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- Philosophical doctrine developed by Laozi.

- Key topics? Observation of nature and of the
vital energies.
- Influence? on Confucianism and Buddhism.
2.2. Origin Laozi
- Before Laozi: Chinese religion
worshipped nature.

- Laozi (the old master): philosopher

contemporary of
Confucius (VI-V c. B.C.)
he developed a
on the universe.
- Life of Laozi: very little is known of his
. He was archivist in the library of the
imperial court.
+ should have known Confucius (younger)
and talked to him about ethics.
. He left his job and moved
to the West.
. He wrote a book
on his philosophy.
2.3. Evolution of his thought
- Taoism was transformed into religion (from 2nd
formal rituals, worship of spirits, ... were added.
- Taoism was mixed with Buddhism (at the 7th c.).
This mixture was widespread in Tibet and later
in Japan (zen).
2.4. Taoist works
- Canon of the Way and the Virtue (Dao-Jiu):

= set of philosophical aphorisms

It had a huge influence on Asian

- Zhuang-zi: a disciple of Laozi in the 4th c. BC.

= precursor of relativism and


Develops the idea that life and human

knowledge are limited and no one can have the
2.5. Essential principles of Taoism) Tao (o
"way, way, course of things
= Cosmos, universe which is an infinite stream
that has no beginning nor end and includes
everything (time, things and its opposite).
Nothing is stable, nor independent.
But at the same time, the opposing forces are
The contemporary Greek philosopher
Heraclitus (500 BC): says exactly the same!
Possible influence of Taoism on the Greek
2) Yin and yang
- They are the vital energies that are not opposed
but are complementary.

- They are represented symbolically by the circle

divided into 2 (tai ji):
. Yin: feminine, absorbent
. yang: masculine, active
- The cosmos/harmony (tao) results from the
balance of these forces.
The Japanese/Chinese painting represents
the harmony of nature: the mountains (yang)
and clouds (yin)
= both principles are interpenetrated, not
2.6. Activities inspired by Taoism
1) Tai-chi chuan:
Gymnastics practiced by millions of Chinese that
applies the principle of energy and balance in
- It is a continuous movement that unifies the
contraries: indoor/outdoor, high/low, full/empty, ...
2) The art of bonsai:
This miniature tree was the object of worship by
Taoist monks.
Symbolized eternity, the bridge between the
divine and the human, the heaven and earth.
To finish:
- a great video about the Taoist philosophy
applied to our lives:
- a film inspired by the principles of Taoism
(Union of human beings with nature, same phases of the
evolution of life to death, etc.):
Primavera, verano,
otoo, invierno:
17 + 2025
Cnon de la vida i la virtut
Tao canvi i equilibri
Yin i yang
Tai-txi xuan