What are some similarities and differences between the Chinese concept of Dao in Daoism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao) versus the South African concept of Ubuntu (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_(philosophy))?

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    In your question title you say "Chinese Dao" but in the body you restrict it to how it is used in Daoism (the term is actually used by all major schools of Chinese philosophy). Do you want to ask specifically about Daoism?
    – virmaior
    Jun 22, 2017 at 1:21
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    Ubuntu is, as the Wikipedia page says, "a is a Nguni Bantu term meaning "humanity". It is often also translated as "humanity towards others", but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity". The Dao is not a material substratum but the source of all consciousness - and not limited to humanity. The first is a sociological concept, the second is a philosophical concept. There might have been some practical interpretations of the Dao in Confucianism but beyond that they are not related. Nov 2, 2017 at 7:22
  • @Swami Vishwananda - I would rather say that all expressions of the unity of consciousness are directly connected, and would agree with Schopenhauer that they are the 'breakthrough of a metaphysical truth'. It seems to me very likely that Ubuntu is connected to Tao, and to Nirvana, Unity, God and even Kant''s 'thing in itself'. The truth will out, as they say.
    – user20253
    Nov 2, 2017 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


If I understand the question correctly I believe you are referring to the totality of Dao within Daoism. @virmaior is correct that Tao/Dao is used in other Chinese philosophies as well but we shall limit this discussion to only Taoism (see Confucianism ethical Dao)

Dao is something unexplainable/beyond comprehension (words can not adequately describe the totality of Dao) but it is within everything and is the fundamental energy all things share. The Inner Chapters are an excellent starting point to understanding Daoist Dao.

I believe that Ubuntu is generally more like the Confucius concept of Dao. The idea of ethical/moral treatment of others to be a key to humanity is more concerned with the acts of individuals and not the all encompassing energy of Daoist Dao. (from my small understanding of Ubuntu, so if someone knows more please comment and correct me)

  • Not a correction but... the ethical treatment of others would be directly motivated by the all-encompassing nature of Consciousness, thus the shared identity of sentient beings. You may be right about Ubuntu being more Confucian than to do with the Inner Chapters, but under the surface I suspect it all bubbles up from the same source. .
    – user20253
    Nov 2, 2017 at 12:06
  • My understanding is that that would be a Daoist perspective on treatment of others, by following Dao's natural order one would treat others in a way that falls in line with basic ethical and moral treatment. For Confucians Dao its more of the Daotong or the Confucian way to restore the dao.. which definitely bubbles up to the overall ideal. 2 different perspectives that lead to the same ideal Dao Nov 3, 2017 at 17:44

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