Essay on Chinese philosophers - Conficius and Lao-Tzu

philosophy / confucius / lao tzu / religion / culture / china

The teachings of Confucius and Lao-Tzu

            The development of the world philosophy was highly influenced by two ancient magnificent Chinese philosophers. The names of Confucius and Lao-Tzu are very well-known to those people who reveal interest to philosophy and religion. This is primarily due to the fact that Confucius and Lao-Tzu have made an outstanding contribution to the growth of morality and their teachings provided people with a guide of an honest life. Confucius and Lao-Tzu lived and created their teachings at one time and both of them converted China into a philosophical center. The teachings of Confucius and Lao-Tzu possess a very deep content and promote humaneness. Both of them contain the theoretical base for the “improvement” of the world through the “improvement” of the people. It is very hard to underestimate the importance of these two teachings that in spite of their differences and similarities together make the top of the philosophical thoughts of humanity.

     The teaching of Confucius may be called an ethical concept of human activity. The teachings basically have five main messages. The first message reveals two main components: “zen” and “li”. The “zen” concept implies humanity and philanthropy and “li” deals with rules and etiquette. Confucius stated that “li” was the highest manifestation of “zen”; “zen” is achieved through “li”. In other words the ability to follow the rules and the etiquette was the best way to show respect and affection to authorities and the world the individual lives in. The second message of the teachings states that an honest and decent person must obey the rulers and provides a set of norms for the heads of the state. These two components reflected Conficius’ opinion on the state structure and the social organization of the community. In the third message Confucius warns the humanity against the ardor for anything of an extreme character. He considers the “middle” to be the best position for a man. The fourth message deals with “power”. In terms of power, the teachings of Confucius consider it should be built on the principle of justice. In other words, he united such notions as power and justice into one solid formation. The fifth main message states that the individual has to be deeply involved and faithful to the religion he professes. According to Conficius, virtue and knowledge are interrelated. The order in the world (“li”) can be achieved through ethics and owing to the development of a man. The teachings of Confucius introduce the notion of what means to be a noble man.

      The teachings of Lao-Tzu are basically a system which leads the individual to the harmonious existence in the world. It provides a set of methods for the development of attention to the inner self and to the individual’s actions for achievement of an inner balance. The central idea of the philosophy of Lao-Tzu is the idea of two alphas – Dao and De. The word “dao” actually means “way”. In terms of the teachings of Lao-Tzu “dao” is a wide metaphysical content for it is not just a way but the essence of things and the total being of the universe. De is what “feeds” Dao and helps it to actually occur. De – is a universal power, a principle, with the help of which Dao happens. It is also a method of existence in objective reality. According to Lao-Tzu, De is the possibility to accumulate correct life-energy. De is the art of appropriate usage of the life-energy and the art of right behavior. Lao-Tzu states that De is not simply morality as it goes beyond the limits of the common sense and helps to release the life-energy from the daily routine.  The teachings of Lao-Tzu were and still are very important for people due to the fact that it leads to spiritual purification.

     The teachings of Confucius and Lao-Tzu have many common things. Both of them though are treated as religions, do not have a God. Both promote the spiritual development and purification of the individual. Each of the teachings has two basic elements as the basic principle. For Confucius they are Zen and Li and for Lao-Tzu they are Dao and De.  These teachings provide stable development of the individuals who follow them. Confucius and Lao-Tzu with their works involve the whole universe aimed at preventing molestations. They give “spiritual food” for people and teach them to find this place in the world in order to make its blossom possible. These teaching are amazing concepts of the improvement of the objective reality; Lao-Tzu and Confucius are the “dragons” of the fight for spiritual improvement.




  1. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005). “Confucianism: An Overview”. In Encyclopedia of Religion.vol. C, pp 1890–1905. Detroit: MacMillan.
  2. Wu, J. (1995). “Confucius ”. In I. McGreal (ed.), Great thinkers of the eastern world: the major thinkers of the philosophical and religious classics of China, India, Japan, Korea and the world of Islam (pp 3–8). New York: HarperCollins.
  3. Simpkins, A.; Simpkins, C. (1999). “Taoism: a guide to living in the balance”. Boston: Tuttle Pub.
  4. Kaltenmark, M.(1998). “Lao Tzu and Taoism”. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

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