Question:

How would you characterize Daoist teachings in their entirety?

Answer:

Along with Confucianism, “Daoism” (sometimes called “Taoism“) is one of the two great indigenous philosophical traditions of China. As an English term, Daoism corresponds to both Daojia (“Dao family” or “school of the Dao”), an early Han dynasty.

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Taoism

Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest cultures. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in eastern Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between provinces, cities, and even towns. Important components of Chinese culture include literature, music, visual arts, martial arts, cuisine, religion etc.

The majority of traditional Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States eras, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years; some can be found in the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes), an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that the major philosophies of China, Confucianism, Mohism, Legalism, and Daoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.

Following the Qin Dynasty, Confucianism became the dominant philosophical school of China. The largest philosophical rivals to Confucianism were Legalism and Mohism before the Han dynasty. Legalism as a coherent philosophy disappeared largely due to its relationship with the unpopular authoritarian rule of Qin Shi Huang, however, many of its ideas and institutions would continue to influence Chinese philosophy until the end of Imperial rule during the Xinhai Revolution. Mohism though popular at first due to its emphasis on brotherly love versus harsh Qin Legalism, fell out of favour during the Han Dynasty due to the efforts of Confucians in establishing their views as political orthodoxy. The Six Dynasties era saw the rise of the Xuanxue philosophical school and the maturation of Chinese Buddhism, which had entered China from India during the Late Han Dynasties. By the time of the Tang Dynasty five-hundred years after Buddhism's arrival into China, it had transformed into a thoroughly Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of Zen Buddhism. Neo-Confucianism became highly popular during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy.

Religion in China has been characterized by pluralism since the beginning of Chinese history. Chinese religions are family-oriented and do not demand exclusive adherence, allowing the practice or belief of several at the same time. Some scholars prefer not to use the term "religion" in reference to belief systems in China, and suggest "cultural practices", "thought systems" or "philosophies" as more appropriate terms. There is a stimulating debate over what to call religion and who should be called religious in China. Since 1949, China has been governed by the Communist Party of China, which is an atheist organisation. It presently formally permits five religions in China: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism (though despite historic links, for political reasons, the Chinese Catholic Church has been separated from the Roman Catholic Church).

Buddhism remains a widely practiced religion since its introduction in the 1st century. One of the largest group of religious traditions is popular religion the religion of the Han, which overlaps with Taoism, and the worship of the shens, a collection of local ethnic deities, heroes and ancestors, and figures from Chinese mythology. Among the most popular ones in recent years have been Mazu (goddess of the seas, patron of Southern China), Huangdi (divine patriarch of all the Chinese, "Volksgeist" of the Chinese nation), the Black Dragon, Caishen (god of prosperity and richness), and others.

Asia

The majority of traditional Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States eras, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years; some can be found in the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes), an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that the major philosophies of China, Confucianism, Mohism, Legalism, and Daoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.

Following the Qin Dynasty, Confucianism became the dominant philosophical school of China. The largest philosophical rivals to Confucianism were Legalism and Mohism before the Han dynasty. Legalism as a coherent philosophy disappeared largely due to its relationship with the unpopular authoritarian rule of Qin Shi Huang, however, many of its ideas and institutions would continue to influence Chinese philosophy until the end of Imperial rule during the Xinhai Revolution. Mohism though popular at first due to its emphasis on brotherly love versus harsh Qin Legalism, fell out of favour during the Han Dynasty due to the efforts of Confucians in establishing their views as political orthodoxy. The Six Dynasties era saw the rise of the Xuanxue philosophical school and the maturation of Chinese Buddhism, which had entered China from India during the Late Han Dynasties. By the time of the Tang Dynasty five-hundred years after Buddhism's arrival into China, it had transformed into a thoroughly Chinese religious philosophy dominated by the school of Zen Buddhism. Neo-Confucianism became highly popular during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty due in large part to the eventual combination of Confucian and Zen Philosophy.

Tao

The Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to East Asia. They constitute approximately 92% of the population of China, 98% of the population of Taiwan, 74% of the population of Singapore, 24.5% of the population of Malaysia, and about 20% of the entire global human population, making them the largest ethnic group in the world. There is considerable genetic, linguistic, cultural, and social diversity among the Han, mainly due to thousands of years of immigration and assimilation of various regional ethnicities and tribes within China. The Han Chinese are a subset of the Chinese nation (Zhonghua minzu). Sometimes Han and other Chinese refer to themselves as the "Descendants of the Yan and Huang Emperors".

In English, the words Daoism and Taoism (/ˈt.ɪzəm/ or /ˈd.ɪzəm/) are the subject of an ongoing controversy over the preferred romanization for naming this native Chinese philosophy and Chinese religion. The root Chinese word 道 "way, path" is romanized tao in the older Wade–Giles system and dào in the modern Pinyin system. The sometimes heated arguments over Taoism vs. Daoism involve sinology, phonemes, loanwords, and politics.

Phonetic transcription (representing each distinct speech sound with a separate symbol) is shown with the International Phonetic Alphabet enclosed in square brackets [ ], and phonemic transcription (representing a small set of speech sounds that a particular language distinguishes) is enclosed within virgules or slashes / /. In articulatory phonetics, "aspiration" is an articulation that involves an audible release of breath. For example, the /t/ in tore [tʰɔər] is "aspirated", with a noticeable puff of breath, but the /t/ in store [stɔər] is "unaspirated". The diacritic for aspiration is a superscript "h", [ʰ] (e.g., tʰ pʰ). While the original IPA did not explicitly mark unaspirated consonants, the revised Extensions to the IPA marks them with a superscript equals sign "=", [⁼] (e.g., t⁼, p⁼). "Voice" or "voicing" distinguishes whether a particular sound is either "voiced" (when the vocal cords vibrate) or "unvoiced" (when they do not). Examples include voiceless [t, s] and voiced [d, z].

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