Philosophy of Religions Essay

Philosophy of Religions

            Chinese philosophy began to flourish in the sixth century before Christ—a period of unrest, when the ancient order crumbled and new social relationships emerged - Philosophy of Religions Essay introduction. First is Confucianism which was founded by Confucius. Confucius was a sage of ancient China. Primarily a moral and social philosopher, he used his teaching activities as an instrument for social reform. Confucius based his philosophies on what he considered to be traditional wisdom as exemplified by the lives of certain early emperors. He considered himself a transmitter of knowledge rather than an originator. The primary goal of Confucianism is to develop a harmonious social order by means of ethical government. Those who govern must be superior men; that is, men of superior moral character. The moral life, according to Confucius, is based on tradition, thus preserving all the wisdom and learning that men have gained in the past. An important element of Confucianism is ancestor worship. An official religion in China for 2,000 years, Confucianism has deeply influenced Chinese culture. Its precepts, always practical, emphasize man and his society, in contrast to Taoism, which emphasizes nature. Confucianism sees spiritual development in terms of moral conduct in this life. Confucianism teaches the practice of benevolence and love, or Jen, and the harmonious development of things, or the Doctrine of the Mean (See” Confucianism”).

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            Taoism is a Chinese philosophy and a religion that developed from it. It was founded by Lao- Tzu. Taoism ranks with Buddhism and Confucianism as one of China’s great systems of ethical and religious thought. Many scholars, both Western and Oriental, study the Taoist philosophy. The philosophy’s emphasis on man’s oneness with nature has had a strong influence on Chinese art and on the development of Zen Buddhism. According to tradition, The Way and Its Virtue was written in the sixth century B.C. by a Chinese philosopher name Lao-tzu. He is regarded as the founder of Taoism. The Taoist religion probably began to develop in the second century A.D. It combined the Taoist philosophy with ideas and practices from other philosophies and religions, especially Buddhism. By the end of the fifth century A.D., the Taoist religion had priesthood, temples, rituals, a system of ethical teachings, and a belief in many gods. The chief book of Taoism, The Way and Its Virtue (Tao Te Ching), teaches that those who want to be happy must become part of Tao (“The Way”). To Taoists, Tao is “the path that natural things follow” or “the totality of all that is spontaneous.” A person becomes part of Tao by retreating from civilization to mediate on his oneness with nature. The central Taoist principle is wu wei (“do nothing”), meaning that one should do nothing forced or artificial—only be natural and spontaneous. Taoism emphasizes avoidance of extremes, acceptance of the natural course of events, and simplicity in political and social organization. Taoists believe that the simple, primitive life is the happiest because it is closest to nature and the efforts to control events, acquire learning, or abide by rules are unnatural and bring unhappiness (See “ Taoism”).

In conclusion, Confucius teachings and guidelines really gave great and big development to China. It also brought awakening among them which is now presently very obvious with regards to their attitudes towards their government. Although many philosophical teachings rose after Confucianism, still Chinese individuals strongly hold on to their belief with the aforementioned philosophy. Taoism is more on practicality and reasoning. It simply talk about human happiness prevails in a society of idyllic and simplicity.

References:

“Confucianism”. New Standard Encyclopedia. Volume 5, pp. 525-526.
“Taoism” New Standard Encyclopedia. Volume 20, pp. 99-102.

 

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