What is the central problem in Dao De Jing?

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Natalie Saaris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dao De Jing, written during the turbulent period of the Warring States, addresses the question of how one is to live and rule virtuously. In setting out the tenets of a righteous life, the text refutes many of the principles espoused by other philosophical schools, namely the Legalists, the Confucians, and the Mohists.

On the question of whether a ruler should employ force and violence, Dao De Jing advocates for a nonviolent approach that seeks to understand the dao, the universal principal that governs all life and meaning. 

The Daoists then oppose the Confucians and the Mohists in their emphasis on non-activity: while the Confucians and the Mohists encourage their sages to share their teachings with others, the Daoists believe in refraining from activity that alters the original state of the world. Rather than striving to change things, Daoists believe in accepting their situation as it is and reveling in the perfect pattern that structures the world. 

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Dao De Jing

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