Why is the singularity of the sovereign`s position so important? This is because, by the mere fact of his exclusive authority, the ruler is able to settle conflicts between his ministers and maintain the chain of command in his state, without which the state can collapse. This also explains the emphasis on the absolute obedience of legalists to the leader`s orders, embodied in the dictum of punishing a minister who disobeys orders, even if the results of his actions have been successful (Guanzi 45:913; Rickett, 1998: 150). Similarly, the aforementioned saying in Han Feizi to punish an excessive minister can be understood in this context: fear of a minister`s grand ambitions and potential disobedience outweighs other considerations. The exclusivity and omnipotence of the sovereign are the sine qua non condition for good political order. Maintaining and strengthening its authority is the declared political commitment of legalists. The founder of the legalistic school was Hsün Tzu or Hsün-tzu. The most important principle in his thinking was that humans are inherently evil and prone to criminal and selfish behavior. So if people are allowed to engage with their natural inclinations, the result will be conflict and social disorder. As a solution to this problem, the ancient wise kings invented morality. Since morality does not exist in nature, the only way to behave morally is through habituation and severe punishment (Lau 120). Like the Italian political philosopher Machiavelli, Hsün Tzu clearly distinguishes between what belongs to heaven and what belongs to man. Later legalistic thought influenced Chinese political theorists such as Tung Chung-shu, who believed in a rigid mathematical relationship in social arrangements.

For more than 200 years, the Chinese people have experienced war as their daily reality, and a legalistic approach to trying to control people`s worst impulses – controlling people through the threat of severe punishment for injustice – would have been the best way to deal with the chaos. Shang Yang`s legalism dealt with everyday situations, but also extended to how to behave in wartime, and he is credited with the tactic of total war, which allowed the Qin state to defeat other warring states in order to control China. What is the connection between legalism and other ancient Chinese philosophies? Who was the most powerful proponent of legalism in ancient China? Han Fei insists on the perfect congruence between words and deeds. Name customization is more important than results. [140]: 284 The conclusion, execution or result of a work is the adoption of a fixed form (xing), which can then be used as a standard against the original claim (ming). [250] A great demand, but a small achievement is not suitable for the initial oral effort, while a larger achievement is recognized by exceeding the limits of the function. [251] Movement between social classes is permitted. The old hierarchy and aristocratic inheritance had to be abolished. Early Zhou kings kept a firm personal hand over the government, based on their personal abilities, personal relations between the ruler and minister, and military power. Since the technique of centralized government was so undeveloped, they transferred authority to feudal lords.

When the Zhou kings could no longer grant new fiefdoms, their power began to decline, vassals began to identify with their own regions,[55] and schismatic hostilities broke out between the Chinese states.[54] The “legalistic” current still has a great influence on administration, politics and legal practice in China. [29] [30] Therefore, it is more important to develop the economy than to teach people to achieve high morality, as well as to introduce explicit punishments to get rid of bad activities. Taking into account the information of the time (1955) and the era of which he speaks, A. F. Le P. Hulsewé goes so far as to call Shang Yang the “founder of the school of jurisprudence” and considers his unification of sentences as one of his most important contributions; That is, to pronounce the death penalty for anyone who does not obey the king`s orders. Shang Yang even expected the king, although the source of the law (which authorized it), to follow him. This treatment contrasts with ideas that are more typical of archaic society and are portrayed more closely in Zhou rites, giving different punishments to different layers of society. Legalism remained in force throughout the Qin Dynasty until its fall in 206 BC. After the fall of Qin, the states of Chu and Han fought for control of the country until Xiang-Yu of Chu (l. 232-202 BC) was defeated by Liu Bang of Han (l. c.

256-195 BC) at the Battle of Gaixia in 202 BC. The Han Dynasty was founded. The Han Dynasty ruled for a long time, from 202 BC. AD to 220 AD, and began many of the most important cultural advances in Chinese history, the opening of the Silk Road being only one of them. The sinologist Jacques Gernet called them the “theoreticians of the state” and considered Fa-Jia to be the most important intellectual tradition of the fourth and third centuries BC. [47] Fa-Jia pioneered the measures of centralization and economic organization of the population by the state, which characterized the entire period from Qin to the Tang dynasty; [48] The Han Dynasty adopted the governing institutions of the Qin Dynasty almost unchanged. [49] [6]: 105 Legalism regained prominence at the end of the Mao Zedong era with his anti-Confucian campaign. [50] [51] This seems to be a rare insight into the fundamental inability of the administrative system to monitor itself over the long term; However, the discovery does not lead to radical alternatives to the system of control over officials. The chapter merely asserts the superiority of techniques and rules over personal interference by the leader in policy-making, and does not explain how these would prevent the machinations of supervisors. To the extent that techniques and rules are implemented by selfish – or simply erroneous – people, the question remains: to what extent can the impersonal mode of government cure the diseases inherent in the bureaucratic system (cf. Van Norden 2013)? This question remains one of the greatest challenges to the legacy of legalists. Compared to Plato by the sinologist Chris Fraser, the Hermeneutics of the Mohists contained the philosophical seeds of what Sima-Tan would call the “Fa school” (“legalists”) and contributed to the political thought of contemporary reformers.

[97] The Mohists and the Guanzi text attributed to Guan Zhong are of particular importance to the understanding of Fa,[101] which means “to illustrate” or “to imitate.” [14]:349 [102],[103] Dan Robins of the University of Hong Kong considers the Fa “important in early Chinese philosophy mainly because of the Mohists.” [104] Gongsun deliberately produced a level playing field between the governed and strict control of the economy, and encouraged total loyalty to the state, including censorship and rewards for whistleblowing. The law was what the sovereign ordained, and that meant absolutism, but it was an absolutism of law as impartial and impersonal. Gongsun discouraged arbitrary tyranny or terror as the destruction of the law. [146] He emphasized people`s knowledge of the Fa and proposed an elaborate system for its distribution that allowed them to hold servants in it. [14]: 359 He saw them as the most important means of maintaining state power. He insisted that it be known and applied equally to all, and hung it on pillars erected in the new capital. In 350, with the creation of the new capital, part of Qin was divided into thirty-one counties, each “administered by a magistrate (presumably appointed centrally)”. This was an “important step towards the centralization of Ch`in administrative power” and consequently reduced the power of hereditary landowners. [13]:83 [147],[148] Legalism is an ancient Chinese philosophical school in terms of law, reform, governance, management, economic regulation, social order, etc. The basic structure and functioning of the traditional Chinese state was not “legalistic” as the term is commonly understood. Although persistent, pre-modern Chinese mainstream thought never really accepted the role of law and jurisprudence or the Shang Yang wing of fajia.