Lao Tzu’s Response to Confucius
Of all the eastern philosophers, Confucius, born in 550 BC, was the greatest of them all. His wisdom and teachings set the foundation of the Asian Education system. In the Analects, his most famous written work, Confucius emphasizes the Principle of Jen, which is the virtue of good and benevolence. He expresses this virtue through recognizing the values and concerns of others, no matter their rank or class. Confucius best summarizes Jen in the Analects through what is sometimes referred to today as the Golden rule, “Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you." (Analects 15:23). This idea of treating others the way you would want to be treated emphasizes the importance of acting virtuous, and in return will be rewarded with acts of virtue. Confucius teaches that virtue is an act, and by acting with virtue good will come.
Lao Tzu was another great philosopher around the time of Confucius who had a different take on life. Although he is attributed with the writing of Tao-Te Ching, he rarely wrote his ideas down because he wanted his philosophy to be passed on in a natural way, to live life with goodness, serenity, and respect, and feared that if it were to be written down it would become an official doctrine of which people followed, rather than a natural occurrence. He had no code on which one should behave, because he believed that good should be governed by instinct and conscience.
Both Confucius and Lao Tzu strived to spread good and virtue to the people, but each had different ideas and methods on how to do so. Confucius preached to act with virtue, while Lao Tzu wanted people to have virtue without necessarily presenting it. He believed it should be a state of mind and a natural occurrence in the mind. Because of these two clashing view points, it is apparent that Lao Tzu would respond negatively towards Confucius’s notion of virtue.
In Lao Tzu’s Tao-Te Ching, he demonstrates his beliefs in the natural...