www.whyville.net Nov 23, 2008 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism

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Hello, young Kimosabi. Today is the first day of the rest of your week.

Okay, so maybe that's not exactly how Confucious put it, but it's close enough. Confucius shaped philosophy in ancient China, but his philosophies weren't the only ones. The three philosophies out there were Confucianism, Legalism, and Daoism. Each had a different approach, but they all aimed to end conflict in China.

Confucianism was started by Kung Fuzi (We know him as Confucius, but his name actually meant "Kung the philosopher"). He felt that if rulers were honest and children respected their parents, everything would fall into place. In Confucianism, each person has a role that they must follow. In the family, the father has the most say, with the eldest son next in line. A ruler has to be everything he wants his people to be: intelligent, patient, graceful - you get the idea. Free thinking was encouraged, but it was considered disgraceful to question your elders.

Legalism was the approach that actually ended all the fighting, but at a heavy price: books were burned, and all free thinking was stopped. People were not inspired by their leaders, but scared. Almost all crimes had similar, harsh punishments. It didn't matter if you stole a loaf of bread or murdered a person - you were still a criminal. There was a strict punishment-reward system. Eventually, the people of Ancient China revolted and Legalism ended.

Daoism was much less focused on politics. The idea behind it is that humans need to be connected with "the dao" or "the way of nature." It's all about the balance of good and bad in the world: the yin and the yang. According to Daoism, having money and power does not matter. Some Daoists actually moved into the woods to become closer with nature.

There you have it: Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism. Which philosophy do you think you follow?


Author's Note: Sources: Interview with my History teacher


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