Mencius and Dao Den Jing

Compose a 750 words assignment on mencius and dao den jing compared. Needs to be plagiarism free! The Number 4 November Mencius and Dao Den Jing Compare Essay Two styles of living that originated in Early China and have impacted the Chinese for more than two thousand years are Confucianism and Taoism. The former originated from the teachings of Confucius, who lived in 6-5th centuries B.C., and was developed by a few Confucian thinkers, Mencius among them (4th century B.C). The latter is rooted in the teachings of the sage Laozi that have been known under the title of Dao De Jing since the 6th century B.C. While both Confucianism and Taoism are ancient Chinese styles of living, they differ in a whole range of views, concepts, practices, and rites. In particular, Mencius’s view about the ruler relationship with his subjects differs from the one expressed in Dao De Jing. My goal in this paper is to explore the difference between Mencius and Laozi’s teachings in relation to the concept of the relationship between the ruler and the people. To achieve my goal, I have divided the paper in five meaningful parts. The first one introduces the subject with focus on the essay’s major objective. The second part focuses on Mencius’s view of the ruler-people relationship. The third part explores the teaching of Laozi that focus on the same issue. The fourth part examines differences between the two concepts discussed in the foregoing paragraphs, while the fifth section of the essay concludes the text. To begin with, Mencius developed the ethical teachings of his predecessor Confucius. His major contribution into philosophical concepts that sought to defend Confucius was the elaboration of the concept “human nature is good”, which had been introduced by Confucius (Shun, “Mencius”). This ideal was based on Confucian major attributes of ren (understood as benevolence and humanness), li (refers to rites observance), yi (refers to propriety), and zhi (relates to wisdom). While ren was believed to have been the principal virtue by Mencius, it was explained as a root to the remaining virtues of li, yi, and zhi. As described by Confucius, to find ren a person “should see nothing improper, hear nothing improper, say nothing improper, do nothing improper” (“Chinese Culture” 24). In this context, Mencius in his understanding of the relationship between the ruler and his people naturally places the latter to the position of supreme importance. Only a person with ren must be a ruler, says Mencius. Otherwise, the ruler will not enjoy the allegiance of his subjects (Shun, “Mencius”). The ruler with ren lives in harmony with his people, who are the biggest treasure for him, bigger than the altars to different gods. The ruler with ren, therefore, achieves the state of being invincible, which means he will have no opposition to his rule. To illustrate, Mencius believed that “there are three things a noble lord should treasure: his territory, his people, and his government. Those who instead treasure pearls and jade will surely come to ruin within their own lifetimes.” (Mencius). Similarly to Mencius, Laozi does not seem to separate politics and ethical ideals. Equipped with knowledge of Taoist philosophy and ethical prescriptions, a person becomes a sage. Such sages make effective rulers, according to Dao De Jing. The teachings of Laozi maintain that any ruler must model his manner of governing people on the way Tao governs the myriad creations in the universe. The Daoist scriptures say that “Heaven and earth are inhumane. they treat the myriad things as straw dogs”. Bokenkamp in his research further explains this concept in the following way: heaven and earth are humane to those who do good and inhumane to those who do evil. Hence, when heaven and earth destroy various things, they destroy the evil that is hated by them and viewed by them as “grass or domestic dogs” (Bokenkamp 82). As Bokenkamp explains, in Taoism the common run of humans are straw dogs since their spirits and inner selves are not capable of communicating with heaven. The reason for such situation is that “as robbers and thieves with evil intentions dare not be seen by government officials, their essences and spirits are not in touch with heaven, so that when they meet with dire extremities, heaven is unaware of it” (Bokenkamp 82). In Taoism, it is believed that people do not reform their evil hearts, which makes them straw dogs, just as the prophecy of the Yellow Thearch showed. In this respect, the position of the ruler regarding moral refinement of his people is quite passive – the foregoing order of things is regarded natural. So what the ruler does is carrying about people’s wellbeing without luxury and keeping them ignorant. Comparison of the two philosophical systems discussed above allows identifying their different views on the issue of relationship between the ruler and people. Mencius’s teachings assert that any ruler should seek allegiance of his people who are perceived as his greatest treasure, as well as should use his political power to refine people’s morality, educate them, and help them transform their inner selves to effectively follow the Way (Guo 161). On the contrary, Taoism views an ideal ruler as “a shadowy presence”, which is the core of Taoist political philosophy. In other words, daoist scriptures praise the ruler that rules in such way that people are hardly aware that he exists (Ross, “Comments on the Tao Te Ching”). In summary, the teachings of Mencius and Laozi have different understandings of the ruler’s relationship with his people. While the former assert the necessity of the ruler’s acting as a moral example for his people and urge rulers to use their power to help people refine morality, the latter understand the role of the ruler as an inactive authority whose job is to help people exist naturally, so that his ruling may even go unnoticed. Works Cited Bokenkamp, Stephen, R. Early Daoist Scriptures. University of California Press, 1999. Print. “Chinese Culture”, Vol. 16. Chinese Cultural Research Institute, 1975. Print. Guo, Xuezhi. The Ideal Chinese Political Leader: A Historical and Cultural Perspective. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print. Ross, Kelley. “Comments on the Tao Te Ching”. Friesian.Com. N.d.Web. 4 Nov 2012. &lt. http://www.friesian.com/taote.htm&gt.. Shun, Kwong Loi, “Mencius”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta&nbsp.(ed.). Web. 4 Nov 2012. .

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