positions should be filled by people who were both capable and also morally upright. To Confucius, moral integrity and the ability to render sound judgment was far more important than formal education. He emphasized thee particular qualities:
- Ren: Meaning: Kindness and benevolence. Those who possessed it should be respectful, loyal, diligent, and courteous.
- Li: Meaning: A sense of propriety such that one would behave in a conventionally appropriate manner. One should treat all people with courtesy; but at the same time show special respect and deference to elders and superiors.
- Xiao: Meaning: Filial piety. Children should respect their parents and other family elders; care for them in their old age, and venerate them after their death.
Dao literally means "the way." Daoists considered Confucius' ideas to be a waste of time; they rather believed that the answer to the problems of society was to withdraw and live as simply as possible. The chief moral virtue of Daoism was wuwei, by means of which one disengaged ones self from worldly affairs, avoided advanced education and lived simply, unpretentiously, and in harmony with nature. Government should be as simple as possible; it should consist of self-sufficient communities where people had no desire to either fight or trade. So content would people be with their new found solitude that they would not even visit their neighbors.