Taoism arose in China about five centuries before the Common Era. The word Taoism is now applied to many things in Chinese culture, including religious rituals, divination, alchemy, and a world-view. This entry focuses on the Taoist worldview and its connections with humor.

Chinese Worldviews

Several scholars have argued that the religions and worldviews of China, including Taoism, are more hospitable to humor than the monotheistic religions of the West. The God of the Bible and the Qur’an is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator, lawgiver, and judge. He has the single correct understanding of things, he dictates what is right and wrong, and he determines everyone’s eternal fate. The gods of China, by contrast, lack this perfection and power. They are more like fallible human beings—indeed, many of ...

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