Shen Dao

From Academic Kids

Shen Dao (simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese: 慎到) (ca 350 BC-275 BC) was an itinerant Chinese philosopher from Zhao who also served at the Jixia academy in Qi. His own original writings have been lost, and he is known largely through short references and the writings of others, notably Han Feizi and Zhuang Zi.

The most noteworthy aspect of Shen Dao's philosophy is the fact that it represented a synthesis of Taoist and Legalist thought. While these two schools may seem quite opposed to each other in some regards, they both share a view of nature as a fundamentally amoral force, and by extension, reality as an arena without set moral imperative -- a stance that differentiates both schools from Confucianism.

In Confucianism, power is legitimized through superior moral character and wisdom. According to Shen Dao, authority arises and is sustained due to the nature of actual circumstances, rather than in accordance with an abstract set of moral values. Things simply flow based on the natural course of The Way (the Tao), and do not arrange themselves so as to conform to an ethical system. Through this idea, it is possible to see a bridge between the mystical simplicity of Taoism and the cynical realism of Legalism.

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