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2/12/14Legalism – Han Feizi- NOT the founder of Legalismo He was an extremely clear writer, synthesized many previous Legalist doctrines into one coherent system- 280-233 BCE: For our purposes, he is the last major thinker during the warring states periodo The warring states period ends when the Qin dynasty begins, the state of Qin reads and promotes legalist teachings- Han Fei comes from the state of Han, but his teachings really caught on in Qino Qin was already sympathetic to legalist doctrines because of previous legalists, for example, Gongsun Yang (a big influence on Han Fei)- Elegant writer, but a stutterer, never held important public officeo Supposedly studied under Xunzi alongside Li Sio While in Qin, Li Si spreads rumors that Han Fei is a spyo Han Fei is imprisoned, kills himself via poison given to him by Li Si- Han Feizi was also very interested in the study of rhetorico Han Feizi argues that the art of persuasion involves as much knowing the trust and having good arguments, but knowing the other persons mind as wello If you want to convince someone, you have tog et in their headso This view on rhetoric influences Han Feizi’s philosophy. A good ruler keeps his intentions and thoughts opaque to his followers. However, the ruler should know his followers minds The Han Feizi (The Text)- Han Feizi probably wrote or advised the writing of good portions of this- It collects many views of pervious Legalists in a clear and concise and consistent way. For example, Gongsun Yang and Shen Buhaio However, Han Feizi is also going to argue that these positions can work together- Major themes:o Responses to Confucianism and Mohism Situationalismo Recognizing the selfishness of human nature Amoral philosophy o Importance of clear laws Universal applicability o Enforcement of laws Two Handles – the stick or the carrot Promotion of Merito Maintaining Government Rid society of the Five Vermin Keep your intentions opaque as a rule RhetoricResponses to Confucianism and Mohism- Confucians and Mohists seem to have a lot in commono Both advocate turning to the sage kings for helpo Both are going to advocate moral education. We need good role models to show us how to behave. Then the people will be good too But Han Feizi points out, both of these schools of thought failed to bring peace Han Feizi argues this largely because they focus too much on internal matters- Problemso 1) If Mohists and Confucians are both telling us about the sage-kings, thenwhy do they disagree? At least one of these views must be wrong Pg. 352 – Filial piety vs. irreverence; wastefulness vs. frugality, etco 2) The greatness of the sage-king period is misstated Any goodness in the quality of life did not come from virtues Pg. 241 – Sage kings brought order the interference of feelings of benevolence. NOT because of benevolence Sometimes, in the interest of peace and stability, you have to do the hard things Even if you always show love, people will sometimes misbehave. You must be ready to deal with ito 3) Even if the past was good, there is absolutely no reason to think the pastmethods will hold true in the current situation Pg. 340 – The analogy of the rabbit and the stump Confucianism and the virtues may have worked in the past, but they’re not working now. Let’s set them to one side a pursue a more amoral philosophy The Legalist Alternative- Remember Kongzi: Laws are confusing and lead to problems. They don’t solve the underlying problem. Laws encourage people to be sneaky.o Han Feizi lives in a post Xunzi world, and finds Xunzi rather compelling. People are bad by nature, according to the Han Feizi, so solving the underlying problem is futile- Society is falling apart! I will do whatever is necessary to bring peaceo Here’s what we need to accept. People are self-interested/inherently evil. We should use that to our advantage.  BMW CEO vs. Pfizer CEO2/14/14Legalism- How do we maintain peace and stability in society?o Accept that people are self-interestedo Make it so that following the laws are always in a person’s self interest- Do not mistake circumstance with virtueo Take the BMW CEO and Pfizer CEOo According to Han Feizi, both act out of self-interest, not out of virtue. So, we should make sure following laws is always in our self-interest- Most people are pretty average and not capable of greatness. We need to set the laws so that peace and stability is maintained, even with mediocre rulers- Here’s The Legalist Sage:o Pg. 357 – “The sage does not work on his virtues, he works on his laws.”o If we want people to be good, we have to use the laws to make them good- Situationism o The virtues advocated in the past don’t apply to the modern timeso Remember the story of the RabbitLegalist worked- The state Qin (Ch’in) becomes the first unified dynasty in China. Using Legalist principleso After the death of the first Qin emperor, things go south quickly. Legalist dies out.o However, many legalist principles get absorbed in Confucian thoughtHow to Make Good Laws- Step 1: Make sure you know your advisors ant that they don’t know youo You’re going to have to delegate o Pg. 314 Ch. 5 – Make sure your ministers don’t know your desires and intentions, so that they don’t try to change to please youo Pg. 316 – Know who is good at what, so you can delegate work to themo You then use the information you get from your ministers to help you form the laws- Step 2: Use the Laws to set firm standards o By setting firm standards, the grey areas aren’t supposed to be a problemo The laws should be simple, concise, ad clearo These standards are applicable to ALL people No exceptions! Including the ruler This helps in the case of mediocre/bad rules- Step 3: Make following the laws in a person’s self-interesto The Two Handles Harsh punishments Generous Rewards o Application of the two handles holds for following the lawso But it also applies to appropriate fulfilling of one’s duty This means failing to do one’s duty, but also overstepping one’s duty If you do more than you say, you must be punished2/17/14The Two Handles (Seen on page 317)- Make sure that following the laws is always in a person’s self-interest through the use of Harsh Punishments- Make sure that following the laws is always in a person’s self interest through the use of Generous Rewards- Pg. 343 – the laws must be known, clear, and


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OSU PHILOS 2120 - Legalism – Han Feizi

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