How do Daoism and Confucianism work together?

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davidmk4126 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Taoism and Confucianism both have the factors of philosophy and religion, Taoism and Confucianism initially may seem to be polar opposites. They tend to display varying methods of viewing the world around us and to impose separate behavioral codes and morals. However, one should take into account that numerous individuals integrate elements of both philosophies in their daily lives and believe strongly that the two can and do work harmoniously together.

A fitting example of how these two philosophies work together is that both philosophies centralize the goal of self-improvement. In Confucianism, a person improves himself/herself through orderly adherence with codes of conduct and respect for teachers, and the reward is achieved strictly in this life. In Taoism, the individual improves himself through contemplation of himself and universal energy, and the reward is primarily in the next life (i.e., through reincarnation). With both philosophies in harmony the end goal of this self-improvement is an improved social order that benefits all.

One could argue that their similar goals have allowed them to co-exist successfully for thousands of years in numerous cultures and societies. Many adherents of these philosophies make the case that without integrating elements of both Taoism and Confucianism, an individual cannot be truly whole.

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