Chinese Schools of Thought Term Paper

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Chinese Schools' of Thought

Legalism, Confucianism, and Daoism

The Chinese society during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty was dominated by controversies regarding reform. The general public could not agree on a particular system of restructuring because people had diverging opinions, fueled by influential schools of thought that existed during the period. The Zhou Dynasty period saw the emergence of innovative political and moral thought. Chinese aristocrats thus had the mission of choosing the principles they would adopt in performing politics, with Legalism, Daoism, and Confucianism being some of the prominent philosophies at the time.

Individuals who favored the Legalism school of philosophy were interested in installing a tyrannical form of government meant to control people and society as a whole. These people were certain that there was no other option but for laws to be severely enforced in order for their community to thrive. Legalists believed that the emperor should be endowed with total authority over the country while local communities should be governed solely in accordance to the emperor's convictions. Small states were virtually oppressed by this system of governing, considering that they were left with no power to exercise their free-will.

All across the country, people were obliged to refrain from expressing their convictions, since all of them had to put across ideas similar to the ones the emperor wanted them to. Indiscipline was met with extreme force with the purpose of preventing individuals from being interested in anything else in addition to the mission that they were provided with.

Legalists typically believed that all individuals were self-interested, regardless of the seeming altruism society often put across. This philosophy lobbied for the theory that any community needed to be controlled through force in order for it to function properly. The political system supported by Legalism was simply meant to maintain order by using any means possible, regardless of the immorality that particular acts brought along. From the legalist point-of-view, people will never be able to appreciate a leader because of his or her qualities. Instead, they should respect the respective person because of the authority he or she has over them.

To a certain extent, Daoism can be considered to be a response to Legalism, given that the former contradicted the other regarding a series of thoughts. Even though Confucianism was not particularly influential at the time when Daoism was praised by ancient Chinese, the philosophical thought started to function in parallel to China's main school of thought.

Daoists are devoted to serving dao, a concept regarding which nothing can be preached, but that involves everything. Virtue was an essential element in Daoism, with individuals following the school of thought favoring it and wanting to live in a society dominated by harmony. Through this philosophical theory, the Chinese were able to express their sentiments freely and without being affected in any way by external factors. Being a Daoist simply meant capitulating in front of life's greatness and accepting it and everything related to it with great pleasure.

Daoism stressed the importance of spirituality, with individuals going through great efforts to attain enlightenment by turning to the divine or to the metaphysical. Even though it had been less directed to improve politics, Daoism assisted the political system during the leadership of the "Yellow Emperor" Huangdi. The emperor used the school of thought with the purpose of shaping Chinese society so as for it to experience progress and to be well organized.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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