/When Was Legalism Created

When Was Legalism Created

Yang partially abolished primogeniture (based on the son`s performance) and created double taxation for households that had more than one son in the household to divide large clans into nuclear families. Feng Youlan and Liang Qichao describe Fajia elements as Fa (often translated as law, but closer to „norms” or „method”[122]), authority or power (Shi), and „technique” (Shu), that is, the art of governing or „the art of conducting affairs and dealing with people.” [123] Less well-defined than Confucianism and Mohism, it is not clear when the fajia was considered an intellectual faction that formed a complex of ideas only in the time of Li Si (280-208 BC), the first emperor`s chief advisor. [124] While the first legalistic act dates back to Zichan (and with him Deng Xi),[125] Chinese scholar K. C. Hsiao and sinologist Herrlee G. Creel considered fajia to come from two different contemporary thinkers, as described by Han Fei:[6]:48, 69, 100, 103, 113.[123][126][13]:81[3]:59.[127][128][9]:15 The first to use the term fa jia was Sima Qian`s father, Sima Tan 司馬談 (died 110 BC). In an essay on the „nature of the six schools of thought,” Sima Tan notes that fa jia „are strict and have little kindness” and „make no distinction between relatives and strangers, or between nobles and viles: everything is determined by norm (or law, fa).” Sima Tan criticized the legalists` approach as „a one-off policy that could not be applied constantly,” but also praised Jia Fa for „honoring leaders and devaluing subjects and clearly distinguishing functions so that no one can override [his responsibilities]” (Shiji 130:3289-3291; for translations, see Smith 2003:141; Goldin 2011:89). A century later, the bibliographic category fa jia was created. Han librarian Liu Xiang 劉向 (79-8 BC) identified ten texts from the Han Imperial Library as Fa Jia (Han shu 30:1735). From then on, the „legalistic school” remained a main category of imperial book catalogues. Since the beginning of the 20th century, this term has been widely used to classify and analyze ancient Chinese thought. Legalism is an approach to the analysis of legal issues characterized by abstract logical thinking that focuses on the applicable legal text, such as a constitution, law, or jurisprudence, rather than the social, economic, or political context. In its narrower versions, legalism perpetuates the idea that the pre-existing body of authoritative legal documents already contains a predetermined „right answer” to any legal problem that may arise; and that the task of the judge is to ensure this unequivocal answer by means of an essentially mechanical procedure.

This application of the Western law school has little to do with the Chinese philosophical school of the same name, which is being discussed from now on. The sovereign does not reveal his desires; If he does, the minister will carve and decorate them. He does not reveal his point of view; If he does, the Minister will use it to express his other [opinion]. The way of the enlightened ruler is to let the connoisseurs completely exhaust their contemplations – then the ruler relies on them to decide things and is not exhausted by knowledge; To let the worthy use their talents – then the leader relies on them, assigns tasks and is not exhausted by abilities. If there is success, the leader has a worthy [name]; If it fails, the minister takes responsibility. (Han Feizi 5:27) The brilliant leader is undifferentiated and calm in waiting, where names (roles) are defined and things fix themselves. If he is undifferentiated, then he can understand when reality is pure, and if he is calm, then he can understand when the movement is right. [243] [244] [245] [246] [132]: 186–187 [247] Shen Buhai formalized the concept of shù (術, „methods”), a bureaucratic administrative model to assist the ruler and prevent mismanagement. In legalism, the intelligent minister was the ruler`s most important instrument of government. The minister`s job was to understand and regulate certain issues; The leader was responsible for properly assessing the ministers` achievements. The ruler must master the technique of comparing words (ming) and performance (xing). The Yellow Emperor said, „A hundred battles a day are fought between the superior and his subordinates.” Subordinates hide their private [interests] and try to test their superior; The supervisor applies standards and measures to restrict subordinates.

Therefore, when norms and standards are established, they are the treasure of the leader; When cliques and cabals are formed, they are the minister`s treasure. If the minister does not assassinate his leader, it is because the cliques and the cabal are not formed. (Han Feizi 8:51) Legalism was the idea of the central government of the Qin Dynasty, culminating in the unification of China under the „first emperor” (Qin Shi Huang). He is the master in the 2002 film Hero and several other films. Most Chinese philosophers and political thinkers had very negative views about legalism and blamed it for what would now be considered a totalitarian society. Many Chinese scholars believe it was a backlash against legalism that gave Chinese imperial policy its personalist and moralistic flavor instead of emphasizing the rule of law. However, this view of the Qin may be biased, as most Chinese historical documents were written by Confucian scholars who were persecuted among the Qin. During the Qin Dynasty, all books that did not support legalistic philosophy were burned, and writers, philosophers, and teachers of other philosophies were executed. The excesses of legalism of the Qin Dynasty made the regime very unpopular with the people of the time. After the fall of Qin, legalism was abandoned in favor of Confucianism, which significantly influenced the development of Chinese culture. The jurists stressed that the head of state is endowed with the „secrecy of authority” (勢 shì) and that his decisions must always require the respect and obedience of the people.

Shen Dao and Shen Buhai devalued the charismatic leader`s importance and instead emphasized his position as a source of authority. The purpose of legalism was to establish a „natural” and automatic politics that would be consistent with Dao (the way the natural world works). A leader must therefore embody Dao by practicing „non-action”, „emptiness” and „calm” to allow the natural flow of events.