Legalism (Chinese Philosophy)

Legalism (Chinese Philosophy)

In Chinese history, Legalism (Chinese: 法家; literally "School of Law"; pinyin: fă jiā) was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States Period, although the term itself was later applied during the Han Dynasty and thus does not refer to an organized 'school' of thought. Legalism was a utilitarian political philosophy that did not address higher questions like the nature and purpose of life. The school's most famous proponent and contributor Han Fei Zi (韓非子) believed that a ruler should use the following three tools to govern his subjects:

  • Fa (Chinese: 法; pinyin: ; literally "law or principle"): The law code must be clearly written and made public. All people under the ruler were equal before the law. Laws should reward those who obey them and punish accordingly those who dare to break them. Thus it is guaranteed that actions taken are systematically predictable. In addition, the system of law ran the state, not the ruler, a statement of rule of law. If the law is successfully enforced, even a weak ruler will be strong.
  • Shu (Chinese: 術; pinyin: shù; literally "method, tactic or art"): Special tactics and "secrets" are to be employed by the ruler to make sure others don't take over control of the state. Especially important is that no one can fathom the ruler's motivations, and thus no one can know which behaviour might help them get ahead, other than following the 法, or laws.
  • Shi (Chinese: 勢; pinyin: shì; literally "legitimacy, power or charisma"): It is the position of the ruler, not the ruler himself or herself, that holds the power. Therefore, analysis of the trends, the context, and the facts are essential for a real ruler.

Read more about Legalism (Chinese Philosophy):  Origin, Rulers, Ministers, Purpose of Law, Individual Autonomy, Decline, Related Figures, Related Philosophies and Concepts

Other related articles:

Legalism (Chinese Philosophy) - Related Philosophies and Concepts
... Chanakya(c. 370283 BCE),the contemporary Indian teacher,philosopher and royal advisor,who managed the first Maurya emperor Chandragupta rise to power,act as a similar ... Chanakya was authored the ancient Indian political treatise called Arthastra,contemporary with the Book of Lord Shang of Shang Yang,due to which he is considered as the pioneer of the ...