Differences between schools of belief

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Unread postby Lady Wu » Fri Sep 27, 2002 4:31 am

:oops: *bows humbly* :oops:
I hope I hadn't missed out anything important...
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Unread postby Zhang Ren » Fri Sep 27, 2002 4:46 am

IMO, the only school of belief that serve China well for more than 2000 years was Legalism. Qin was the first state to adopt it, but their failure was due to the fact that they never tried to mask it with Neo-confucism. Han and later dynasties used Legalism as well, but they tried very hard to hide it under the vile of Neo-confucism. :roll:
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Fri Sep 27, 2002 7:05 pm

I don't know where Chinese civilisation would be if China was rule solely through unmasked Legalism. Strict Legalism is basically anti-intellectual, and art plays no part in society. Commerce and trading were also discouraged even more than under a "Confucianist" state (I even have the feeling that the anti-commercialism stance of neo-Confucianism came from the Legalist tradition).
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Unread postby Fan Jun » Fri Sep 27, 2002 7:25 pm

Is Legalism just a pretty word for Tyrranism ? :lol:
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Unread postby Zhang Ren » Fri Sep 27, 2002 11:07 pm

Lady Wu wrote:I don't know where Chinese civilisation would be if China was rule solely through unmasked Legalism. Strict Legalism is basically anti-intellectual, and art plays no part in society. Commerce and trading were also discouraged even more than under a "Confucianist" state (I even have the feeling that the anti-commercialism stance of neo-Confucianism came from the Legalist tradition).


Chinese legalism was anti-Confucism I agree, but calling it anti-intellectual is not what legalism was about. There are many ancient Chinese thinkers supported Legalism mainly because it a more fairer system and more systematic not like the old confucism thought of a rulers randomly dishes out kindness to his people.
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Sat Sep 28, 2002 3:43 am

Quoted from Chapter 50 of Han Fei Tzu:

"But as long as the sovereign honors the scholars who despise things and esteem life, it will be impossible to expect the people to sacrifice tehir lives and be loyal to their sovereign to the death...

"Suppose there again is someone who collects books, practices the art of speaking, gathers a band of pupils, wears an appearance of culture and learning, and discusses the principles of all things. The ruler of the time will respect him for this... Now, those who are taxed by the magistrates are the farmers, while those who are maintained by the sovereign are the learned gentlemen... It will be impossible to expect the people to work hard and talk little...

"Therefore, the intelligent ruler... does not speak about deeds of humanity and righteousness, and he does not listen to the words of learned man..."

And my personal favourite:

"The intelligence of the people is not to be relied upon any more than the mind of a baby."

You may argue that this is just a reaction to those Confucianists and Mo-ists of the time who are concerned with theoretical stuff and have little understanding of the grim realities of life. However, these passage and others not quoted here convey a disdain and even a fear of the literati. People who think are dangerous; they criticize the government and challenge the laws. It is difficult to pursue the path of world domination if there are people who realise the inhumaneness of warfare. Besides, if people are encouraged to think independently, they would be difficult to control.

Don't forget that the great Burning of the Books is a direct consequence of applying Legalist theory in governing. See Li Si's memorial to Emperor Qin Shihuang. :wink:
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Sat Sep 28, 2002 3:53 am

Fan Jun wrote:Is Legalism just a pretty word for Tyrranism ? :lol:

Yes and no. Legalism advocates a totalitarian state, but it doesn't suggest that rulers should be cruel just for the heck of it. Legalists believe that rulers should be cruel only for the purpose of putting the people on the right track to help him expand his power and to consolidate his rule.

Since the people are likened to babies, the ruler is compared to an adult. Adults should beat the baby once in a while to make them behave, but not torture it for no reason. Besides being abuse, it decreases the productivity and efficiency of the kingdom. Qin was the first state to make wife-beating illegal. Not because they were women's rights advocates -- but because women are a source of labour as well, and baby-bearing machines. Men could get severely penalised for beating their wives because they were decreasing the overall productivity of the state.

Re-reading some of the Legalist literature, I am reminded of the Nazis and the Maoist China...
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