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Taoism, or Daoism (from Chinese tao or dao, “the way”), philosophy that originated in China (c.300 B.C.); also, a religion that had its beginnings c.100 B.C. Taoism as a philosophy is chiefly derived from 2 books: the Lao-tzu (renamed Tao Te Ching, The Classic of the Way and the Virtue), traditionally ascribed to Lao-tzu, and the Chuang-tzu. The Lao-tzu is a collection of writings by several unknown authors containing ideas that are in direct opposition to the Confucian philosophy. Confucianism stresses a life guided by definite rules of conduct, whereas Taoism emphasizes simplicity and spontaneity. Tao was considered impossible to describe save in cryptic imagery. Chinese literature and art were greatly influenced by Taoism.

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