Does ‘the Man make the way great,’ or does ‘the Way (Dao) make the man great’?
Contrast and assess the distinct approaches to moral and existential prosperity offered by Confucius (Humanism) and Lao-Tzu (Daoism).
How do their distinct approaches to moral and existential prosperity differ?
Which approach is preferable and why?
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Consider the question, “Does ‘The Man make the way great,’ or does ‘the Way (Dao) make the man great’”? In this essay, I will act as a defender of the claim that the Way (Dao) makes the man great. In this argument, I will contrast and assess the distinct approaches to moral and existential prosperity offered by Confucius (Humanism) and Lao-Tzu (Daoism) and I will approach how their distinct approaches to moral and existential prosperity differ. In the main, I will show that Lao-Tzu’s Daoism is preferable to Confucius’s Humanism.
From an existential point of view, the Dao in Lao Zhu’s conception is all about flow. By flow, I mean the opposite of static. A man’s path is not predetermined, and like a river that flows willy-nilly, the Dao makes a man great because it is all about in the world without being programmed with a specific course of action.
Consider a computer program. It is static. If the Dao were like a computer program, it would have to follow a strict set of routines and subroutines. There would be some leeway for finding one’s way, but in this model, the Dao does not have a flow of its own. The Daoism of Lao Tzu offers a better template to paint a picture of what makes a man great for it is based on a philosophy of existence that leaves room for discovery and exploration.
In this way, the Dao of Confucianism is not based on the idea that it is the Dao that makes a man great. In a static universe, there is too much room for the notion that there is one answer for everything. In this way, there is no room for a way that allows for multiple paths. More than one way can be the right way.
Indeed the humanism of Confucius is both metaphysical and ethical. It is metaphysical because he is interested in being as order and people are ordered in this way to make a more integral community. The metaphysics of its ordering allows its ethical side to emerge. People act in such a way because the “Dao” in the Confucian “way” is something humanity does for humanity. It is not necessarily a way for greatness. It is based on the idea of people doing favors for each other based on a rule-based morality and not one based on a prosperity morality....