Category Archives: Daoism

Why Do Americans Find Daoism/Zhuangism So Compelling as a Way of Life (and Not Confucianism)?

I’ve been teaching East Asian Philosophy this semester, and have noticed something that I’ve seen in many semesters past.  For the most part, students dislike Confucianism, but love Daoism (especially Zhuangzi).  I’ve always found this curious.  I first noticed this as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland in my first exposure to early Chinese philosophy (a story to which I’ll return in a moment).

The first early Chinese work I ever read was the Analects (I don’t remember which translation it was, probably D.C. Lau).  Early in my undergrad years, I worked at a bookstore in my hometown, and was assigned to the Religion section, which I restocked and maintained.  One of the things I loved about working at the store was that I discovered so many new books there, and during my breaks (or slow times in the store), I had the opportunity to read the books I was stocking.  I picked up a copy of the Analects on a lunch break once, thinking it looked interesting and worth a try.  I ended up being fascinated with it, and Continue reading