Difference Between Taoism vs Confucianism

Difference Between Taoism vs Confucianism

Today, we are finally going to explore the difference between Taoism and Confucianism for those who have been wondering how these two Chinese belief systems operate and what makes them slightly different from one another.

We want to ensure that you have clear definitions for each as well as a quick reference table that spells out the contrasting areas between them. Read on for everything you need to know.

Definition of Taoism

The definition of Taoism is a system of living that revolves around an individual forming a deep connection with nature and the world around them.

When looking at Confucianism, you will find that those who practice it are also seeking to reach a state of enlightenment with the world and people around them in the same way as Taoists are, but the crucial difference that separates Taoism vs Confucianism is the way in which this state of enlightenment is achieved.

Practitioners of Taoism seek to link themselves closely with nature and their surroundings in order to learn about themselves and discover a state of inner peace and understanding of the self. Rather than dictating precisely how this should happen via a strict series of rituals and moral codes, these learnings are instead presented as concepts.

It is then up to the Taoist practitioner to understand the value of their surroundings and the means by which the different elements of nature and the world connect together in order to find parallels with themselves and unlock the answers to their own lack of connection and fluidity in certain areas of their life. This differs slightly with Confucianism as there are stricter parameters in place for someone to follow.

Definition of Confucianism

The definition of Confucianism is a living style that focuses on the individual forming a harmonious relationship with society and demonstrating strong ethic and moral values towards others daily. Already, when reading the above description, we can see that the emphasis here lies on the person’s connection with other people in their society.

This is the easiest way to separate the difference between Confucianism and Taoism. With the latter, the focus is on a person’s connection with the world whereas with the former, it is instead on the person’s connection with other people and the manner in which they treat them.

We also find a stark contrast between Confucianism vs Taoism in the daily practices of Confucianism, which closely revolve around performing duties for other people and practicing strict moral and ethical conduct for self betterment and the betterment of those around the individual.

Taoism on the other hand is free flowing and does not dictate such duties or codes of conduct. Instead, it is up to the individual to find enlightenment via intricate open-ended thought.

Main Differences Between Taoism vs Confucianism

We will now provide you with a quick reference table to help you easily identify these two styles of living.

Basis of ComparisonTaoismConfucianism
StructureFree form and based on deep contemplationStructured around strict ethics, morals, and the performing of duties
Based on a connection withThe surrounding worldSociety and the people around you
Overriding goalTo find enlightenment and create inner and outer harmony via a connection with natureTo find enlightenment and create inner and outward harmony via a connection with society and people
TeachingsTaught with written textTaught with verbal dialogue
Belief in a GodNo associated god with TaoismNo associated god with Confucianism
Country of originChinaChina
Founding figureLao TzuConfucius
Are statues featured as part of worship?Yes, quite commonlyAlthough they are permitted, statues are not often featured
View on BuddhaBuddha and his teachings are respected, but Taoists often maintain a neutral stance on himBuddha’s teachings are usually followed, and he is acknowledged as a primary figure

Difference Between Taoism and Confucianism: Conclusion

We hope that you now feel enlightened about the differences between these two enormously popular systems of belief. It is always important to remember when comparing them that Taoism focuses on a connection with nature whereas Confucianism focuses on a connection with other people. This is ultimately what sets the two apart.