Which Dynasty Used Legalism to Make Decisions

Guan Zhong and later Mozi (470–391 BC) recommended objective, reliable, easy-to-use standards or models,[94][14]:348–349[95] or models that resisted what sinologist Chad Hansen called “the cultivated intuition of self-admiring societies,” experts in singing ancient texts. [14]: 348–349 [77] For Guan Zhong, Fa could complement any traditional scheme, and he uses Fa alongside the Confucian Li (the unique principles or norms of things that determine and distinguish them) that he always cherished. What the Fa has made possible is to follow the instructions to the letter. [14]: 348-349 [93] With minimal training, anyone can use the Fa to perform a task or verify results. [94] In principle, looking at their roots in Guan Zhong and Mozi, one could say that legalists all use the Fa in the same (administrative) way. [77] [96] The Fajia and Mohists were particularly concerned about the emergence of discussions polarizing the concepts of self and private commonly used in relation to profit and associated with fragmentation, division, partisanship and one-sidedness, with those of the state and the “public”, represented by the duke and linked to official or royal. That is, the leader himself, associated with unity, wholeness, objectivity and universality. The latter refers to the “Universal Way”. [105] Legalism and mohism are characterized by this concern for objectivity. [106] These and similar statements, along with the text`s mocking language (he calls moral values “parasites” or “lice”) explain why Shang Yang became famous in the eyes of imperial writers as well as many modern scholars as an enemy of morality. However, this conclusion must be qualified. The “alienating rhetoric” exemplified above focuses on only a few chapters of Lord Shang; most others show more accommodating views of traditional moral values; some even promise that “the sovereign sage” would be able to “implement benevolence and righteousness in all things under heaven” (Shang jun shu 13:82; Book of Lord Shang 13:6; see also the detailed analysis in Pines 2012). It seems that the text does not attack morality as such, but moralizing discourse.

It is this discourse – or, more accurately, its holders, the itinerant “service men” seeking employment in the courts of the rulers – that arouses Shang Yang`s indignation. The Yongzheng Emperor of the Qing Dynasty was called “hsun ming tse she (romanization)” or “require a performance according to the title” in a Qing document “Teng Ssu-yu”, an almost literal use of Han Feizi. [6]:89 For more than 200 years, the Chinese people experienced war as their daily reality, and a legalistic approach to controlling people`s worst impulses – controlling people by threatening to punish severely for doing wrong – seemed to be the best way to deal with the chaos. Shang Yang`s legalism dealt with everyday situations, but also extended to how to behave in wartime, and he is credited with the tactic of total war, which allowed the Qin state to defeat other warring states in order to control China. Ministers use all their intelligence and strength to satisfactorily accomplish his work, in which the leader does not participate, but only waits for the work to be completed. As a result, each task is completed. So the right way of government is. [210] [211] Han Fei`s rare appeal (among legalists) to the use of scholars (legal and methodological specialists) makes him comparable to the Confucians in this sense.

The ruler cannot inspect all officials himself and must rely on decentralized (but faithful) application of laws and methods (fa). Unlike Shen Buhai and his own rhetoric, Han Fei insists that loyal ministers (such as Guan Zhong, Shang Yang and Wu Qi) exist and should be elevated with maximum authority. Although Fajia sought to strengthen the power of the ruler, this plan effectively neutralizes him and reduces his role to maintaining the system of reward and punishment determined by impartial methods and issued by specialists who are supposed to protect him by their application. [257] [258] By combining Shen Buhai`s methods with Shang Yang`s insurance mechanisms, Han Fei`s leader simply employs anyone offering his services. [106] Li Si`s attack on private learning is often misinterpreted as a victory of “legalists” over “Confucian” ideology, but this is false.