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Legalism: a Clash of Philosophies
When the Qin Dynasty came to power in 221 BC, it found itself ruling over a land where
the teachings of Confucius had been spreading for almost 300 years. Qin attempted to rule China using a new philopsophy, that of Legalism. How did Confucianism and Legalism differ? What were their views on different aspects of social, political, and familial issues? In the table below, compare and contrast some the positions of Confucianism and Legalism on the topics indicated: Aspect of Chinese society Confucianism Legalism
Government was extremely important. A ruler had to be good in order for his subjects The role of the government to be good and obey him. Government existed for the benefit of the people, not the other way around. Relationships between individuals in society
The people are there to serve the government. The government comes before everything in a Legalist society.
The people should not focus People should love and on being loving and caring. respect each other (treat each Instead, they should spy on other by the golden rule). everyone around them to report any law breaking. History and poetry didn't help make the government more powerful, therefore they were useless and a waste of people's time. Family came second to obeying the laws. One's duty was to turn his or her family members into the government if one of their family members broke a law. You could change your social status all depending on how many heads you kill during wars. The more, the higher status you are.
History and poetry are Importance of traditional educational resources and Chinese history and poetry people can study them to further educate themselves. Family always came first before anything. A son/daughter should do his/her best to protect and respect his/her family. As long as you study hard and are a learned person, then you can move up in social class. A man should not be born into power and nobility, he should prove himself worthy through how
Responsibility towards family
.+Legalism: +a+Clash+of+Philosophies Beliefs of Confucianism: Confucianism is a philosophical system developed around the teachings of Confucius.com/page/Confucianism+vs.educated he is. disagreed with Legalists education was the most beliefs were destroyed. Religion is allowed to be practiced if it does not involve any behaviors that do not benifit the state and support the same behaiviors the government wants to encourage. Education important. Religion wasn't practiced in Confucianism. education. "An emperor with Legalists wanted people to no education is no better think the same way and not than a peasant with gain too much knowledge. Religion He believed that of all things Scholars and books that someone could have." http://sasasianhistory. Confucius believed that people should focus less on the supernatural and spend more time working towards a peaceful and caring society.wetpaint.
buzzle. in the Occident. and quasireligious ideals that have had tremendous influence over the cultures of the Orient. Confucianism comprises social. are the strongholds of Confucianism. people can conduct themselves harmoniously. political. they develop a sense of shame and the need for reform. Taiwan. Confucianism is propounded via rhetoric use of analogy and aphorism. Confucianism needs detailed interpretation. Confucianism today is a political and ethical doctrine that fights contemporary ideas and seeks to gain confidence through the power of reasoning and debate. The sayings or reasoning are not deductive in nature. drawn on a time and space related cultural milieu.This 'way of life' address the complexities and idealism behind human morality. However. Japan.html . The philosophy demarcates legalism and ritualism within the realm of individual accountability. Confucianism preaches that with the right leadership. This 'way of life' stands on the pillars of duty.com/articles/beliefs-of-confucianism. Although Confucius' ideas on morality and ethics were not accepted during his lifetime.within the dictates of metaphysics. This is the main reason why. incessantly striving to establish military and political dominance. are products of Confucianism. This system of philosophy emphasizes on the individual and state as 'bound by moral virtue rather than coercive law'. of a family or kingdom. moral. and the importance of education with regards to individual moral development in China. the presence of the right legal principles throughout the family or empire sustain the nature of the unit. The Confucian relies on politeness and propriety to earn a place in society. http://www. Confucianism propounds that a head. He rules from within a vacuum of power. Korea and Vietnam. Individual and state control over every human activity. Confucius believed that people led by administrative injunctions develop a sense of self worth that is devoid of a sense of shame. The trend of governmental promotion of these values. The 'Analects of Confucius' comprises short passages. and the value of righteous action. This stream of philosophy does not believe in the exposure to rites or extreme statism. the 'recollections' passed down generations made a great impact on successive kingdoms in China and other parts of the Orient. with every subsequent victory. The Master believed that individuals who are guided via edicts and kept on path with the help of punitive action do not develop a sense of shame. internalization and social correctness. and an unorthodox doctrine of radical thinking. is a mere figurehead. However. Confucianism declares that all human nature is essentially perfect and good. if they are guided by virtue and governed with accountability. nor directed towards convincing the reader.
According to him. Shangzi saw a strong government according to law as the solution to the problem. whoever was ruler was powerful because the position held power. In Legalism. he wrote. In addition. the law code was written out and made public. Legalism puts the emphasis on the power of the position. Han Feizi died as a result of political intrigue in 233 BC. All people under the ruler were equal in the eyes of the law. brought him some prominence during his life and ended up being the main text of the school of Legalism. shi (legitimacy). Legalism is a pessimistic philosophy--while conceding that it would be wonderful to have a sage for ruler. click here to go Home fa The law. Instead. There are three components to Legalism: fa (law). the reality was that there just weren't many sages around. the system of law ran the state. shu Discussions of morality and . the laws would still keep the state going. a couple of people who had similar ideas. He traced the cause of the chaos of the time back to a growing population. he did not go the way most wandering philosophers of this age did: making the rounds of kings' courts and making speeches. Daoism Confucianism shi Legitimacy of Rule. and shu (arts of the ruler). His book. The practical thing would be to have a system where even an average man could rule and the state would stay intact. In other words. Legalism had no single founder but instead. fa jia fa: law Summary of the Philosophy jia: school (of thinking) Legalism holds law as the supreme authority. Unlike other philosophies. the Han Feizi. since the ruler could make and change the rules as he saw fit. But obviously.Legalism Founded by: Han Feizi. which sought out the wise and virtuous to rule. No one was really sure what the law was. Shangzi Like Daoism. Keeping order was the first priority. the law was pretty much at the discretion of the ruler. this system made for easy corruption. The ruler and his ministers were simply parts of the state machine--a machine which would ideally run so well that no matter how unworthy the ruler was. Han Feizi. but Legalism would go on to become the philosophy which finally managed to unify China. Because of a problem with stuttering. as a student. Previously. this was to give the ruler the opportunity to show benevolence in certain circumstances. Laws were enforced by strict reward/punishment. was taught in the Confucian tradition. this caused a scarcity of resources which led to war and strife. not because the person possessed any special qualities. Supposedly. not the ruler. not the person filling it. Shangzi (Gungsun Yang) also contributed to Legalism.
Wm. punishments should be severe and definite so that the people will fear them. and he should add honor to rewards and disgrace to punishments--when this is done. they grow lazy and disrespectful of authority. Others discuss techniques of ruling--"Two Handles" talks about power over reward and punishment as the key to staying in power. so what worked back then would not necessarily work in the present time. but it was too much. Legalism disregards the past--conditions were different back then. trans.rewards should be rich and certain so that the people will be attracted by them. Daoism and Confucianism looked to the past as the ideal and tried to recreate the past. distanced itself from Legalism and made its main rival. 1. the Han. and in response the following dynasty.human nature are irrelevant in Legalism. It is a comprehensive guide to ruling directed at kings. finally unified China in 221 BC. Columbia University Press (USA: 1960). The people were heavily taxed and forced into labor on major government projects. He successfully put the fear and respect of the law and government into the people. the Qin Dynasty dissolved only 14 years after its founding. In this light.) Analysis Legalism achieved what all the other philosophies strove for-- unification of China. It consists of 55 chapters. Confucianism the official philosophy. and laws should be uniform and steadfast so that the people will be familiar with them. The harshness of the Legalist Qin would be remembered afterwards. the sovereign should show no wavering in bestowing rewards and grant no pardon in administering punishments. The Qin emperor was ruthless in his use of Legalism. Books and scholars which held beliefs against Legalism (such as Confucianism) were destroyed. Some chapters are.. If the ruler lets go of this power. Policies based on benevolence might work for the short term. or offending more powerful states. Major Text Han Feizi The Han Feizi is considered the main text of Legalism. Vol. punishing even small crimes with decapitation or the loss of a hand or foot. strangely enough. . So although many parts of Legalism seem to make good sense (such as equality under the law. Benevolence has no place in ruling a state because unless people are ruled by a strong. Legalism was a success. operating under the Legalist philosophy.. the 5 Vermin. Daoist in style. others deal with xing ming. Confucius' rituals came from the Zhou Dynasty and the Dao is the original state of all things. such as putting too much trust in your ministers and concubines. Many of the chapters contain lists of specific things to avoid (the 8 Villainies.. the 10 Faults). he puts himself in danger of losing order in his state. . Theodore de Bary. The Qin Dynasty. --Han Feizi (from Sources of Chinese Tradition. strict hand. a combination of plotting ministers and peasant rebellions caused the end of Legalism as the ruling philosophy of China. However. Consequently. each with its own theme. and government according to merit). and others tell the ruler what pitfalls to avoid while running a state. After his death. and ed.. then both the worthy and the unworthy will want to exert themselves. but inevitably led to disorder and failure.
com/Tokyo/Springs/6339/Legalism.html .memories of the abuse of the law under the Qin has kept Legalism in a bad light throughout Chinese history.geocities. http://www.
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