Primary Thinkers of Legalism
Han Feizi (d. 233 BCE)
- Believed that people act according to one principle, avoiding punishment.
- Was a member of the aristocracy and believed that strict law was necessary to control society.
- Was a part of the ruling Han family of China during the Warring States Period of Chinese history, when regional warlords were battling to control areas of the nation.
- Was a follower of Confucian thinking for a time, and tried to travel teaching its precepts. Unfortunately, he had a significant stuttering problem and was not effective as a teacher.
Xun Zi (c. 310-237 BCE)
- Primarily a Confucian scholar who believed that humans are innately selfish and evil and that the natural state of human societies is Anarchy, endless wars and chaos.
- Was a strong influence on the thinking of Han Feizi.
- The law code must be clearly written and publically available.
- All people except the ruler are equal under the law.
- Laws should reward those who follow them and punish severely those who do not.
- Morality is unimportant in Legalism.
- The rulers should use special methods and “secrets” to make sure that they retain control of the state.
- Legitimacy, charisma and power
- It is the position of ruler, not the person, that holds power.