10 Interesting Facts about Legalism

[Han Feis] Leaders, empty of thoughts, desires, their own supporters, who deal with nothing else in the situation but “facts”, select their ministers by objectively comparing their abilities with the requirements of the offices. Inactive, doing nothing, he waits for their suggestions, compares the project with the results and rewards or punishes. His own knowledge, ability, moral worth, warrior spirit, whatever they may be, are completely irrelevant; It simply fulfills its function in the impersonal mechanism of the state. [140]: 288 “In another respect, legalism and Confucianism have common ground. It was in the anti-aristocratic impulse of Shang Yang`s policy and Han Feizi`s theoretical formulation. Shang Yang`s legalism was the greatest of all the intellectual forces that contributed to the only revolutionary change that “all” philosophical schools agreed to be desirable: the destruction of the aristocratic system that had attributed power and prestige to people on the basis of birth throughout the Shang and Zhou eras. Shang Yang, although himself of noble birth, was the greatest and most effective enemy of the aristocratic class. His reforms in Qin paralyzed the local nobility and reinforced the growing belief that, with the sole exception of the need for a powerful hereditary ruler, the role people should play in society should be determined solely by merit and not by birth. (This is a belief that is now so well established in much of the modern world that we sometimes lose track of the difficulty and duration of the process of reversing belief in the hereditary nature of self-worth.) What other schools hated about Shang Yang was not his “meritocratic” principles, but the legalistic definition of what constituted “merit.” For Shang Yang, merit simply meant a combination of absolute obedience to the dictates of the state and competence to perform the tasks assigned by the state to its advantage. This notion of merit was very different from that envisaged by the other three schools.

The crudeness of the concept and its view of the individual as organically linked only to the state and not to the family and community made legalism a disdainful system of thought for most later thinkers. /+/ “Confucius advocates royal power based on morality and tradition. Moral education and self-cultivation would bring a restoration of good society. These ideas stand in direct contrast to the legalistic measures of bureaucratic administration and punishment, the political instruments most favored by rulers in the time of Confucius. The legalistic response to this argument is powerful. Han Fei (280-33 BC), one of the leading voices of legalism, presented the example of an unruly boy. All the remonstrances of his parents, neighbors and teachers for the good fail. But once the district judge sends soldiers to enforce the law, the sheer force of terror causes him to reform his behavior. What all the moral suasion of a loving family and tradition could not achieve, the bureaucratic state does in one fell swoop. Apart from crises and bloodshed, the Warring States period was also a time full of opportunities for intellectually active individuals. It was an extraordinarily dynamic period, marked by new beginnings and profound changes in all areas of life. Politically, the loose aristocratic units of the spring and autumn period have been replaced by centralized, bureaucratized territorial states (Lewis, 1999).

Economically, the introduction of iron utensils (Wagner 1993) revolutionized agriculture, allowed higher yields, led to the development of vacant land and led to population growth, as well as the acceleration of urbanization and commercialization of the economy. Militarily, new technologies such as crossbows, as well as new forms of military organization, led to the replacement of aristocratic armies led by tanks by mass infantry armies led by peasant conscripts, leading to a radical increase in the scale and complexity of warfare (Lewis 1999). And socially, the hereditary aristocracy that dominated the Zhou world for much of the Bronze Age (c. 1500-400 BC) was the hereditary aristocracy. Chr.) was overshadowed by a much wider layer of shi 士 (sometimes translated as “service men”) who owed their position primarily to their abilities rather than their pedigree (Pines 2013c). These profound changes required new approaches to a variety of administrative, economic, military, social and ethical issues: old truths needed to be reconsidered or reinterpreted. For intellectuals who wanted to deal with a variety of new issues – and especially for legalists – it was a golden age. Teaching people to “just sing and sing about war” could easily refer to the military indoctrination we encounter in other countries that have deployed mass armies. But the book of Lord Shang never talks about it, for example.

the cult of the martial spirit, the dehumanization of the enemy, the identification of martiality with masculinity and similar means used elsewhere in militarist education. On the contrary, for Shang Yang and other contributors to “his” book, “teaching” simply means internalization by people of the fact that the only way to satisfy their desires for wealth and glory is to excel in war. Hence the war, which elsewhere in the book is openly linked to what people hate (Shang jun shu 18:108; Book of the Lord Shang 18:2), becomes the center of the people`s aspirations. “Teaching” is therefore not a matter of ideological indoctrination; It is only a matter of deliberately adhering to the government`s policies. What is called the “Union of Doctrine” is that. Fathers and older brothers, friars minor, acquaintances, parents through marriage and colleagues all say, “What we should be defending is just war and that`s it.” That is what I call, your minister, the “Doctrine Association.” The people`s desire for wealth and nobility ceases only when their coffin is sealed. And entering the gates of wealth and nobility must be done through military service. So when they hear about war, people congratulate each other; Whenever they move or rest, drink or eat, they just sing and sing about war. (Shang jun shu 17:105; Book of the Lord Shang 17:4) By having the philosophy of legalism in the land, the weak ruler will be strong and powerful if the law is successfully applied in the life of society. Citizens will be afraid to flout the law.

Guided by legalistic thinking, the first Qin Qin Emperor Shi Huang conquered and united China`s warring states into thirty-six administrative provinces, under what is generally considered china`s first empire, the Qin Dynasty. The Qin document, “On the Road to Being an Official,” proclaims the ideal official as a reactive channel that relays the facts of his territory to the court and his orders without involving his own will or ideas. He ordered the official to obey his superiors, to limit his wishes and to build roads to facilitate the transmission of instructions from the center without modification. He praises loyalty, lack of bias, reverence and evaluation of facts. [81] Some people believe that legalism and Confucianism can be seen as a mix within government. There are many legalistic ideas influenced by the mainstream of Confucian ideas. Check the facts of Confucianism in detail. The revival of legalism took place during the Sui Dynasty. At that time, the ruler had an attempt to reunite China. The sentence had been lowered by the Tang government, even though legalism was part of the system.

Now, Shen Buhai has talked about the need for Shu (“technical”) and Shang Yang practices the use of Fa (“Standards”). What Shu calls is creating positions based on responsibility, holding real services accountable according to official titles, exercising power over life and death, and examining the abilities of all his ministers; These are the things that the sovereign holds in his hands.

Comments are closed.