Similarities between Confucianism and Taoism

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What is Confucianism?

Confucianism is a misnomer for the tradition that is normally referred as ru jia or simply as ru in china. The origin of the English word ‘Confucianism’ can be traced back to the Jesuits of the sixteenth century. This term Confucianism has been taken in the west as the best name for the East Asian tradition with Confucius as its fountainhead. It was Confucius who extensively elaborated on the fundamental principles of what was to become known as Confucianism, and it is considered that it is Confucius and his followers who succeeded in transmitting and transforming this ancient culture.

Confucianism emphasizes on ethics, morality and activism i.e. it encourages social harmony and mutual respect. They valued ethics and respect for elders and propriety.

Similarities between Confucianism and Taoism

Characteristics of Confucianism

  • It focuses on social teachings, which deal with the behaviour of an individual in society and to his fellow men.
  • It is characterized by focusing on political teachings whereby it emphasised on the mode of governance and the existence of good relationship between the ruler and the ruled.
  • It heavily emphasised on education as the main tool for achieving greater conduct between and within the society and in government.
  • it heavily emphasised that the key to achieving proper self-mastery was adherence to correct ritual in which ritual composed both quasi-religious practices as veneration of dead ancestors, as well as the broader concept of etiquette and correct social interaction.

What is Taoism?

Lao- Tse is credited as the founder of Taoism. He was searching for a way to end the constant tribal warfare and disharmony that was very prevalent at his time. Taoism teaches its followers on how to progress in life, and evolve as immortal aspects of the divine. It teaches that Tao is the first cause of the universe hence the term Tao can be translated as meaning ‘the path’ or the way of nature. By upholding the teachings of the ancient knowledge of both the east and west is regarded as the ultimate goal and the most sacred objective of the followers is to become one with Tao.

Their symbol is referred as Yin-Yang which is regarded to represent the balance of the opposites in the universe. They perceive that calmness and harmony is achieved when yin and yang are equal and balanced. When one of them becomes dominant over the other then confusion and disarray becomes inevitable. Yin and yang are considered as the opposing forces in nature in which humans can involve themselves hence by doing so they can upset the balance of nature.

Similarities between Confucianism and Taoism-1

Characteristics of Taoism

  • It emphasizes on positive and active attitude towards the nature of reality
  • The most essential concept in Taoism is that of Tao in which it’s teaching is relied upon.
  • It disapproves of killing, stealing, lying and promiscuity, while promoting altruistic, helpful and more kindly behaviour.
  • Taoism tend not to acknowledge initiation of action but it teaches to wait for events to make certain actions necessary and to avoid being controlled by their own desires and compulsions which may push them to do certain things.

Possible Similarities between Confucianism and Taoism

  1. Both Confucianism and Taoism have a one goal and focuses on self-improvement from being individuals by welcoming greater whole to contribute to society.
  2. They were both invented so as to offer solutions to the chaos that erupted as a result of the fall of Zhou Dynasty.
  3. Both Confucianism and Taoism teach about family and one’s rightful place in society. Confucius stressed that elders were superior to you whereas Lao suggested that men were superior to women hence both of this had a sort of social hierarchy.
  4. Both of these two religions exhibited respect for what they taught.
  5. Both share common beliefs about man, society and the universe.


  • Confucius taught that there are mutual relationships and obligations that exist between member of society hence there is need to adhere to the proper conduct between members of these groupings so as to guarantee a proper and harmonious relationship between them and to serve as the foundation of a just stable society.
  • Confucius emphasised on importance of the following rituals i.e. he said that look at nothing in defiance, speak of nothing in defiance, and listen to nothing in defiance of ritual.
  • Taoism has a core of self-reflection and oneness with cosmos and refused to look into matters that they thought defied solutions

Author: Victoria Jones

Victoria Jones has a degree in psychology from UK. She is an expert with over 4 years experience in writing and content strategy. She has written over 50 articles, some of which have been featured in local daily’s and magazines.

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