Midterm Essay

Topics: Chinese philosophy, Confucianism, Han Dynasty Pages: 11 (2614 words) Published: March 24, 2015

As a ruler in the Warring States period, my kingdom’s survival has the utmost importance. Therefore, choosing a philosophy to base my government upon is a crucial decision. Legalism, Confucianism, Mohism, and Daoism are all great philosophies but for my state, I choose to implement Legalism. Legalism supports a rigid system based on publicized laws that deals out punishments and rewards accordingly. Legalism also emphasis an adherence to laws and customs, obedience to the ruler and receiving influential positions based on merit. Legalism as a national strategy of governance is crucial in times of chaos and constant fighting. For my kingdom I demand absolute obedience from my subjects. I want officials who are qualified by my side to help me make important decisions. I do not want a government full of family members and friends who do not have the credentials for the position. Also I believe everyone should be punished according to the law and there should be no special treatments for the nobles. Everyone is equal under the law in my state. I want to conquer neighboring lands and become the ruler of a unified China. Legalist ideas support my goals for conquest, wealth and a well-functioning government and that is why I choose to implement Legalism in my state. The main ideas of Legalism are to lengthen the rule of the ruler. To further the interest of the ruler, a ruler’s adoption of the Legalism was associated with a tight control of society. Secondly, Legalism emphasized the usage of incentives to govern. Thirdly, Legalism emphasized the usage of institutions in inducing desired behavior because the Legalists believed human nature was inherently bad. As an individual could not be trusted, Legalists paid much attention to the design of institutions to prevent undesirable things from happening. Fourth, in terms of foreign relations, the Legalism school encouraged the building of a strong army. For rulers trying to survive the competition among states, Legalism is more practical and can be implemented more easily than other schools of thought during the Warring State period.1 For my state, I would employ Han FeiZi’s form of Legalism. His ideas are centered on a combination of “Fa 法” (Law), “Shu 术” (Method) and “Shi 势” (Power). Before Han Feizi, legalist philosophers such as Shang Yang only stressed on "Fa 法", Shen Buhai only stressed on “Shu 术”, while Shen Daoqiang only stressed on “Shi 势”.2 Han Feizi believed that “Fa 法”, “Shu 术” and “Shi 势” should all be implemented together. If only “Shu 术” is taken into practice and “Fa 法” is neglected, people have no reason to follow the law. If “Fa 法” is being implemented then this can bring the state wealth and power but without “Shu 术” the regime will not be able to maintain its ruling and without “Shi 势”, a ruler will not be able to exercise order or rule efficiently. Therefore it is important to implement all three ideas together to bring peace and stability to the kingdom. “Fa 法” (Law)

In Legalism, law is used as a standard for judgment on whether a certain behavior is appropriate, inappropriate, right or wrong. Thus, all human behavior has to be confined within the boundaries set forth by the law. A Legalist type of law does not recognize the people’s needs but instead, everyone’s needs and interests will be based according to the standard of law. Legalism also stresses the importance publicizing laws so people can know and follow them. This will bring order and justice to the state. In a Legalist state everyone is equal before the law and the system of “rewards and punishments” does not care about social status, family background but instead deals out punishments and rewards accordingly. Those who contribute to the state will be rewarded, while those who violate the law will be punished.3 “Shu 术” (Method) 

Shu is a bureaucratic model of administration to aid the ruler and help prevent corruption and incompetence. It is also a political method or tactic used by a ruler...
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