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Andrew Andrade

Mr. Barker

Philosophy 101

9 February 2011

Word count: 2049


Many people believe that philosophy is a subject meant for those who are lost in

life. Its actually the opposite those who do not study philosophy are lost in life. In our

everyday lives philosophy can be applied from our hygiene to our relationships. It is

based on the questioning of every aspect of life to better gain an understanding of it. The

better understanding of something can allow us to change the bad for the better or add to

the good if need be. The big questions in philosophy are about the existence of god, our

own existence, morality, ethics, reality, life’s meaning, and knowledge. All question have

an ultimate goal to end pain and suffering whether it be in life or death. There have been

many philosophers who believe that they have figured out the solution to suffering in life

and death. They came up with guidelines and philosophies that would help people to be

good morally in turn be good for all of mankind. Siddhartha Gautama, K’ung-fu-Tzu, and

Lao Tzu all believed that their own ways were the most effective.

Buddha was born into a royal family who believed in the traditional teachings of

the Hindu religion. It involved reincarnation, karma, Brahmin priesthood, sacrificial

system, and the caste system. With god and goddess, the better you do in a previous life

the better your next life will be with a rich male being top of the food chain. Buddhism
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comes from the old Hindu beliefs of karma and reincarnation. His goal was to break the

cycle of reincarnation and to reach a state of nirvana to end suffering. He completely

discredited both systems and priesthood. Buddhism was meant to be practiced by anyone

not just wealthy males. He came to this realization when he saw the four forbidden sights

while fasting under a tree for forty nine days. Old age, sickness, and death were to

represent the suffering in the world and the monk who renounced the world represents

what he perceived as to how to end it. The first thing he realized was that from birth to

death all people have pain whether it be mental, physical or emotional. He went on to

believe that all pain comes from all of life’s desires. Than obviously to stop pain one

must stop desiring everything. Upon doing so that person would break the cycle of

reincarnation and reach nirvana. In addition to following the four noble truths you must

also follow the eight fold path. It is a guideline that Buddha came up with that you need

to live by in order to reach nirvana. You must have the right viewpoint. The right

viewpoint is basically always having to be on the better choice of an argument. The right

aspiration, which is a good and unselfish reason to become something better. The right

speech, the ability to be orally respectful and tact of others. The right behavior, being a

good person morally. The right occupation, being in a position that helps others. The right

effort, a good work ethic to achieve your goal. The right mindfulness, being considerate

of others and objects. Last the right meditation, correctly performing what is needed to

reach nirvana.

K’ung-fu-Tzu was latinized to Confucius by a European named Jesuit Matteo

Ricci. Confucius was born in the poverty level of his time. He was able to work his way
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up to justice minister of Lu, his city’s government. During that time he saw how corrupt

his government had been. Realizing he had grown up in a corrupt government, than later

working for the same government, Confucius wanted to change how a government should

be towards its people. His teachings were not actually recorded in writing till after his

death by his disciples called the analects of Confucius In the analects of Confucius he

explains how to reach his ultimate goal of good government through a compilation of

brief and to the point quotes. We now know these today as the quotes of wisdom in

fortune cookies. His main focus was superiority of personal exemplification over explicit

rules of behavior. He believed that people would obey laws just to avoid punishment and

find a loop hole to get away with whatever law they break. He wanted the punishment for

breaking a law be in the persons shame that he felt when he disappointed the government.

After coming home from court one day he found his horse stable burnt down to the

ground, at that time a horse was a sign of wealth, the first thing he asked was anyone hurt.

By him saying this he demonstrated that a sage values human beings over property. He

wanted peoples natural morality (li) rather than punishment be the reason a government

and its people can coexist peacefully. Li comes hand in hand with a goodness or beauty

that is jen. A general human virtue of good morals that he saw was applied in a family

setting. A son not wanting to shame his father and vice versa can also be applied to a

government and its people to end suffering and wrong doings. For this to happen every

individual needs to return a sense of equilibrium in himself in turn will retain order in

every other aspect of life such as family, relationships, state, world and universe. Much

like the golden rule of the main religions he summed this concept into the silver rule. Do
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not do to others what you do not want done to you.

The literal translation of Lao Tzu is old master. He worked as keeper of archives

for the royal court of Chou. He was tired of seeing the moral fibers his city rot away and

noticed the decline of the kingdom, so he left it to be a hermit till he reached 160 years

old. Before leaving the kingdom a guard had stopped him and asked if he could record his

teachings, as legend has it. Also known as Laozi, the old masters teachings of Dao, way

or path, focuses on the non action (wu wei) of humanism and emptiness. He encouraged

people to return to a natural state rather than action. He explains this as best he can

through the Daodejing. Dao, first of all, is an indefinable, unseen but not transcendent,

force in the universe that interlocks all thing as one including space and time. No one

thing is more or less significant than the other. The goal of Dao is to get aligned with it,

simply just to live. Avoid all materialistic things and worldly status. By wu wei will

return you to Dao. When Dao was first introduced it was a philosophy known as the

Daojia. Through out the years of many followers it had become religious known as

Daojiao. Incorporating prayer and preaching to help people abide by it and reach Dao

through their everyday lives. Where as before you reach Dao by not doing anything.

Buddha and Lao Tzu almost had the same concept of just living very simple.

Avoiding all desires and materialistic things will help reach their ultimate end result. Both

of their philosophies ended up being religions when they were not intended to be. Buddha

did not have a text to explain his teachings. He just taught others how to reach his goal of

nirvana. While Lao Tzu wrote a book trying to explain others how to return to Dao

without doing anything. He did not have any real guidelines on how to return to Dao just
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do nothing.

Buddha and Confucius had many differences. Buddha emphasized the individual

and Confucius emphasized the social order. Buddha’s end goal was to reach a state of

nirvana and Confucius wanted a good government for everyone. Buddha believed that

pain was a deterrent to reaching nirvana where as Confucius believed pain should not be

received by punishment but by shame. Buddhism was based on karma and reincarnation

and Confucius was based on a better government. They both, however, did not want to be

seen as a god or deity but as an example of what they believed. They did not want to start

religions, even though they both turned out that way. Both were simple guidelines for a

sort of social order. They both focused on ethics and good morals.

Confucius and Lao Tzu both wanted a sense of all for one and one for all.

Confucius wanted people to feel shame for their actions and Lao Tzu believed there

should be no action. Confucius had the silver rule to follow as a guideline and Lao Tzu

had no guidelines. Just like Buddhism they both did not want to start a religion though

that is how they both ended up. Confucius had a goal of li and jen for a good government

and social order where Lao Tzu did not have an end goal you just return to Dao. They

both wanted to be an example of their teachings not to be a god or deity of their religion.

All of these philosophies have some good points and all want good end results,

but they also have flaws I do not agree with. Buddha believes in reincarnation and karma.

I believe once we die we no longer exist. We do not have to break a cycle or have to try to

reach nirvana it just happens naturally. Not all pain and desires are bad. To know what

the true meaning of joy is one must feel pain. I desire to be successful in life and to let go
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of that desire I would be living as a bum under bridge which is a bad way to live and adds

a different type of pain, failure. It is a contradictory and unfulfilling philosophy. One will

never be able to reach nirvana for the simple fact that the desire to reach nirvana is a

desire in itself. For argument sake mere chance that you do reach nirvana you will never

know because you no longer exist. Confucius concept of good social order is what

everyone should naturally strive for, but to reach that goal is impossible. Not everyone

would believe in the idea and would not go along with the peace, for example criminals.

The reason their criminals is because they do not conform with the rules and regulations

of society and if you base a government on shame than all the good people would be over

run by those who have no shame. Thus breaking the whole social order. Lao Tzu

philosophy reminds me of the Nike slogan just do it. By not doing anything you return to

Dao. In Dao all is one and one is all and you act without thinking of your action because

we are all one. If that was the case chaos will rule the world because we would no longer

worry about disturbing the natural force of anything because we are part of that force.

Therefore by not thinking of doing what we do is good, bad, right, or wrong. We just do

what naturally comes to us perfect example is the animal kingdom. Animals do what they

do without thinking of doing it. To them its just the natural way of things because they

have no concept of existence.

The great thing about philosophy is that it is an open ended discussion. There is

no such thing as right and wrong. It helps people, with a series of realizations, understand

things through out their lives that they had questions about or could not apprehend the

concept of before. There are many philosophies out there that can be scrutinized and
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critiqued in a way that someone else might interpret differently and come to a new

realization that will begin a whole new philosophy. After being exposed to philosophy

you will come to realize that your life as you know it is a lot more four dimensional

beyond your senses and what you have learned before through out life. The meaning of

philosophy literally means the love of wisdom. When studying philosophy you definitely

become more wiser at a younger age than what you should be. Making you a bit

knowledgeable and educated than your peers in general about every aspect of life. It is

recommended to never leave anything unquestioned.


Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. 2010

Barker, Christopher. Philosophy 101. Arizona Western College. Learning resource building room 251. Yuma, AZ. January 10, 2010. Class lecture

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