Who Was the Founder of Legalism
]]> Legalism and Chinese philosophy Unlike the intuitive anarchy of Taoism and the benevolence of Confucianism, legalism is a classical Chinese philosophy that places the need for order above all other human concerns. Political doctrine developed in the brutal years of the fourth century B.C. (Schafer 83). Legalists believed that government could only become a science if leaders were not deceived by pious and impossible ideals such as “tradition” and “humanity.” According to legalists, attempts to improve the human situation by noble example, education and ethical imperatives were useless. Instead, the people needed a strong government and a carefully crafted code of law, as well as a police force that would enforce these rules rigorously and impartially, severely punishing even the smallest violations. Founder Ch`in based his reign on these totalitarian principles and had high hopes that his government would last forever. 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. Although both Confucianism and legalism called for a hierarchy of government and adherence to tradition, the difference between the two schools is that Confucianism advocated a benevolent rule by example. He had an optimistic view of human potential. (Mencius is often cited as a contrasting example of a Confucian philosopher as opposed to the legalistic doctrine of Hsün-tzu.) The difference is also clearly evident in the imagery of the writings of each philosophy. The predominant imagery in the writings of legalism is to straighten or forcibly bend the crooked branches of trees so that they grow perfectly straight, or to use hot irons to burn the branches of trees so that they grow in the desired direction. Works consulted: Lau, D. C. “Glossary.” Lao Tzu: The Tao Te Ching. NY: Penguin Books, 1963. Schafer, Edward H.
Old China. The Great Age of Man: A History of World Cultures. NY: Time Life Books, 1967. >]]> legalists 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. The leader should not act, but let his subordinates act and be responsible for the consequences of their actions. The position of the ruler is comparable to the centre of a ladder or ladder; The center does not move, but knows which side of the ladder is heavier than the other.
The ruler must distance himself and use the “two grips” of reward and punishment or power over life and death to control his people. Taking into account the information of the time (1955) and the era of which he speaks, A. F. P. Hulsewé goes so far as to call Shang Yang the “founder of the school of law” 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. The ideals of legalism were born about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago by judicial officials of the Xia and Shang dynasties in China`s history. Unlike Confucianism, Taoism or Mohism, legalism had no exact founder.
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. The history of legalism in Korea dates back to Gyeonggukdaejeon, a code of laws compiled during the Joseon Dynasty. There is a mixed perception of legalism within South Korean society, as the military regime used the concept of legalism as a governmental tool after World War II. The ideas are closely related to Chinese legalism, but sometimes differ in some Koreans` aversion to what they see as China`s use of legalism to legitimize Chinese imperialism.
 But history has been cruel to legalists. The Qin dynasty (221-207 BC), which was to rule for “countless generations” (Shiji 6:236), collapsed shortly after the death of the founder, who was brought down by a popular rebellion of unprecedented scale and cruelty. This rapid collapse – which occurred just a few years after Li Si`s infamous biblioclasm – shaped Qin`s image for millennia to come. The dynasty was no longer a success, but a story of dismal failure; And the ideas that guided their policymakers have also been discredited. Already in the first generations after the Qin, a consensus was reached: their collapse was due to excessive activism, abnormal assertion of its administrative apparatus, excessive use of punishment, senseless expansionism and paralyzing distrust between emperors and their entourage (Jia Yi 賈誼 [200-168 BC. A.D.] cited in Shiji 6: 276-284; Xin yu 4:62). All this policy could usefully be attributed to the legalists, whose intellectual legacy has therefore been discredited.