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Confucianism and Daoism

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0302
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

  1. 10.25.22 | Handout

Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism), the two major indigenous religions of China, present worldviews that contrast not only with Western thought, but with each other. Each belief system centers on the concept of the Dao, or the Way. The goal of religious self-cultivation is to follow the Way, or to be oriented properly and moving in the right direction. This distinguishes them from Christianity and Buddhism, which both propose a finish line that one may cross.

However, Confucianism and Daoism have very different understandings of this Way. Confucian teachings seek to ground individuals in society by ritual propriety, that is, the observance of behavioral norms. Confucian thinkers promised that the ritualization of daily life would make followers more authentically human, leading to a society that flourished. Daoists saw society as enveloped within a larger natural world that presented a Way encompassing all things. For them, "attaining the Way" meant transcendence and immortality. The two traditions have often been at odds, though individuals could find it possible to embrace both visions.

Charles Jones, a professor of religion and culture at Catholic University of America, explores the basic teachings of the two traditions and their strategies for coexistence throughout Chinese history.

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