Why was China able to accept two different basic belief systems, Confucianism and Daoism? How did the reemergence of civilization in China compare with the new societies that developed in the Greek world?

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Neither Confucianism nor Daoism is a religion. Both are philosophical systems, and they do not contradict each other. The fact that they are somewhat differently focused only renders them more compatible. Confucianism concentrates on moral conduct and obligations. Perhaps the closest Western equivalent to Confucius—certainly the closest Greek one—is Aristotle,...

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Neither Confucianism nor Daoism is a religion. Both are philosophical systems, and they do not contradict each other. The fact that they are somewhat differently focused only renders them more compatible. Confucianism concentrates on moral conduct and obligations. Perhaps the closest Western equivalent to Confucius—certainly the closest Greek one—is Aristotle, who also writes a great deal about the nature of virtue and how one ought to behave to others. The Confucian concept of a noble man or gentleman is very close to Aristotle's idea on the subject. Daoism has a more mystical focus and emphasizes harmony, the importance of following the right path. This idea itself harmonizes with the principles of Confucianism. To ask how people can accept both is rather like enquiring how one could be both a Utilitarian and a Liberal. Many, perhaps most, utilitarians are also liberals, and there is no conflict between the two philosophies.

Chinese civilization has been far more consistent and continuous than that of Greece. Even the brief period of Mongol rule did not pose a serious threat to Chinese culture. You can see this even in the architecture: a modern Daoist temple is evidently the same type of structure, and is often even constructed from the same materials, as an ancient one. What we think of as the Golden Age of Greece was really, from a cultural perspective, the Golden Age of Athens, a tiny city state which does not bear comparison even with one of the warring kingdoms of China, let alone the unified empire.

There is a continuity in the ancient and modern cultures of China which survived the Middle Ages, unlike any European civilization. The Renaissance is so called precisely because Greek culture, which had all but disappeared from Western Europe, was reborn. Naturally, this could not have happened if classical cultures had altogether died out, but their preservation in Byzantium, and in certain monastic communities, was a far cry from the consistency which characterized Chinese civilization over the millennia.

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