Equality and the prevalence of the social over the individual are the principal notions of the Eastern philosophy as opposed to the Western one. The morality of social leaders and their efforts in learning to be moral and suppress the instincts and unfairness are the key factors of noble rulers. Such dogmas also comprise the religious concepts of many Chinese. The groundings of the philosophical view of Lao Zi and Confucius correlate to the leadership conceptions of the modern world. Confucian conception attains moral virtues to the rulers and underlines the importance of upbringing. The society governed by intellectuals will promote morality and reason as supreme values and principal factors for the evolution. Unlike Confucianism, Daoism stresses that the ruler should remain empty and undeveloped as Dao itself is empty. The disciplined morality and the superior virtue depict the typical trait of a perfect leader able to provide harmonious progress of the society due to the interrelation of different events in ying-yang conception.
The Consideration on Morality and Upbringing in Lao Zi and Confucius
The primary concept in Daoism philosophy is the virtue. In the ancient texts, Lao Zi distinguishes superior and inferior virtues (Laozi & Lynn, 1999). The superior virtue is spontaneous as it connects to Dao, which is impromptus and empty, whereas the interior virtue exists separately from Dao and demands conscious effort to do something, therefore it “comes out of something” (Laozi & Lynn,1999, p. 120). The interior virtue is opposite to the superior one and proves to be wrong and peculiar for people who are devoid of virtues such as benevolence, or goodness. Therefore, individuals with the interior virtue seek the possibility to achieve the mentioned traits and mostly fail.
Criticizing the inferior virtue as superficial, one concerns the changeable human nature. When a person does something evil, he/she loses the virtue and thus has to attain it again by doing good. Any moral trait functions in connections with Dao. Still, becoming good means constant self-improvement, the ability to resist the evil, and do good things to others. Being good according to Confucius means being humble:
He who aims to be a man of complete virtue in his food does not seek to gratify his appetite, nor in his dwelling place does he seek the appliances of ease; he is earnest in what he is doing, and careful in his speech (The Analects of Confucius, 2010, p. 19).
In this aspect, the upbringing of humbleness is peculiar for the supreme virtue in Daoism. Yet, the upbringing of morality presupposes the effort and work that is inconsistent with the norms described by Lao Zi. If the philosopher says that the internal virtue anticipates the effort, thus it is active side of an individual applied at the absence of morality. The supreme virtue is passive and reluctant side that does not interfere with Dao and exists at its presence. As Lao Zi considers that Dao is the beginning of everything, it “comprises true, authentic, unchangeable laws ruling all things” (Ma & Tsui, 2015, p.14), the real leader should possess the supreme virtue.
Confucian conception oversees the upbringing and formation of moral traits connected to simplicity and refusal from personal needs in favor of social ones. Helping others and showing kindness and support expresses moral virtues of an individual. Showing concern and making effort to help is important for rulers. It is more relevant behavior for a person that makes decisions unlike the reluctant position inherent in most Western leadership models.
When considering Daoism, L. Ma and A. S. Tsui (2015) characterize in their study the additional efforts as counterproductive. The leaders acting according to this model assume responsibility and act naturally rather than reluctantly. Daoism acts metaphorically similarly to water. It can remain calm and does not interfere. Yet, the leaders following Daoism are powerful and can attack and destroy (Ma & Tsui, 2015).
The karmic order of reason and consequence implies that people who support Confucianism act kindly to others: “What I do not wish men to do to me; I also wish not to do to men” (The Analects of Confucius, 2010, p. 112). The philosopher underlines that punishments provoke breaking the law, whereas the interaction based on moral norms will eradicate unfairness and crimes (Yuhan & Chen, 2013). Confucius calls virtuous and ethical people ‘Junzi,’ which means ‘perfect man.’ Such people are the specimen of behavior. They usually belong to the upper class, and their moral traits are supreme and perfect (Yuhan & Chen, 2013).
Compared to people of superior virtue, in Daoism such personalities cultivate sincerity, benevolence, filial piety, righteousness, integrity, forgiveness, and courage. At the same time, Daoist individuals of supreme virtues do not show their virtues as they are visible. They ‘oppose active and counterproductive actions’ (Ma & Tsui, 2015, p. 16). On the contrary, Confucian leaders work hard to become better and use self-reflection by asking themselves whether they behave in a good manner to others.
The best version of leadership techniques should involve both superior and inferior virtues. Both of them help to form moral personality. The Daoism mystical conception of doing nothing and remaining innocent is controversial as it is impossible to be virtuous doing nothing.
The Ying Yang Conception in the Chinese Philosophy and Its Application in Modernity
Ying Yang philosophy denotes the unity of the opposites which produces harmony. It predetermines the unity of contradictory forces. The Ying-Yang sign represents the harmony of white (Ying) and black (Yang) forces. Ying element denotes masculinity, activeness, and courage, whereas the black color represents femininity. Every person combines both principles in character. Concerning classical elements, water introduces Yang, the calm part of Ying-Yang, while the wind expresses Ying. Their interdependence and conflict creates unity and struggle of the opposites that takes place in human thoughts, character, behavior as well as events and processes. The change of seasons, following interchange of days and nights as well as cyclic repetition of the calendar is a result of Ying-Yang impact.
Confucian conceptions predetermine several methods of self-improvement. Self-cultivation involves having ideals, effort in learning, and introspection. Apart from self-cultivation, the personal growth, according to Confucianism, includes enlightening and practice. The three components of the first method include the application of the individual approach of action according to personal traits (Yuhan & Cheng, 2013). Idle and calm people develop courage and activity and therefore raise their ‘Ying,’ whereas active and brave personalities cultivate carefulness and reason, the ‘Yang’ component. The absence of love for learning in developing a particular moral trait led to raising its opposite. The learning process created the balance of traits and harmonious personality. Educated intellectuals had to be versed in different kinds of behavior to be able to regulate the unfairness and act according to the situation. The karma conception functions in the system of Ying-Yang. Thus, the avoidance of cruelty by a person meant that he/she will not experience the cruelty him-/herself. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the basic principle of karma, which tells that every action will get a corresponding reward. The circular symbol of Ying-Yang shows the renewal, or return, of a particular force during some time.
Remembering the karma, most people did not intend to speak about some actions but rather did something. According to the belief, the meaning of words materialized on them after some time (Yuhan & Cheng, 2013).
When discussing the impact of Ying-Yang on Daoism, the principles show that Ying-Yang actually create harmony in Dao. Their interchange creates the continuousness and nature of things. The unity of Ying and Yang produces Tao, or Dao (Mattsson & Tidström, 2015). They transform into each other in a dynamic duality. Ying element is active, while Yang is passive. Nevertheless, each of them contains a part of its opposite. The functioning of the Dao and the succession of events occurs with the participation of both sides of Ying-Yang when they are active. According to Daoism principles, Ying-Yang is not a balance and equality of both elements but harmony. For some time, either of the forces remains predominant. Yet, both of them are interdependent (Mattsson & Tidström, 2015).
According to Lao Zi (2008), all creatures have Ying and ‘embrace Yang” (p. 42). In most cases, people call the ruler ‘a man of no virtue’ or’ a lonely man’ (Zi, 2008). At the same time, rulers are virtuous as the devoted leaders try their best for the community, and they are selfless. The changeability of the constant state of things provokes the changeable behavior of leaders that determine to follow and preserve the natural state of things. Considering the above mentioned, the metaphorical comparison of the leader’s personality to water reflects the Ying-Yang changeability of water from calm to strong during the storms. Therefore, the Ying-Yang conception directly determines the nature of things governed by Dao.
Just like water, the reluctance of most superior virtue individuals means flexibility rather than idleness as one of the Ying-Yang principles is constant change. The balancing of the opposite active and passive forces creates harmony, which is possible only in Dao. Therefore, as Dao is the beginning of all the creation, the principles of Ying-Yang completely penetrate into the society. Any social processes and the development of the society predetermine the change from the period of calm and balance to some revolutions.
The market processes demonstrate Ying-Yang implementation. The competitiveness and cooperation of companies on the market represent the balance and contradiction of the two opposite processes. They are the leading force for the market development. L. G. Mattsson and A. Tidström (2015) represent market development as a dynamic process between buyers and sellers. The cooperation procedures on the European-based market change into competitiveness. Several northern European companies Alfa, Beta, Cito, and Delta run business in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Since 1960, Alfa and Beta were competitors. Yet, in 1999 Alfa initiated cooperation, because it aimed to higher the revenue. Then Alfa provided Beta with its marketplaces in Finland, Sweden, and Norway. As each firm had its advantages, their production met the requirements of different end users, so they did not compete but cooperate.
In conclusion, the Chinese philosophical conceptions find their reflection in many Western social and business models. The ancient principle of prevalence of the social over the individual proves to be the right conception for promoting development and change. The modern principles of Ying-Yang implementation demonstrate the way of market fluctuations and general changeability in business development. Many personal traits comprise the ying-yang components. Each trait of character is not completely virtuous as it has both good and bad side. All of them remain natural as they comprise harmony though remain imperfect.