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Han Fei Tze on Good Government

Han Fei Tze on Good Government

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  • II.1 The Life of Han Feizi
  • II.2 Han Feizi: the Legalist
  • II.3 Policies
  • II.4 Laws/ fa
  • II.5 Methods of Governing: The Two Handles (H, ch.7) (二柄)
  • II.6 The Rise of the Legalists
  • II.7 The Legalist and the Daoists
  • II.8 Han Fei’s Views on Human Nature
  • II.9 The Influence of Han Feizi
  • II.10 The Unification: the Chin Dynasty (221-206B.C.)
  • II.11 Policies of Chin
  • II.12 The Decline of Chin
  • II.13 Long-term Influence of Chin
  • II.14 Passages from the Han Feizi Ch. 5 The Way of the Ruler主道

Han Fei-tzu (d.

233 BCE): Legalist Views on Good Government The Confucian ideal of "government through virtue" and the tendency of Confucianists to seek guidance in the rule of former kings was strongly criticized by another school of thought: the Legalists or School of Law. According to the Legalists, neither the wisdom of ancient kings nor an ethical code would make a state strong. Instead "good" and "bad" were defined by whatever the self-interest of the ruler demanded. A system of harsh punishments and rewards, regulated through laws and enforced without exceptions, should guarantee good behavior within the state. The Legalists considered military service and agriculture as the only occupations beneficial to the welfare of the state and discouraged all scholarship. The state of Qin in Western China was the first to adopt Legalist doctrines. The Qin were so successful that by 221 BCE they had conquered the other Chinese states and unified the empire after centuries of war. The following paragraph was taken from Han Fei-tzu, The "[book of] Master Han Fei," chapter 50. Han Fei-tzu had studied under the Confucian scholar Hsun-tzu and became the major theorist of the Legalist school. Confucian scholars vigorously denounced his teachings in all subsequent generations; yet his harsh pragmatism, often compared to that of Machiavelli and Kautilya, more accurately explains the actions of many rulers than does the idealistic Confucian model. What attitude does Han Fei express toward the common people? What kinds of stern measures does he suggest should be enacted for their own good? When a sage governs a state, he does not rely on the people to do good out of their own will. Instead, he sees to it that they are not allowed to do what is not good. If he relies on people to do good out of their own will, within the borders of the state not even ten persons can be counted on [to do good]. Yet, if one sees to it that they are not allowed to do what is not good, the whole state can be brought to uniform order. Whoever rules

should consider the majority and set the few aside: He should not devote his attention to virtue, but to law. If it were necessary to rely on a shaft that had grown perfectly straight, within a hundred generations there would be no arrow. If it were necessary to rely on wood that had grown perfectly round, within a thousand generations there would be no cart wheel. If a naturally straight shaft or naturally round wood cannot be found within a hundred generations, how is it that in all generations carriages are used and birds shot? Because tools are used to straighten and bend. But even if one did not rely on tools and still got a naturally straight shaft or a piece of naturally round wood, a skillful craftsman would not value this. Why? Because it is not just one person that needs to ride and not just one arrow that needs to be shot. Even if without relying on rewards and punishments there would be someone doing good out of his own will, an enlightened ruler would not value this. Why? Because a state's law must not be neglected, and not just one person needs to be governed. Therefore, the skilled ruler does not go after such unpredictable goodness, but walks the path of certain success. . . . Praising the beauty of Ma Ch'iang or Hsi shih (1) (See footnotes) does not improve your own face. But using oil to moisten it, and powder and paint will make it twice as attractive. Praising the benevolence and righteousness of former kings does not improve your own rule. But making laws and regulations clear and rewards and punishments certain, is like applying oil, powder and paint to a state. An enlightened ruler holds up facts and discards all that is without practical value. Therefore he does not pursue righteousness and benevolence, and he does not listen to the words of scholars. These days, whoever does not understand how to govern will invariably say: "Win the hearts of the people." If winning the hearts of the people is all that one needs in order to govern, a Yi Yin or a Kuan Chung (2) would be useless. Listening to the people would be enough. But the wisdom of the

people is useless: They have the minds of little infants! If an infant's head is not shaved, its sores will spread, and if its boil is not opened, it will become sicker. Yet while its head is being shaved and its boil opened, one person has to hold it tight so that the caring mother can perform the operation, and it screams and wails without end. Infants and children don't understand that the small pain they have to suffer now will bring great benefit later. Likewise, if the people are forced to till their land and open pastures in order to increase their future supplies, they consider their ruler harsh. If the penal code is being revised and punishments are made heavier in order to wipe out evil deeds, they consider their ruler stern. If light taxes in cash and grain are levied in order to fill granaries and the treasury so that there will be food in times of starvation and sufficient funds for the army, they consider their ruler greedy. If it is required that within the borders everybody is familiar with warfare, that no one is exempted from military service, and that the state is united in strength in order to take all enemies captive, the people consider their ruler violent. These four types of measures would all serve to guarantee order and peace, yet the people do not have the sense to welcome them. Therefore one has to seek for an enlightened [ruler] to enforce them. (1) The beauty of these women is proverbially famous. (2) Ancient Chinese statesmen famous for their wisdom. Translated by Lydia Gerber

Han Fei. A Legalist Writer: Selections from The Writings of Han Fei (c. 230 BCE)

from W.L. Liano, trans, The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu, (London: Arthur Probsthain, 1939), pp. 40, 45-47 repr. in Alfred J. Andrea and James H. Overfield, The Human Record: Sources of Global History, Vol 1, 2d. ed., (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994), pp. 95-97

[Andrea Introduction] Daoism offered no active political program, whereas Confucius and his disciples preached a doctrine of benevolent reform based on virtuous imitation of the past. A third school of thought that emerged in the chaos of the late Zhou era was Legalism, which rejected both the Way of nature, as embraced by Daoists, and Confucianism's emphasis on the primacy of the moral way of antiquity. Legalist writers, to the contrary, emphasized law as governmenst formulative force and advocated a radical restructuring of society in ways that were totally rational and up-to-date. Legalism reached its apogee in the late third century B.C. in the writings of Han Feizi (Master Han Fei) and the policies of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. Han Fei was a prince of the stare of Han who defected to its chief rival, the state of Qin, but eventually he ran afoul of Qin's chief minister, Li Si (d. 208 BCE) and was forced to commit suicide in 233 BCE. Before he died, he composed a number of essays on how to construct a stable and peaceful state. The following selections present Han Fei's major principles of political philosophy. HAVING REGULATIONS No country is permanently strong. Nor is any country permanently weak. If conformers to law are strong, the country is strong; if conformners to law are weak, the counrry is weak.... Any ruler able to expel private crookedness and uphold public law, finds the people safe and the state in order; and any ruler able to expunge private action and act on public law, finds his army strong and his enemy weak. So, find out men following the discipline of laws and regulations, and place chem above the body of officials. Then the sovereign cannot be deceived by anybody with fraud and falsehood....

the sovereign will become strong and able to maintain the proper course of government. THE TWO HANDLES The means whereby the intelligent ruler controls his ministers are two handles only. To govern the state by law is to praise the right and blame the wrong. all ministers will dread his severity and turn to his liberality. to correct the faults of the high. to straighten the crooked. the wise cannot reject nor can the brave defy. able men cannot be obscured. is called chastisement. the superiors are esteemed and not violated. to bestow encouragements or rewards on men of merit. The villainous ministers of the age are . to rebuke obscenity and danger. Should the lord of men discard law and practice selfishness.. wrongly defamed people cannot be degraded. nothing could match penalty. Such was the reason why the early kings esteemed Legalism and handed it down to posterity.. high and law would have no distinction. is called commendation. falsely praised fellows cannot be advanced.. and to unify the folkways of the masses. reward for good never misses commoners. the noble cannot discriminate against the humble. In consequence. and to forbid falsehood and deceit.Whatever the law applies to.Therefore. nothing could match the law. If the superiors are not violated. co rebuke the vices of the low. to suppress disorders. What are meant by chastisement and commendation? To inflict death or torture upon culprits. to decide against mistakes. Therefore. He makes the law measure merits and makes no arbitrary regulation himself. To warn the officials and overawe the people. if the lord of men uses the handles of chastisement and commendation. bad characters cannot be disguised. to subdue the arrogant. lf law is definite. The law does not fawn on the noble. the intelligent sovereign makes the law select men and makes no arbitrary promotion himself. The two handles are chastisement and commendation. Therefore. Ministers are afraid of censure and punishment but fond of encouragement and reward. If penalty is severe. Punishment for fault never skips ministers.

" Han Fei-zi Unlike the other great Chinese philosophers of this era (Lao-zi. In Han Fei's ideal state what is the supreme governing authority. Han Fei-zi was a prince of the royal family in the state of Han. Why do you think Legalism appealed to some people? 5. Now supposing the lord of men placed the authority of punishment and the profit of reward not in his hands but let the ministers administer the affairs of reward and punishment instead. who considered Han the better student. according to Sima Qian's biography. To men they hate they would by securing the handle of chastisement from the sovereign ascribe crimes. This is the calamity of the ruler's loss of the handles of chastisement and commendation. Han Fei submitted his writings to the . QUESTIONS FOR ANALYSIS 1. on men they love they would by securing the handle of commendation From the sovereign bestow rewards. and a Legalist. and Xun-zi) who were impoverished noblemen.different. a Confucian. and turn to the ministers and away from the ruler. the will of the ruler or the law? 2. then everybody in the country would fear the ministers and slight the ruler. What are the "Two Handles" and how important are they to a legalist state? Why must the sovereign never surrender control over the two handles? 3. Confucius. How would each respond on the following issues: What is the purpose of good government? What role does morality play in formulating law? What are the qualities of a superior ruler? The proposition "Might makes right. What roles do individuality and private initiative play in Han Fei's ideal state? 4. Since he was not a good speaker. Imagine a series of conversations among a Daoist. Zhuang-zi. Mencius. He was born around 280 BC and studied under the Confucian realist Xun-zi at the Chi-Xia academy along with Li Si. Mo-zi.

Han Fei. unable to . but Li Si warned the king that Han Fei was of the royal family of Han and likely to remain loyal to that state and therefore be against Qin. Li Si argued against this theory to the king and sent poison to Han Fei in prison. who wanted to plead his case before the king. then the king could behead him as a warning to others. who informed his sovereign these writings were Han Fei's. Eventually the writings of Han Fei came to the attention of the young king of Qin. but Han Fei continued to complain that ambitious scholars and militarists were given prominence over honest gentlemen. However. Charges were brought against Han Fei. Han Fei declared that if his advice was followed and Qin did not gain hegemony. and their king An sent Han Fei as his envoy to Qin. who began ruling in 246 BC and went on to become the founding Emperor of the Qin dynasty. In contrast the people of Qin respect courageous death. but he was not allowed an audience. Han. because its counselors are not loyal. His prime minister was Han Fei's old friend Li Si. and it is a much more powerful country. which had formed out of Jin. and Wei. Nevertheless Qin has not yet gained hegemony. In another memorial Han Fei urged the king of Qin to treat Han as a loyal ally rather than an enemy so that the perpendicular alliance would not be mobilized against him. Shi Huang Di. did not apply them. In 234 BC Qin attacked the state of Han. Han Fei suggested that Qin could conquer the powerful Chu in the south and Qi and Yan in the east as well as the three states of Zhao. So Han Fei sent a written memorial in which he acknowledged the perpendicular alliance formed from a north-south line of countries against the western power of Qin. He recounted several times in history when Qin lost its opportunity to gain this hegemony. however. The king of Han.rulers of Han. because they have no faith in rewards and punishments. but he argued that they were weak and likely to run away in a confrontation. The king of Qin was delighted to meet the philosopher.

drank it and died in 233 BC. empty and still. letting names define themselves and affairs reach their own settlement. Han Fei-zi is the main representative of the school of philosophy called Fa-jia. the legalists or realists. Therefore the enlightened ruler holds fast to the beginning in order to understand the wellspring of all beings. The way is the beginning of all beings and the measure of right and wrong. Hence it is said: The ruler must not reveal his desires. His essay on the "Way of the Ruler" shows this relationship. it was too late.4 .communicate with the king. and minds the measure in order to know the source of good and bad. Although the king regretted his decision and pardoned Han Fei. It begins. Those whose duty it is to speak will come forward to name themselves. for if he reveals his desires his ministers will put on the mask that pleases him. being still. Han Fei-zi was also very much influenced by Daoism. Being empty. He waits. From the logicians he borrowed the theory of forms and names (xing-ming). When names and realities match. he can comprehend the true aspect of fullness. those whose duty it is to act will produce results. which he applied to politics as the correspondence between administrators' words and job descriptions and their actual functioning in practice. he can correct the mover. the ruler need do nothing more and the true aspect of all things will be revealed. making a strange combination of legalistic authoritarianism and passive acceptance. He drew the concept of law (fa) from the Book of Lord Shang and the idea of administration (shu) from the writings of Shen Buhai.

The way of the ruler is to observe calmly what others say and do without speaking or doing himself. No one must be allowed to covet his power in this authoritarian regime. Officials should not know what others are doing. The ruler practices inaction. He assigns tasks to ministers according to what they say and the accomplishments that result. the means of dispensing bounties and command. and his support. He notes proposals and examines their results. his reputation for enlightenment. Each person's words are to be compared with their results. The ruler should know but not let it be known that he knows. The officials have their regular duties. and the best ruler uses the people's wisdom. when things do not match. they are punished. Those whose deeds match their words are rewarded.Han Fei-zi did not want the ruler to be manipulated by his ministers. The inferior ruler uses his own ability. but the ruler is their corrector and maintains an untarnished reputation. but the ministers below tremble in fear. does not display his worth but observes the motives of the ministers. Thus ministers should not be allowed to shut out the ruler nor control the wealth of the state nor issue their own orders nor do good deeds in their own name nor build up cliques so that the ruler will not lose effectiveness. which is why he advised the sovereign not to reveal his will or express his likes and dislikes. and each is employed according to specific ability. The ruler is to be immeasurably great and unfathomably deep. and does not flaunt bravery in shows of indignation but allows subordinates to demonstrate their valor. while any attempt of ministers to form cliques is to be smashed. the average ruler uses the people's strength. The wise ruler does not expose his wisdom but has everyone know their place. The ruler takes credit for accomplishments but holds ministers responsible for their errors. These rewards and punishments must be dispensed objectively so that even those close to the ruler may be . The ruler uses the two handles of rewards and punishments to control others and examines results to see how they match his objectives. The ministers labor and display wisdom.

Ministers are to be like the hands and feet of the ruler. If law is not respected. He should hold attendants personally responsible for their words and not . Though a ruler may share his bed with beauties. Thus those in high positions will not abuse the humble. Han Fei-zi warned the ruler against eight villainies. nor should the lowest peasant's reward be skipped. and mind.punished and those far away can be sure of reward. nor will calumny drive others from the court. and faults will not be glossed over. If penalties are not enforced. evil cannot be overcome. "On Having Standards" explains that an enlightened ruler uses the law to select officials by weighing their merits without attempting to judge them himself. True worth will not remain hidden. Authority and power should never be in more than one place or else abuse will become rife. Praise will not help some advance. controvert the law with false doctrines. he should not listen to their special pleas. he can be manipulated by what is presented to him. If the ruler tries to monitor the government with his own eyes. and rights will not be invaded. If laws are clearly defined. all the ruler's actions will be endangered. Then even clever speakers could not deceive them. Nevertheless for Han Fei-zi what transcends even the ruler is the law. Thus all will have to make effort. Even the ruler must never use wise ministers and able servants for selfish ends so that the government can be consistent and good. Thus the ancient kings relied on law and policy to make sure that rewards and punishments were correctly implemented. ears. superiors will be honored. not presuming to use their mouths to speak for private advantage or their eyes to look for private gain. try to gain a name for themselves by doling out charity. and none can be too proud. or even those who withdraw from the world and criticize their superiors or seek favorable relations with other states in order to make themselves indispensable in a crisis. censure their sovereign. Even the highest minister must not be allowed to escape punishment. Han Fei-zi disdained those who leave their posts to search for another sovereign.

He should not allow kin and elder statesmen to escape appropriate punishment nor advance them arbitrarily. To fail to heed your loyal ministers when you are at fault. but rejected if they are not. Officials must not be allowed to have their own soldiers. To behave in a base and willful manner and show no courtesy to the other feudal lords. thereby plunging yourself into distress. and fail to learn from the remonstrances of your ministers. 6. acts which lead to the downfall of your line. 8. To become infatuated with women musicians and disregard state affairs. likewise the faults of those who are denounced. which leads to grave peril for yourself. perverse.allow them to speak out of turn. To take no account of internal strength but rely solely upon your allies abroad. 9. To be greedy. and requests of feudal lords should be granted if they are lawful. 7. To insult big powers even though your state is small. The list is as follows: 1. To fix your eye on a petty gain and thereby lose a larger one. thereby opening the way to the destruction of the state and your own demise. insisting upon having your own way. which places the state in grave danger of dismemberment. To practice petty loyalty and thereby betray a larger loyalty. but officials should not be allowed to use them to ingratiate themselves. 3. The true abilities of those who are flattered must be determined. thereby bringing about your own downfall. and too fond of profit. Military heroes should not be given unduly large rewards. and those who take up arms in a private quarrel must never be pardoned. despising the remonstrances of your ministers. which will in time destroy your good reputation and make you a laughing stock of others. In the essay "Ten Faults" Han Fei-zi listed them briefly and then gives numerous historical examples of each one. 2. Buildings may be constructed to delight the ruler. 5.5 . 4. Orders for doling out charity in time of need must never come from ministers but from the ruler. To leave the palace for distant travels. To give no ear to government affairs but long only for the sound of music. 10. thereby inviting the disaster of national destruction.

The most difficult part is to know the mind of the person one is trying to persuade so that fitting words can be used. he will pretend to listen but ignore you. For Han Fei-zi the wise governs by rectifying laws clearly and establishing severe penalties in order to prevent the strong from exploiting the weak and the many from oppressing the few. and you talk about virtue. If you talk about profit. for whoever trusts others will be controlled by them. even though they are hated by people. He believed that stupid people want order but dislike the true path to order. the ruler and minister are on intimate terms. and if one is talking to someone who wants profit. he will appear to reject your advice but secretly follow it.Han Fei-zi also wrote on the difficulties of persuading a ruler. If the ruler trusts his son or his consort. evil ministers may find ways to use them for their private . One does not talk about profit to one who is seeking a reputation for virtue. many of them quite dangerous for the advisor because of the insecurity of the sovereign. he nevertheless believed that this is in accord with the way. the difficulty is in knowing how to use what one knows. which he considered to be the severe penalties. to make sure frontiers are not invaded. it is useless to talk about virtue. This requires more than general knowledge and the ability to express oneself well. Thus many rulers are intimidated. and people do not worry about being killed in war or taken prisoner. to enable the old and infirm to die in peace and the young and orphans to grow freely. If the person secretly wants gain but claims to be virtuous. Although he acknowledged that the legalist who makes laws in the state acts contrary to prevailing public opinion. He concluded that it is not difficult to know something. and some are even murdered. and justice. and they never stop trying to spy into the sovereign's mind. but Han Fei-zi believed they endanger the state. In "Precautions within the Palace" Han Fei-zi wrote that it is dangerous for the ruler to trust others. Ministers have no blood bonds with their ruler. Mercy and pity are welcomed by the people. virtue. fathers and sons support each other. Han Fei-zi also discussed many other complicated situations.

the superior and inferior will change places.schemes. he must be punished even though he may have fulfilled his task with distinction. However. Thus no ministers should be allowed to borrow the power and authority of the ruler. This. will keep the subordinates responsible. but where public virtue is practiced. This. The . and eventually the people of Qin tore apart his body with two chariots. Writing on "Pretensions and Heresies. he believed." Han Fei-zi argued that it is the duty of the sovereign to establish the laws and standards of right and distinguish these from private interests. Yet the private virtue of ministers is to practice personal faith with friends and not be encouraged by reward or discouraged by punishment. Thus ministers must use their calculating minds to put aside selfish motives and serve the ruler. Local power groups then work to exempt people from labor service which enables their leaders to grow rich on bribes. and all favors will come from the sovereign. According to Han Fei-zi the ruler should be so strict that if what a minister says beforehand does not tally with what he says or does later. leads to disorder. The ruler must forbid private favors and enforce what is ordered. Han Fei-zi held that the ruler must be strict enough to put these theories into practice even though it means going against the will of the people. Thus the ruler should keep labor services minimal so that the power groups will disappear. there is order. but if they condemn the law as wrong. if too much compulsory labor is demanded of people. their creeds must be regarded as heresy and suppressed. He noted how Lord Shang had to be guarded with iron spears and heavy shields. When Guan Zhong first instituted his reforms in Qi. Han Fei-zi believed. Duke Huan had to ride in an armored carriage. their public duty is to obey orders and behave unselfishly in office. they will feel afflicted and join local power groups. Death penalties must be executed. Though ministers have selfish motives. Han Fei-zi was afraid that if the ruler lends even a little of his power to others. The ruler must make sure that no one receives unearned rewards nor oversteps their authority. Most ministers want to exalt their private wisdom. and no crime must go unpunished.

Han Fei-zi also recommended seven tactics to the sovereign and then gave historical examples of how they work. Second. Ostensibly the purpose of the last three is to help the ruler find out the truth by using indirect methods. The commentaries on the teachings of Lao-zi in the Han Fei-zi may have been by his followers in an era when legalism was trying to survive by merging with Daoism. punishments must be definite and authority clear. What could be more perverted than that? When Han Fei-zi's sage-king makes laws. If the pronouncements of the sovereign are clear and easy to understand. If the laws are easy to be observed. while the bad fade away and die. as when compassion is extended to military victory and defense in order to be compassionate to one's soldiers (What about the enemy's?) and even more absurdly to the weapons themselves. and his authority strong enough to subjugate the violent. The first is to compare and inspect all available and different theories. the rewards must be enough to encourage the good. the ruler should listen to all sides of every story and hold speakers responsible for their words. his preparation must be sufficient to accomplish his task. The fifth is to issue spurious edicts and pretend to make certain appointments. Some of the interpretations become rather absurd.ruler also calculates how to protect the state from injury by private interests and uses rewards and penalties to overawe them. the inferiors will obey the law. Third. In this system the good live on and flourish. . rewards are to be bestowed faithfully. If the superiors are not self-seeking. his promises can be kept. and seventh. one may inquire into cases by manipulating different information. Fourth. his orders will be effective. and everyone is to exercise their abilities. but the lack of integrity and damage to credibility certainly makes them questionable for the long term. words may be inverted and tasks reversed. but the last three use deception and manipulation to enhance the power of the ruler. So far these are clear and straightforward. Sixth.

Yet he was criticized by Han Fei-zi. He argued that heavy penalties are more likely to deter than light ones. and there is no chastisement more severe than that. Thus effective government cannot rely on virtue. He believed that if the punishment for desertion is heavy. and then compare their actions with their words. Duke Jing once asked a poor man about the prices in the market. but everyone loves profit and dislikes injury. He noted that the golddiggers in the south could not be stopped from stealing gold-dust even though some were caught and stoned to death in the marketplace. those not producing corresponding results should be punished. but shoes for the footless are expensive. Yen-zi replied that ordinary shoes are cheap. and then they will not commit major crimes at all. I believe the error in his logic is that he incorrectly generalizes that heavy penalties will stop all crimes. who argued that loosening censure and giving pardons benefit the crooks and injure the good and thus do not lead to political order. those that are not should be stopped. Thinking he was too cruel. which is not the case. but no one stumbles over a mountain. He argued that people will either ignore . Han Fei-zi did not consider personnel administration easy. Results matching proposals should be rewarded. no one will run away from the enemy. Han Fei-zi criticized those who believed that heavy penalties injure the people and are unnecessary. who had been busy inflicting many punishments (cutting off feet). Projects that are lawful should be carried out. and therefore they can prevent all crime. he abolished five laws of the criminal code. because light penalties can be used. Duke Jing. Thus he hoped that a strong government will not allow any serious crimes.Han Fei-zi argued that people can be deterred from even small crimes by serious penalties. He noted that people often trip on ant-hills. was embarrassed. Han Fei-zi believed that only about one person out of a hundred would act correctly simply out of virtue. but the ruler must regulate officials with rules and measures. Yet the problem is that criminals are not always caught no matter how vigilant the government may be.

Heroic swordsmen gather bands of followers and violate the government's prohibitions. By rewarding those . Rewards must not be delayed nor should mercy deflect the administering of punishment. Han Fei-zi pointed out that even the wise Confucius was subordinate to Duke Ai of Lu because of his authority. Persuaders present false schemes and borrow influence from abroad to further their private interests but injure the welfare of the state's land and grain. who could convince only seventy followers. Rather the enlightened ruler should make punishments certain as well as severe so that people will fear them. cornering markets.light penalties or trip on them like traps. This may be true. One method Han Fei-zi recommended for making rewards and punishments more effective was to have people watch each other and be responsible for reporting crimes in their community. put on a fair appearance but cast doubt on the laws of the time and confuse the ruler. accumulating wealth. Scholars. He realistically argued that the people and even kings are not able to rise to the goodness and justice of a Confucius. Praise accompanying the reward and censure following the punishment both stimulate people to do their best. Finally. Courtiers gather in private homes and bribe influential men to get out of military service. Punishments may need to be light but not because of compassion. and the ways of dealing with them must also change. Circumstances change. Here Han Fei-zi showed some flexibility but still did not waver from his calculated policy. Rewards should be generous and consistent so that people will seek them. The best laws are uniform and inflexible so that people understand them. but may not using heavy penalties like mountains lead to a monstrous society? Han Fei-zi described five kinds of customs as vermin. The wise ruler takes into consideration the scarcity or plenty of the time. which he felt caused a disordered state. who praise ancient kings for their virtue. artisans and merchants make and collect useless articles and luxuries. while severe penalties are not imposed because the ruler is cruel. and exploiting farmers.

which was actually a regression to primitive times. He brought these to the attention of the leaders in the powerful state of Qin. However. He furthermore based his philosophy of law on solid metaphysical foundations. whose authority is hence limitless and unquestionable. The principles (li) of Dao are manifested in the law. Social hierarchy also reflects cosmic principles and so is similarly unassailable. Han Feizi's fame derives from his astute and cynical analyses of political and social laws and . it was one of the reasons he was so unpopular and led to his death. was implemented by Lord Shang in Qin in the fourth century BC. is credited with synthesizing Shang Yang's and Shen Buhai's achievements." the Way) is embodied in the ruler. this innovation. the last and most sophisticated of the Warring States' Legalist thinkers. Han Fei-zi coldly and calculatingly suggested methods of behavioral modification as political theory under an authoritarian system of monarchy. which thus becomes the constant and unshakable foundation of human society.who denounce criminals and punishing those who refuse to do so as complicit. The monistic transcendent power of Dao ("Tao. Philosophical sophistication notwithstanding. where he became the first casualty of a policy that allows no one to challenge the authority of the ruler. he hoped that all kinds of culprits would be detected. borrowing ideas from the Daoist classic the Laozi (or Dao de jing). Han Feizi Han Feizi. Next we shall examine what happened when Qin implemented these ideas in its conquest of China.

Later Legalism [next] [back] Ancient China Legalism .html+han+fei+tzu+legalism&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk &gl=us#ixzz0WxOqTGLZ Han Feizi The writings of Han Feizi (c.jrank. neither his kin nor his closest friends.Shen Buhai Read more: http://74. Han Feizi actually claimed that he also cannot be trusted. and discuss the tactics which a ruler may employ in order to maintain supreme authority.C. Han Feizi was imprisoned and executed as a potential spy for his Han homeland. and mutual trust and morality are an anomaly. The ruler should trust neither the people nor his aides.org/pages/9952/Leg alism-Ancient-China-HanFeizi. being a minister himself. The treatises also describe the actions which a ruler may take in order to prevent usurpation of power by other government officials. Later the king of Qin reportedly admired Han Feizi's teachings and regretted his decision.132/search? q=cache:TH3BJck1FH8J:science. This contradiction between Han Feizi's ideas and his personal aspirations ultimately led to a personal tragedy: after he arrived at the state of Qin. which came shortly after his death with the imperial unification of 221 B. Ancient China Legalism . Han Feizi thus did not witness the ultimate triumph of his ideology. . Politics are a battlefield in which deceit and treachery are common.125. The treatises describe the strategies which a ruler may employ in order to maintain control over the legislative functions of government.E.95.practices. 280-233 BCE) include fifty-five treatises which are collected into twenty books and which are mainly concerned with what the ruler of a state should do in order to acquire and maintain political power. This candor is revealing because.

the greater the faithfulness and loyalty that the ruler will be able to obtain from his ministers and the more effectively that the ruler will be able to govern. Han Feizi also argues that in order for a ruler to govern effectively. and which claims that social stability may be best maintained by the administration of harsh punishments to any individuals who fail to comply with civil authority.Legalism as defined by the writings of Han Feizi is a philosophy which claims that social order may be best preserved by the enforcement of severe penalties for disobedience to civil laws. The more effectively that the ruler is able to . The "two handles" of reward and punishment are the means by which a ruler may encourage ministers to be loyal and may discourage them from being disloyal.298-c. Han Feizi argues that a ruler should never trust his ministers or subjects to be loyal. Han Feizi argues that human nature is basically selfish and deceitful. who argued that human nature is basically evil and that moral goodness can only be acqured through conscious effort or training.238 BCE). If a ruler does not reward those ministers who are loyal or does not punish those who are disloyal. The ministers who are appointed by a ruler may try to gain power in order to pursue their own personal aims. A wise ruler must therefore enact laws to ensure that the ministers fulfill their duties and to ensure that all ministers comply with the ruler’s authority. This ethically pessimistic viewpoint was influenced by the moral philosophy of his teacher Xunzi (Hsün Tzu. the ruler must reward those ministers who are loyal and must punish those ministers who are disloyal. c. According to Han Feizi. and the more effectively that a ruler can punish those ministers who do not fulfill their duties faithfully. then that ruler will lose the loyalty of his ministers and will not be able to govern effectively. the more effectively that a ruler can reward those ministers who fulfill their duties faithfully. and that the best way to motivate subjects to be loyal to a ruler is to reward them for loyalty and to punish them for disloyalty.

a ruler who promotes the development of an effective and properly administered legal system may be better equipped to maintain sovereign power than a ruler who does not promote the development of an effective and properly administered legal system. then he will not be able to reward deserving individuals as effectively. the greater the power that the ruler may be able to attain. Han Feizi argues that individuals should be appointed as ministers of government only if they are deserving of being given positions of authority in government and only if they must be employed to perform some particular function. If a ruler loses his ability to reward his ministers for serving faithfully. . The form (xing) or actual nature of each minister’s duties should correspond to the name (ming) or description of the tasks which that minister has been appointed to perform. Han Feizi explains that the relative power of various rulers may be partly determined by the relative effectiveness with which they are able to reward ministers or subjects who comply with their authority. If the description of a minister’s duties does not correspond to the actual nature of the tasks which that minister has been appointed to perform. Han Feizi also argues that each minister should perform the specific function for which he has been appointed and should neither exceed nor fail to perform this specific function. The relative power of various rulers may also be partly determined by the relative effectiveness with which they are able to punish ministers or subjects who do not comply their authority.govern. Thus. Individuals should not be rewarded with positions of authority in government merely because they are friends or family members of the ruler. The power (shih) of a ruler consists of his ability to reward his ministers for serving faithfully. If a ruler rewards undeserving individuals. then that minister’s duties will not be properly defined and will not properly contribute to the fulfillment of the duties of other ministers. or loses his ability to punish his ministers for not serving faithfully. or of his ability to punish his ministers for not serving faithfully. then he will lose his power.

Thus. a wise and enlightened ruler will rectify the name of each minister’s duties so that it corresponds to the actual nature of the tasks which that minister is expected to perform. Han Feizi also explains that a wise and prudent ruler will rectify laws so that they clearly specify the penalties which are to be imposed on individuals who disobey the ruler’s commands and on individuals who do not comply with the ruler's authority. because moral discipline is necessary in order to maintain social order and stability. Han Feizi argues that a ruler should not be too kind or forgiving. who teaches that a ruler should act benevolently and righteously.Han Feizi explains that a wise and enlightened ruler will rectify names so that they correspond to the forms or actual nature of things. benevolence and righteousness are less important for the attainment of social justice and harmony than obedience to civil law and compliance with civil . then they will be less likely to disobey the ruler. According to Han Feizi. a wise ruler will be able to properly determine the best means of promoting social order and stability. A wise and enlightened ruler will establish laws which are fair and just. A wise and enlightened ruler will therefore be able to properly reward those ministers who fulfill their duties. If ministers and subjects know that any acts of disobedience will be severely punished. In opposition to Kongfuzi (Confucius. A wise ruler will establish laws which enable all individuals to live together in peace and harmony. Han Feizi maintains that penalties for disobedience to civil laws should always be strictly enforced. A ruler should never fail to punish any individuals who disobey his commands and should never fail to discipline any ministers who do not fulfill their duties. By rectifying the names which are given to the responsibilities and duties of government. and that punishments for disobedience to civil laws should never be reduced or rescinded. and will be able to properly punish those ministers who do not fulfill their duties. and which promote the wellbeing of all individuals. Remission of punishment for any acts of disobedience to civil law will only encourage further acts of disobedience. 551-479 BCE).

On the other hand. then that ruler will administer rewards and punishments to ministers and subjects fairly and impartially. Han Feizi emphasizes that a ruler should not administer undeserved rewards or punishments to ministers and subjects if he wants to retain their faithfulness and loyalty. In a well-ordered society. and are not inflicted on individuals who do not deserve them. then rewards and punishments will be correctly administered according to civil law and no further intervention by the ruler will be required in order for society to be peaceful and orderly. punishments are inflicted on individuals who deserve them. if a ruler rewards his ministers and subjects too generously for being loyal and faithful. Han Feizi argues that the best method of promoting social justice and harmony is not to act benevolently and righteously but is to rectify the legal system and strictly enforce all civil laws. then he may also lose their loyalty and faithfulness. or if he punishes them too severely for being disloyal or unfaithful. rewards are bestowed on individuals who deserve them. If a ruler is righteous. Han Feizi explains that if a ruler does not sufficiently reward ministers and subjects for being faithful or does not sufficiently punish them for being unfaithful.authority. then that ruler will try to promote social justice and harmony. The rectification of the legal system requires that rewards and punishments . In a well-ordered society. Rewards and punishments must be rectified so that they correspond to the nature of the actual conduct which they are intended to encourage or discourage. However. and are not bestowed on individuals who do not deserve them. then that ruler may lose the faithfulness and loyalty of his ministers and subjects. then he must keep this promise in order to retain the loyalty and faithfulness of the minister or subject. If a ruler has established an effective and properly administered legal system. Han Feizi admits that if a ruler is benevolent. Han Feizi also explains that if a ruler has promised to reward a minister or subject.

Han Feizi also argues that a ruler should conceal his own intentions from his ministers in order to prevent them from becoming too familiar with his method of statecraft (shu). Thus. then those individuals who are caught and punished for disobeying the ruler may not be sufficiently discouraged from committing further acts of disobedience. Han Feizi’s explanation of the applications of civil authority and of the uses of political power may be criticized for attempting to justify authoritarianism and totalitarianism. the ruler must be able to correctly identify those individuals who deserve to be rewarded or punished. Moreover. if punishments are not sufficiently severe. a ruler should not reward ministers or subjects collectively for the loyal actions of a single individual. However. a ruler may in some cases punish ministers or subjects collectively for the disloyal actions of a single individual. Han Feizi also argues that ministers and subjects should be rewarded for denouncing each other’s faults. those individuals who disobey the ruler must be caught and must be forced to submit to punishment. In order for punishment to sufficiently discourage disobedience to the ruler’s commands. the power of the . because some ministers or subjects may thus be undeservedly rewarded. and that they not be administered to individuals who do not deserve them. If individuals who disobey the ruler are not caught and are not forced to submit to punishment. Han Feizi argues that in order for rewards and punishments to be correctly administered. then they may commit further offenses. if collective punishment does not cause too much resentment and if it enforces compliance with the ruler’s authority. According to Han Feizi.be administered to individuals who deserve them. Han Feizi argues that a ruler should practice deception in order to determine whether any ministers or subjects may be disloyal. Han Feizi claims that a wise and prudent ruler should be devoted to secrecy in order to prevent any ministers from being able to hinder his plans. and that they should be punished for not denouncing each other’s faults. For example.

Translated by W. Mozi. Laozi & Zhuangzi were men of lower gentry. p. Han. Collier & MacMillan. 2003. The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu. II. descendents perhaps of aristocratic families that had sunk into poverty and no longer occupied a position of any real power in feudalism. was a small state situated in central China. McGreal.ruler becomes absolute. New York: HarperCollins. Lee. Mencius. and the ruler gains total authority over all ministers and subjects. New York: Crowell. 44-8." in Great Thinkers of the Eastern World. 1939. 412. Confucius. New York: Columbia Universit Press. Edited by Ian P. Han Feizi. pp. Edited by Paul Edwards. Han Feizi: Basic Writings.C. "Han Fei Tzu. "Han Fei. Liao. BIBLIOGRAPHY Han Fei Tzu. Volumes I and II.1 The Life of Han Feizi • • Han Fei was a prince of the royal family of the state of Han (韓). . (1995)." in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy.K. Nai Z.) • • The only nobleman among the important early Chinese philosophers. London: Arthur Probsthain. Wing-Chiat. (1967). Zia. Legalism 法家: Han Feizi • Han Feizi 韓非子 (280-233 B. Translated by Burton Watson.

Han Fei then wrote a book.1 The Life of Han Feizi • • • • Han went to the Chin court and was received with delight by the king.C. which came into hands of the king of Chin (who was soon to conquer and rule all China) in 246 B. Li-si sent poison to the prison and Han Fei was confined. his former fellow student. Legalists do not share the Confucian ideas of respecting one’s own teacher. his loyalties would always be on the side of Han and against Chin.II.1 The Life of Han Feizi • • Qn: Why Li-si send his own teacher. Han Fei repeatedly submitted letters of remonstrance to its ruler. II. Before the king might have time to regret this decision(as he later did). Han Feizi to death? An: Li-si is a legalist. since Han Fei was a prince of Han. Li-si 李斯 warning the king that. but the king of Han was unwilling to listen to his advice. But before he could gain the kings’ full confidence. but its perfector. King of Chin 秦 showed great respect for the book but it did not deter him from launching an attack on the state of Han in 234 B. . II. distressed by the dangerous condition of his native state. Han Fei was handed over to the law officials for investigation.2 Han Feizi: the Legalist • He is not the inventor of Legalism.1 The Life of Han Feizi • • As a prince.C. II.

it made no attempt to preserve/ restore the customs and moral values of the past. The establishment of more effective control over land and population through laws and strict penalties. People should be kept in a state of ignorance and fear.4 Laws/ fa . II. Like Machiavelli’s treatise. The encouragement of agriculture to provide a steady food supply and of warfare to expand the borders of the state and insure a well-disciplined population. II. II. II. except to the extent that they affected the interests of the ruling class/ the King. better illiterate.3 Policies • • • • The strengthening of the central government.2 The Legalist • • The Legalists take no interest in private individuals or their lives. The replacement of the old aristocracy by a corps of bureaucrats. Han’s work is a handbook for the prince.3 Policies • • It called for the suppression of all ideas and ways of life that impeded the realization of the above aims.• • All the writings of the Legalist School deal with a single problem: how to preserve and strengthen the state 富國 強兵. Unlike Confucianism/ Mo-ism. with a few chapters thoughtfully added for the guidance of his ministers.

• • The elaborate system of laws that are to be drawn up by the ruler. II.7) (二柄) • • • The ruler controls by means of two handles: punishment 罰 and favor 賞. all life within the nation was to be ordered. Text on “Two Handles” • “The enlightened ruler controls his ministers by means of two handles alone. The book. Those who act as ministers fear the penalties and hope to profit by the rewards. But the ruler. and taught and explained by them to the illiterate people. and the inescapable punishments that back it up. mainly discuss such principles for the good ruler. Hence. Text on “Two Handles” . But the evil ministers of age are different. They cajole the ruler into letting them inflict punishment themselves on men they hate and bestow rewards on men they like…. The two handles are punishment and favor.5 Methods of Governing: The Two Handles (H. distributed to his officials. to bestow honor and reward is called favor. must be guided by a different set of principles. which is about how to attain a powerful state. the ministers will fear his sternness and flock to receive his benefits. if the ruler wields his punishments and favors. who is the author of law and outside and above it. By such a system of laws. The officials and the people are guided and kept in line by laws. ch. Han Feizi. What do I mean by punishment and favor? To inflict mutilation and death on men is called punishment.

所惡.所愛. then on the contrary he will find them in the control of his ministers. but instead hands them out on the advice of his ministers. then on the contrary he will be overpowered by the dog.慶賞之謂德.則群臣畏其威而歸其利矣.刑德也.今人主非使賞罰 之威早出于己也..人主者.故世之奸臣則不然..歸其臣而去其君矣.二抦而已矣.使虎釋其爪牙而使狗用之.則君反制于臣矣.則一國之人皆畏其臣而易 其君. This is the danger that arises when the ruler loses control of punishment and favors… Text on “Two Handles” • “The tiger is able to over power the dog because of his claws and teeth. In the same way the ruler of men uses punishment and favors to control his ministers. will flock to the ministers and desert the ruler. but if his discards his punishments and favors and lets his ministers employ them.何謂刑德? 曰:殺戮之謂刑.故人主 自用其刑德.則虎反服狗矣.爪牙也.為人臣者畏誅罰而利慶賞. but if he discards his claws and teeth and lets the dog use them.夫虎之所以能服 狗者.” Text on “Two Handles” • “明主之所導制其臣者. then the people of the state will all fear the ministers and hold the ruler in contempt.• “Now if the ruler of men does not insist upon reserving to himself the right to dispense profit in form of rewards and show his sternness in punishments.聽其臣而行其賞罰.此人主失刑德之患也. 則能得其主而罪之.6 The Rise of the Legalists .今君人者釋其刑德使臣用之.二柄者.則能得之其主而賞之. 以刑德制臣者也. ” II.

II. He needed a set of rules for management and personnel control. Daoism. II. In the quality of absoluteness. withdraw from the world.7 The Legalist and the Daoists • • The Daoist sage has absolute understanding and the Legalist king is of absolute power. Legalism. which likewise rejected conventional religion and morality. new problems arose. he had to find new ways to control his newly created state. If a ruler wanted to remain secure in his position. because it rejected all appeals to religion and morality. provided such a set.7 The Legalist and the Daoists • • • • From Daoism. The sage & the king both rise above conventional good/evil.6 The Rise of the Legalists • • Unable any longer to attend to all affairs in person. they are alike. II.8 Han Fei’s Views on Human Nature . Han Feizi borrowed a set of ideas. had to find some other set of terms to glorify the ruler. with its doctrine of quietism and its transcendence of worldly affairs. he had to make certain that the men to whom he delegated power were doing their work effectively. may seems an add place to go in search for ideas in governing. II. Daoist philosophy.• • As the more powerful states of late Zhou times grew in size and their government became more centralized.

The ruler.• • • Under the influence of Xunzi 荀子.). Encourage agriculture and warfare Discipline its people with stern laws Conduct its foreign affairs with cold-blooded cynicism II. II. who thought that the nature of human is basically evil. and cited history for their argument.10 The Unification: the Chin • • • • Assuming the title of First Emperor(始皇). Dynasty (221-206B. the King of Chin set about the vast bureaucratic empire that Han Feizi had envisioned.8 Han Fei’s Views on Human Nature • • All attempts to educate and uplift the common people are useless. must eschew all impulses toward mercy and affection and be guided solely by enlightened self-interest. Confucians and Moists claimed that there had been better days under the sage kings of antiquity. had been pursuing Legalist policies for almost a century.9 The Influence of Han Feizi • • • Han wrote his essays on political science for the king of Han. The state of Chin. which later successfully unified China (in 221 B. Han Feizi cited history only to enlarge his catalogue of human follies.C. Yet.) II. to succeed. it was Han’s enemy and eventual destroyer. who appreciated them and put them into practice. the King of Chin(秦). II.11 Policies of Chin .C.

Often: Confucianism. and in three years. The most important reason: its harsh and ruthless treatment of the people II. The penetrating analyses and advice of Legalism have been drawn upon again and again by later rulers. Suppressed the teachings of other schools of philosophy 5. Undertook huge public works 6.• • • • • • • • According to Legalism: 1. Standardized weights. Launched foreign wars to push back the borders 7. Controlled people with strict laws 4. Abolishment of feudalism 2.C. measures.12 The Decline of Chin • • • The First Emperor of Chin died in 210 B. the natural resistance of men to violent change. II.12 The Decline of Chin • • Lack of mercy on people. plus some elements of Legalism (morality & law) . the high cost of state undertakings.13 Long-term Influence of Chin • • • No government in China thereafter attempted to apply legalism in undiluted form. The policies overestimated the amount of bullying and oppression that people would bear. and the writing system 3. Building Luxurious palaces (this practice is against the ruling principles of Legalism) and the Greatwall II. Reasons: forces beyond its control– the pull of old local loyalties. the state fell apart.

14 Passages from the Han Feizi Ch. the ruler need do nothing more and the true aspect of all things will be revealed.治紀 以知善敗之端. letting names define themselves and affairs reach their own settlement… “道者. discard wisdom and the ministers will watch their steps. “有言者自為名. Therefore the enlightened ruler holds fast to the beginning in order to understand the wellspring of all beings..形同參同. and minds the measure in order to know the source of good and bad. for if he reveal his desires his ministers will put on the mask that pleases him. empty and still.” II.是非之紀也. for if he does so his ministers will show a different face. . 5 The Way of the Ruler • • “Hence it is said.君乃無事焉. “So it is said: Discard likes and dislikes and the ministers will show their true form. When names and results match. He must not reveal his will. ‘The ruler must not reveal his desires.14 Passages from the Han Feizi Ch.有事者自為形.令事自定也.万物之始.令名自命也. 5 The Way of the Ruler 主道 • • “The Way is the beginning of all beings and the measure of right and wrong.故虛靜以待令. ” II. those whose duty it is to act will produce results. He waits. 5 The Way of the Ruler 主道 • • “Those whose duty it is to speak will come forward to name themselves.14 Passages from the Han Feizi Ch.歸之其情.是以明君守始以知万物之源..II.

君 見其意. “故有智而不以慮. Though he has worth.百官有常. so empty no one can seek him out. and the ruler employ each according to his particular ability.臣將自表異. 5 The Way of the Ruler • • • • “Hence. his state grows powerful. “是故去智而有明.’ 故曰: ‘去好去惡. and though he discards bravery.去賢而有功.” “Thus. he achieves merit. but causes all men to know their place.去勇而有強..使万物知其處. ‘So still he seems to dwell nowhere at all.使群臣盡其武.因能而使之.” Ch.14 Passages from the Han Feizi Ch.是謂習常…” “Hence it is said. he does not display it in his deeds.” II. though he discards worth. though he discards wisdom.去歸去智. and below his ministers tremble with fear… “故曰: ‘寂乎其無位而處.有賢而不以行.觀臣下之所因. his rule is enlightened.. this is know as the state of manifold constancy… “群臣守職.君見其所欲.’ The enlightened ruler reposes in non-action above. he does not present his bravery in shows of indignation. though the ruler is wise.謬乎莫得其所.君無見其意.• “故曰: ‘君無見其所欲.臣乃 自備. 有勇而不以怒. Though he is brave. he hatches no schemes from his wisdom.臣乃見素. but allows his subordinates to display their valor to the full. the hundred officials have their regular duties. 5 The Way of the Ruler • • • • “When the ministers stick to their posts. but observes the motives of his ministers.” .臣將多雕琢.

此之謂賢主之經也. “When you perceive the trend of a man’s words.. but examine them and .君因而任之. he is the leader of the worthy.Ch.. though he is not wise himself. still and idle.而君因以斷事. “明君之道. The ministers have the labor. and he decides his affairs accordingly. He causes the worthy to display their talents.故君不窮于名. and from your place of darkness observe the defects of others. 5 The Way of the Ruler • • “This is the way of the enlightened ruler: he causes the wise to bring forth all their schemes. he is the corrector of the wise. 5 The Way of the Ruler • • “Thus . “See but do not appear to see. 5 The Way of the Ruler • • • “The way lies in what cannot be seen. hence his own worth never comes to an end. the ruler takes credit for their worth. its function in what cannot be known. know but do not let it be known that you know.” Ch.有過則臣任 其罪.賢者勑 其材.” Ch.不智而為上智者正.臣有其勞. the ruler enjoys the success. hence the ruler’s name never suffers. listen but do not seem to listen. though the ruler is not worthy himself.有功則君有其賢. hence his own wisdom is never exhausted. the ministers are held responsible for the blame. do not correct them. where there are errors.君有其成 功.使智者盡其慮. Be empty. Where there are accomplishments.故君不窮于智. and he employs them accordingly.故君不窮于能. This is called the maxim of the worthy ruler… “是故不賢而為賢者師. do not change them.

知其言以往. ch. Assign one man to each office and do not let them talk to each other.在旁 3.聞而 不聞.臣制財利曰壅.• compare them with the results.勿 令通言. and then all will do their utmost… “道在不可見. when they get control of the wealth and resources of the state “3.” (H.非人臣之所以得操也.此人主之所以獨擅也.臣擅行令曰壅.以暗見疵. they should never pass into the hands of his ministers…” “人主有五壅:臣閉其主曰壅.流行 . when they are free to issue orders as they please “4.用在不可知.父兄 4.勿变勿更.9) The Eight Villainies 八奸 • • • • • • • “凡人臣之所道成奸者有八術: 1.見而不見.養殃 5.官有一人. when the ministers shut out their ruler… “2.虛靜無事.則万物皆盡…” Ch.when they are able to build up their cliques “All these are rights that should be exercised by the ruler alone. “1.同床 2.以參合閱焉.臣得 樹人曰壅.知而不知. when they are able to do righteous deeds in their own name “5.民萌 6. 5 The Way of the Ruler • • • • • • • • “The ruler of men stands in danger of being blocked in five ways.

9) The Eight Villainies • • 4. (H. ch. because the nature of his upbringing. . and consults with the elder statesmen and courtiers.9) The Eight Villainies 八奸 • • • • Eight strategies which ministers customarily employ to work their villainy.• • 7. has naturally been cut off from ordinary conversation.威強 8. and pools. “Making use of his attendants”: jesters and entertainers. “Making use of his elders and kin”: The ruler feels close affection for his cadet families and for the princes of the blood. 2. (H. 1. ch. terraces.9) The Eight Villainies • 6. and hand out small favors in order to win the hearts of the commoners. “Encouraging baleful pursuits”: rulers love to beautify their palaces. attendants and favorites of the ruler 3. “Making use of the people”: Ministers often distribute funds in order to gratify the people. ch. till everyone in both court and countryside is praising them alone.四方 (H. 5. to surround themselves with attractive attendants and fine dogs and horses for their amusements. “Making use of his bedfellows”: the ruler is easily beguiled by lovely women and charming boys. and has seldom had an opportunity to listen to debases and persuasive speaking. “Making use of fluent speakers”: The ruler.

10) The Ten Faults 十過 • • • • • • • • • • 十過 1.不務聽治而好五音. “Making use of authority and might”: Rulers sometimes believe that the officials and common people are capable of wielding authority and might.無禮諸侯.不顧國政.10) The Ten Faults 十過 • • Han Feizi uses historical examples to illustrate his ten points. whatever these people condemn.則滅國殺身之本也 6.則窮身之事也 5. ch.過而不聽于忠臣. (H.ch. A legalist ruler should avoid committing the following faults. he will do the bidding of larger states. and hence whatever these people approve of. The ministers therefore double the taxes.則亡國之禍也 7. “Making use of the surrounding states”: It is customary with a ruler that.• 7. (H.9) The Eight Villainies • 8. the small state must consent.則亡身之至也 4. too. if his state is small.則大利之殘也 3.則削國之患也 .耽于女樂.離內遠游百勿于諫士. (H. they condemn.行僻自用.顧小利.行小忠.內不量力.則危身之道也 8.則大忠之賊也 2.貪愎喜利.而獨行其意.則滅高名為人笑之始也 9. rulers approve of too.外恃諸侯. and exhaust the state in the service of the great powers and then make use of their influence with foreign powers in their efforts to mislead the ruler. When the larger states come with demands.ch. empty the coffers.

” (H. so he told him that it was just “water. yet A excused himself. 1. His junior knew that A loved wine very much. the enemies came and the Duke sent an order summoning A. The Duke of Yu was greedy and .國小無禮.不以仇子反也.• 10.e.不用諫臣. his heart was filled only with loyalty and love. Duke Hsien of Chin wanted to passed through the neighboring state Yu to launch an attack in another state and he was advised to give a precious jade (the jade of Chui-chi) to the Duke of state Yu. An official of Yu warned his Duke not to accept the gift because they would be attacked in the next.10) The Ten Faults 十過 • • • Each fault is further elaborated with a concrete example in history. the commander-in-chief A refused to drink. In a battle.10) The Ten Faults 十過 • • • Han Fei’s analysis of Fault no. i. On the next day.” “故竪谷陽之進酒. To fix your eye on a petty gain and thereby lose a larger one.ch.則絕世之勢也 (H. (H. To practice petty loyalty and thereby betray a larger loyalty. i.e.ch.1: “When the junior (Ku-yang) presented wine to the commander A. claiming that he had a pain in his heart.其心忠愛之而適足以殺之. yet he ended up by killing him. The Duke later found out the truth and beheaded commander A.” Then commander A could not reject the temptation and kept on drinking until he was very drunk.ch.10) The Ten Faults 十過 • • 2.

To be greedy. Duke Chu also insulted other rulers. Chapter 10 The Ten Faults • • 4. thereby plunging yourself into distress.accepted the present. perverse. He was advised not to do so but he did as he pleased. and too fond of profit. thereby bringing about your own downfall. Chapter 10 The Ten Faults • • 3. state Yu was conquered and the piece of Jade was back to the original state. i. To give no ear to government affairs but long only for the sound of music. He was eventually starved to death. Duke Ping of Chin loved music so much that he insisted to hear the music written by music-master Yen for the wicked King Zhou of the Shang dynasty. . He was advised to listen to the pure shang mode which were for the rulers of virtue. Duke Chu summoned the other federal lords to a conference. One of the crown princes arrived late and he was held in prison. Ten years passed and Duke Chu went on a tour and his officials stole his throne from him. yet he insisted that he loved music so much and he should enjoy what he delighted.e. i. Chapter 10 The Ten Faults • 5.e. Three years later. His state suffered with a great drought for three years and his body broke out with sores. thereby opening the way to the destruction of the state and your own demise. To behave in a base and willful manner and show no courtesy to the other feudal lords.

was a sage when he was visited by the latter. When Yu returned.e. where he was well received. he warned his Duke but ignored. i. He knew that such a person would pose a threat to all the rival states around it. To leave the palace for distance travels.e. Viscount Tian Chang of Chi enjoyed travel by sea so much that he announced that anyone mentioned going home would be killed. The official quoted historical examples of loyal officials being killed by their seniors. Without that official. Yu left his state and went to Chin. An official warned him and he was threatened to be beheaded. thereby inviting the disaster of national destruction. Yu Yu. To become infatuated with women musicians and discard state affairs. the viscount would have lose the state. i. The state of Chin later took over the state of Jung. Duke Mu then sent a lot of women musicians to the Duke of Jung and suggested that Yu’s return to his state be postponed. Chapter 10 The Ten Faults . which leads to grave peril for yourself. The viscount decided to return home and found out that some of his subjects were plotting to prevent him from entering the capital. despising the remonstrances of your ministers. Duke of Jung became crazy with the women and ignored his state for a year.• A very long and complicated story… Chapter 10 The Ten Faults • • 6. Duke Mu of Chin discovered the official of Jung. Chapter 10 The Ten Faults • • 7.

and fail to learn from the remonstrance of your ministers. To ignore the demands of courtesy. he was asked by the Duke about his successor. Time flied and there was no troop and the state of Han was conquered by Chin. But when Kuan died. who became the first of the five dictators. To fail to heed your loyal ministers when you are at fault. Kuan said His Ping could do. When Kuan Chung was ill. At last. Duke Huan died of hunger and his body remained unburied for three months. the Duke did not follow his advice and appointed someone Kuan rejected. Chin attacked the small state.e.e. though your state is small. The Duke of Chu was afraid that these two states would join together and attack her. which will in time destroy your good reputation and make you a laughing stock of others. Kuan Chung was the most helpful minister of Duke Huan of Chi. Han and the ruler of the latter was advised to give land to Chin for peace. . Chapter 10 The Ten Faults • 10. The Duke of Han decided to place trust on Chu and urged them to send troops to rescue him. To take no account of internal struggle but rely solely upon your allies abroad. which places the state in grave danger of dismemberment. i. acts which lead to the downfall of your line. Chapter 10 The Ten Faults • • 9. Three years passed and the Duke journed to a trip and the new successor led a revolt. The Duke of Chu then told the ruler of Han that they would help them if they were attacked. i. insisting upon having your own way. The Duke proposed a number of officials but Kuan pointed out their weaknesses.• • 8.

An official of Tsao worried about the situation and he sent a lot of gift to Chung-erh.• i. The Duke of Tsao was killed for his behavior and the clever official’s compound was not trespassed. People took refuge in the residential quarter of that official. Chung-erh eventually became the head of Chin and attacked Tsao. .e. as he believed that Chung-erh was fit as a good leader. Prince Chung-erh of Chin fled from his home and was treated with discourtesy by the Duke of Tsao.

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