Talk:Legalism (Chinese philosophy)

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Legalism is a philosophy of the Warring States Period[edit]

I would like to try and clear some lack of knowledge in regard to Legalism. I would assert that what is called Legalism proper emerged during the Warring States Period. Others before that might be called "realistic Confucian" in terms of their outlook or proto-legalist in method. Now, many have liked to group Spring and Autumn period writers together with the Legalists because of a recognizable trend toward realist political method in the writings, but most such writers of the Spring and Autumn period would themselves not have identified as Legalist in their prescriptions (had they been presented with the standpoints, the term itself not used at that time).

One larger difference between Spring and Autumn period writers and Warring States Period Legalists is that the Spring and Autumn period writers are are not necessarily Anti-Confucian, and many readily make use of it. They are also not so draconian, whereas obvious Legalist Shang Yang is quite explicitly Anti-Confucian (there is technically no founder of the school). Han Fei is generally considered to have "perfected" Legalism, and both were involved in Qin. Though Shang Yang drew much of his policies from a number of sources, more draconian versions are applied. The state which exemplifies and for all practical purposes adopts legalism is Warring-States Period state Qin.

Of Autumn and Spring period writers, Allyn Ricket writes in Guanzi: "The political writings are usually described as Legalist, but "realist" or "pragmatic" might be a better description. For the most part they tend to present a point of view much closer to that of the realistic Confucian, Xunzi then either the highly idealistic Confucianism of Mencius or the Draconian Legalism advocated by Shang Yang and his followers and supposedly implemented in the state of Qin especially under the First Emperor." pgs 3-4

Secondly, Legalism is rule BY law, not rule OF law which is a western concept. Law in Legalism is firstly a tool of the ruler (though Han Fei argues that the ruler should try to rule by law exclusively if he can, considering this advantageous). It is not expected that the state can run itself right off the bat without the ruler by means of law, though this including eventually not having to apply the law at all is held as an ideal. (FourLights (talk) 08:35, 29 July 2011 (UTC))

Okay, but in a Western democracy, law might also be seen as a tool for the "rulers" - the people! People craft laws to achieve desirable goals, to curry favor with certain segments of the population, and as a hedge against unwanted events, and they use laws as a weapon against their opponents (via such means as lawsuits and calling the police) as well as a shield (arguing they have the right to do what they're doing). — Rickyrab. Yada yada yada 16:46, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Legalism vs. fascism vs. communism[edit]

How do legalism, fascism, and communism compare with one another? How are they alike? How are they different? 68.37.254.48 (talk) 16:35, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

They are alike in regards the expansion of the state, whose bureaucracy defined post-Qin Chinese history up to the modern day. But in terms of rights, it is not like the feudal period of history was full of them. It is a faulty comparison, except for those who wish to say "look, the feudal era, like Mussolini, had an authoritarian state, in those areas developed enough to have a state." Yes, and I'd pick China to live in rather than Feudal Europe for much of history, too. Perhaps if China was more militarist they'd have kicked out the Mongols rather than merely wall them out. Consider your era. If anything, once established, China's superstate could afford to be humane than Feudal Europe. The Chinese like their unified periods. FourLights (talk) 23:10, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Pro-Legalist views[edit]

Legalism has been described in a very negative way in the dominant Confucian tradition. Here are some links to academic papers assessing Legalism in a more balanced or even positive way. http://www.philosophy.hku.hk/ch/Substance-Function.htm http://law.nus.edu.sg/sjls/articles/SJLS-2005-313.pdf

These can be useful as the material in them can make the article more balanced. The controversy about rule of law vs. rule by law is also explicitly treated there, as it should be in this article as well. I would incorporate some of the stuff there myself, but I don't feel like it, at least at the moment.--91.148.130.233 (talk) 23:45, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

"America is Great" bias[edit]

The following is a discussion posted at the Village pump; It is transferred here as a more appropriate forum for further discussion.

Good day, all. I just came from the Legalism (Chinese Philosophy) page. As I am currently in a East Asian Thought class, and we just studied that particular time period (400-200 BCE), I was able to quickly spot some... moderate bias.

Sentences I changed:

  • The entire system was set up to make model citizens behave and act how the dynasty wanted them to act against their will.
  • In theory, the Legalists believed that if the punishments were heavy and the law equally applied, neither the powerful nor the weak would be able to escape state control.
  • Guided by Legalist thought, the First Qin Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, would weaken the power of the feudal lords, divide the unified empire into thirty-six administrative provinces, and standardize the writing system.
  • Based on promoting the interests of the state Qin, the law (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; literally: "law, method, way") served as a vehicle to both control the populace and eliminate dissent

If you read carefully, you should be able to spot the bias. While I, personally, do not approve of Legalism, these sentences cast a definite negative bias. The last sentence isn't even necessary, now that I think about it. The real kicker is that there aren't any citations for the whole paragraph. Indeed, the vast majority of the page is without cited reference.

However, the lack of citation isn't my point. That agreeable bias is something we must be on the lookout for. Even if we agree with the ideas behind the bias, maybe even the bias itself, we must eliminate it. Who are we to say what the exact purpose of Legalism was? Who are we to speak for the ancient Chinese people, and what their will was? We can only speak for what was and what was not, and even that we can only do so well.— Preceding unsigned comment added by CirusArvennicus (talkcontribs)

How does "The law served as a vehicle to both control the populace and eliminate dissent" indicate "an America Is Great bias"? That's pretty much the definition of public law, be it 2nd century China, 21st century America, the Hammurabic Code or the Wikimedia Foundation Terms of Use. In modern Western democracies the people (through referenda and election of representatives), rather than the Emperor, decide what the laws will be, but that doesn't mean criminal law has any purpose other than the prevention of activity deemed undesirable by the rulers.
Your complaint about the article being unsourced seems to be based on a misunderstanding. It's missing inline citations, but that's because it's an old article (the bulk of it was written 2003–2006), written when Wikipedia practice was to have a list of sources at the end of the articles rather than the current fact-citation-fact-citation format. The sources used are all listed correctly.
You would be much better off addressing concerns to Talk:Legalism (Chinese philosophy), where those with an interest in the topic are more likely to be found. It's not very clear what, if anything, you're actually proposing here. – iridescent 16:20, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
It should be obvious to anyone that the opinions of a student taking a class in "East Asian Thought" carry more weight in Wikipedia than the preponderance of published material on the matter. Equally obvious is wisdom of discussing the vagaries of a single article (eg "Legalism (Chinese Philosophy)" aka "Legalism (Chinese philosophy)") here in Village Pump.</sarcasm>--→gab 24dot grab← 17:00, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
I would certainly agree that this is the wrong forum. The concern is about a particular article and should be discussed on that article's page. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 18:21, 29 January 2013 (UTC)

WP:ERA[edit]

This edit established the usage of this article as AD/BC. Kindly maintain it. — LlywelynII 17:33, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

Introduction[edit]

I put together the current introduction. I'm not the best writer, but I've tried to reduce my redundancies, but then I further expanded it in content. I appreciate feedback on what may or may not be appropriate for the introduction, or might otherwise be moved to some other part of the page.

I also added quotes and comment to the renamed "Strictures of Han Fei" section. Do you like these? — Preceding unsigned comment added by FourLights (talkcontribs) 21:01, 4 August 2014 (UTC)