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 ” ? (LAW), “SHU ? ” (METHOD) AND “SHI ? ” (POWER). BEFORE HAN FEIZI, LEGALIST PHILOSOPHERS SUCH AS SHANG YANG ONLY STRESSED ON “FA ? “, SHEN BUHAI ONLY STRESSED ON “SHU ? ”, WHILE SHEN DAOQIANG ONLY STRESSED ON “SHI ? ”. 2 HAN FEIZI BELIEVED THAT “FA ”? , “SHU ?” and “Shi ? ” should all be implemented together.
If only “Shu ? ” is taken into practice and “FA ” ? IS NEGLECTED, PEOPLE HAVE NO REASON TO FOLLOW THE LAW. IF “FA ” ? IS BEING IMPLEMENTED then this can bring the state wealth and power but without “Shu ? ” the regime will not be able to maintain its ruling and without “Shi ? ”, 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 ” ? (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 1 Ivanhoe, P. J. , and Van Norden Bryan W. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. New York: Seven Bridges, 2001. Print 2 Ivanhoe, P. J. , and Van Norden Bryan W.
Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. New York: Seven Bridges, 2001. Print 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 ? ” (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 to effectively control officials and subjects. Han FeiZi believed that a ruler must utilize “Shu ?
”in order to identify loyal officials from disloyal subjects. This will help the ruler consolidate power and strength in order to control his subjects effectively Han FeiZi urged rulers to control officials and subjects by the two “handles” of punishment and favor. 4 An official’s accomplishments must neither be greater than nor less than their assigned duties. A minster is always held accountable for his and his subordinate’s actions. Also the ruler must not allow people to know his thoughts and should be suspicious of everyone. In doing so, the ruler can prevent takeovers and rebellions for his position.
5 “Shi ? ” (Power) 3 Mo, Di, Xunzi, Fei Han, and Burton Watson. Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hs? n Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu. New York: Columbia UP, 1967. Print. 4 Ivanhoe, P. J. , and Van Norden Bryan W. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. New York: Seven Bridges, 2001. 323. Print 5 Mo, Di, Xunzi, Fei Han, and Burton Watson. Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hs? n Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu. New York: Columbia UP, 1967. Print. In Legalism, power is an important part of governance. If a ruler does not wield any power then the law becomes a superficial notion and method will be useless.
In order to ruler over a kingdom, the leader has to possess power. In Legalism, power should be employed within the confines of law in order to maximize its usage. If the law is ignored in order to exercise power, then this kind of power can easily lead to chaos and turmoil. Power is not inherently good or evil but the person who wields it can be a moral or immoral person. It is important to employ “FA ” ? AND “SHI ? ” TOGETHER BECAUSE IF A RULER HAS NO POWER THEN THE LAW CANNOT BE ENFORCED which makes a superficial ruler but if one has power but is not constrained by law, this can lead
to an abuse of power that can bring harm to society. 6 BY EMPLOYING ALL THREE TENANTS OF “FA ”? , “SHU ? ”AND “SHI ? ”, LEGALISM CAN BRING STABILITY AND peace to my state. I would employ Legalism in my state because it can help expand the population of my kingdom by uniting the warring factions and states under my control. According to Legalist ideals hereditary titles must be abolished and only those who have merit should hold government positions. This means I should not employ family members and friends because they can influence my decisions on a personal level.
This can eliminate corruption and cronyism from my kingdom. 7 Next by creating strict laws for the citizens to follow will foster obedience through punishments and favors. 8 According to Legalist scholars, to expand my state’s population I should also focus on agriculture and the military which will to a surplus of food and 6 Mo, Di, Xunzi, Fei Han, and Burton Watson. Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hs? n Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu. New York: Columbia UP, 1967. Print. 7 De Bary, William Theodore, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Print. 197.
8 De Bary, William Theodore, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Print. 196 help create stronger warriors. This will allow for more conquests and military campaigns. By investing state resources into agriculture, famines can be prevented and populations will grow. 9 Also a mandatory military service for a short time will help my kingdom fight against the barbarians from the west. 10. Finally, increasing the military can also prevent invasions and help my state conquer lands, thus leading to an increase in population as well.
Another reason I would employ Legalism because it can also help increase the wealth in my state. The increase in food will help increase trade of agricultural products like millet and wheat as well as other products like plums, apricots, dates, melons, persimmons, beef and pork. Through military conquests an increase of natural resources, tax revenue and workers will help strength the state economy. Lastly, the creation of strict laws with emphasis on collective responsibility will help prevent people from violating the laws. Other philosophies have merits that could help me govern my state.
The main ideas of Confucianism are to establish a harmonic society, rather than to promote the interests of the ruler. Second, the Confucianism school does not encourage the usage of material incentives and opposed the usage of severe punishments to rule. To motivate individual behavior, moral obligations were emphasized. 11 Third, the Confucianism school did not value institutions in inducing desirable behavior and that human nature is inherently good. Fourth, in terms of foreign relations, Confucianism discouraged a state’s invasion of other states. Confucianism argued that
9 Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print. 52. 10 Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print. 40. 11 Ivanhoe, P. J. , and Van Norden Bryan W. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. New York: Seven Bridges, 2001. 323. Print by following the guidance of li, a humane ruler would induce residents in other states to accept the rule of the humane ruler voluntarily. Relying on military force as a defense would be inferior and would be unnecessary for a state.
12 To expand the population of my state, Confucianism recommends cultivating goodness (ren) as well as maintaining ritual propriety (li) so I become the most righteous ruler in the land. When a ruler is righteous, his subjects perform righteous tasks down to the common man and people from other lands shall visit my state. 13 This would increase my kingdom’s population. To increase the wealth of my state, Confucian scholars would recommend returning to the traditional Zhou tax system of the 10% tithe. 14
This will allow farmers to have enough grain to reduce famines and allow more trade to be conducted when there is an excess of products. Confucians would not endorse a state that seeks profit over goodness because goodness (ren) is more desirable for a Confucian gentleman (junzi).
When a ruler decides that profit is worth more than virtues, his subjects begin to look for profits as well and ignore virtues, thus leading to gradual corruption within the state. 15 I would not employ Confucianism in my state because while cultivating goodness and being a gentleman is an honorable task, I am only interested in 12 Slingerland, Edward Gilman.
“Kongzi (Confucius) ‘The Analects. ’” In Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, 1-58. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. , 2005. Print. 13 Slingerland, Edward Gilman. “Kongzi (Confucius) ‘The Analects. ’” In Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, 1-58. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. 2005. Print. 14 Slingerland, Edward Gilman,” Kongzi (Confucius) ‘The Analects. ” In Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. 1-58. Indianapolis, IH: Hackett Publishing Company Inc. 2005. Print 15 De Bary, William Theodore, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol.
1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. 115. Print. increasing my kingdom’s wealth, population and status. Legalist scholars say it would be hard to reduce the tax to 10% and should be kept at a 20% tithe in order to have enough currency and supplies to supply a growing army. Also the selection of government officials through recommendations valued by Confucianism led to high level of corruption. High positions of the government were monopolized by individuals with strong family backgrounds and capable individuals with weak family backgrounds could not get high rank positions.
16 To reduce corruption in my kingdom, I should abolish hereditary titles and promote through merit so there would be fairness in my government and less bribery and dishonesty. 17 Another philosophy that has gained momentum and fame is Daoism. Daoism is centered on the ideas of wu (emptiness) and wuwei (non-doing). It also places importance on Yin and Yang.
Daoism promotes the idea that material items will not satisfy a person’s soul, leading to lifelong emptiness and competition. 18 Daoism also endorses the idea of non-doing but this does not mean to do nothing at all. It simply means that we must not interfere with the natural course of things.
The practice of non-action will lead to spiritual harmony with the Tao. Daoism explains the true path to happiness is to throw away all desires so people will not become selfish or corrupt, throw away concepts of justice and morality so people will do the right thing and throw away profit so people will not become thieves. 19 16 17 De Bary, William Theodore, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. 197. Print. 18 Ivanhoe, P. J. , and Van Norden Bryan W. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. New York: Seven Bridges, 2001.
323. Print 19 Laozi, and Jonathan Star. Tao Te Ching: The New Translation from Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008. Print. Daoist ideas would not help me achieve my goals of increases in population, wealth or uniting the warring states under my control. Daoist scholars would argue that the population does not need to be bigger than it already is. The sage Laozi has said that a state should be small and the people few so that they will have fewer ambitions and acquire less wealth, keeping them happy without the excess of material possessions.
20 Daoist’s would also be against increasing state wealth because in doing so, it will tempt people with desires of wealth and that will lead to corruption in the state. 21 Daoist scholars would encourage me to do nothing and allow things to go their way naturally which is the concept of wuwei. Daoism would be against war and trying to unify the states under my rule. I would not employ Daoism because it does not help me achieve my goals of a great kingdom. I want to go on war campaigns to conquer lands and have control over my kingdom.
Allowing people freedom to do whatever they want will lead of instability and I cannot have that in my state. In times of turmoil, it is a foolish thing to try and bring peace by doing nothing. Other states will invade my kingdom if any signs of weakness show. It is better to strengthen the people with military training and values so that they can protect their homes and the state from barbarians, and invading armies. 22 This is why I would not employ the use of Daoism in my kingdom. The last school of thought I considered employing in my kingdom is Mohism. Mohists are the main rivals to Confucians in promoting a way of life centered on moral teachings.
20 De Bary, William Theodore, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. 94 Print. 21 De Bary, William Theodore, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. 80 Print. 22 Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 52. Print. Mohists rejected rituals and music that is central to Confucian beliefs, seeing them as wasteful and pointless. Mohists endorsed moral practices that promote the welfare of all.
Mohists sought a way to restore order (zhi) to human society. 23 The Mohists saw people as naturally good, and thus concerned about their family and community, and generally ? committed to doing what they take to be morally right. But if people fail to distinguish right from wrong properly because of a lack of proper education and political leadership, conflicts will arise, leading to disorder. 24 To prevent disorder Mohists want everyone to follow a unified moral code. Ideally, this project would be carried out through a government administered by wise, virtuous leaders, who at each level of the state hierarchy would teach everyone to draw moral distinctions in the same way.
This way everyone would have the same moral standards and conduct themselves in similar ways by knowing what is right or wrong. 25 To accomplish my goals in attaining wealth and population increases, Mohists scholars would want to promote officials by merit as well and would want to eliminate the rites that Confucians endorse. If I employ the able and worthy, my kingdom will attract virtuous people. 26 Mohists would not want to engage in wars, but would extend the concept of universal love (jian 23 Mo, Di, Xunzi, Fei Han, and Burton Watson.
Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hs? n Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu. New York: Columbia UP, 1967. Print. 24 Ivanhoe, P. J. , and Van Norden Bryan W. Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. New York: Seven Bridges, 2001. 323. Print 25 Mo, Di, Xunzi, Fei Han, and Burton Watson. Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hs? n Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu. New York: Columbia UP, 1967. Print. 26 De Bary, WilliamTheodore, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. 67. Print. ai). 27 Mohists believe if a noble king rules by partiality and is malevolent towards his
neighboring states; other states will want to destroy his kingdom. If however, he rules by universality and is benevolent towards the other states, then other states will hold him in high regard. I would not employ Mohism in my state because I do not care about universal love or benevolence or morality. My goals for the kingdom are purely political and economic based. I want to be remembered in history for being the ruler of the strongest, largest and most wealthy state. During times of turmoil a strong military and cunningness is needed in order overcome the other states.
28 Legalism is the best choice for my state because it promotes a highly structured society. This can prevent instability and internal conflicts. Also by promoting a system of government based on merit, it eliminates corruption and unqualified people from participating in government. Confucianism allows for too much corruption because mostly nobles dominate the government. Daoism advocates non-doing and peace but that is exactly the opposite of what I want for my kingdom. Doing nothing can lead to instability because there is no structure and everyone can do whatever they please.
Lastly Mohism places too much emphasis on morals and peace. To maintain a kingdom, the ruler has to make the state ready to invade other states and for invasions as well. To survive in this period of chaos and wars, only the strong survive. Legalism provides the structure I need to rule my kingdom ruthlessly and effectively. 27 De Bary, William Theodore, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. 70. Print. 28 Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. 52. Print.
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