Talk:Legalism (Chinese philosophy)

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Current status[edit]

I realize that the way the page is currently set up I go over the figures about three times. I'll have to get someone's input.FourLights (talk) 18:00, 14 July 2017 (UTC)

Working pages[edit] br>


1. "All encyclopedic content on Wikipedia must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), which means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic."FourLights (talk) 14:59, 4 December 2016 (UTC)

2. Anti-generalization.

The ideas of Creel and Chad Hansen contributed greatly to the developmnt of the article. Creel divides the Legalists into two founders, as Han Fei does. Chad Hansen connects the Fa of the "Legalists" with that of the Mohists. This seems well founded and I have no material against it. Xing-Ming is also derived from the School of the Logicians - another group which emerged from the Mohists.

I consider much in the way of Legalism, or Fa, to simply be an evolution of the "rectification of names" of the Mohists, which I put at the beginning under Fa. Even Shang Yang may be said to be an early example of this. Shang Yang's doctrine is not "laws", but "standards" (names), and includes a system of ranks and titles (names). In this he may be connected to the other more administrative Fa thinkers.

Modern documents reject Legalism as totalitarian, and emphasize the qualification of absolutism.FourLights (talk) 04:44, 29 January 2017 (UTC)

3. "Wikipedia strives to be a serious reference resource, and highly technical subject matter still belongs in some Wikipedia articles. Increasing the understandability of technical content is intended to be an improvement to the article for the benefit of the less knowledgeable readers, but this should be done without reducing the value to readers with more technical background." Admittedly, I still need someone go over the article (I had someone go over it awhile back). I have someone to do so. But it took a few months to get it to it's present state.

4. On this same note, though mulling it over, I consider the article indivisible. It cannot, with the same technical depth, be divided into it's authors pages, though I still transplant the material into them in lesser depth. However, the idea could still be mulled over transplanting a bulk of material to the Fa (Concept) page.FourLights (talk) 16:00, 14 June 2017 (UTC)


Creel discredits the influence of Taoism on Legalism, though his view is not universal. re: Mingjun Lu 2016. p.344. Implications of Han Fei’s Philosophy. Journal of Chinese Political Science. But Mingjun doesn't provide much in the way of examples except that Han Fei's ruler "discerning the Tao". Han Fei uses the term Tao but doesn't provide much in the way of examples of the ruler following the Tao - rather, he simply observes the Tao and leaves affairs to Fa. The ruler "chronicles occurrences" (the tao), commanding affairs to settle themselves according to Fa. References to the Tao of Government exist in Confucianism also. Tao doesn't originate in Taoism.

Legalist texts themselves mostly preceded Taoist texts. The Taoism in the Han Feizi or Shen Dao seems a fluorish to me (and Creel), empty of any content except the methods themselves. Having done a little translation myself, the chapter "Tao of the Sovereign" might be translated differently such that, leaving affairs to Fa, the ruler not only doesn't express himself, but does not hold interviews - the doctrine of Shen Buhai and Shen Dao, not Laozi (which is thought to have been written after them).

Not interfering affairs is inherent to the usage of Fa.

Shen Dao includes the statement that a clod of earth does not depart from the Tao. Han Fei says "The Dao is the origin of all things, and the standard (or perhaps chronicle) of right and wrong." Mingjun argues that the Legalist ruler discerns the Dao. He does not; a clod of earth does not discern; very Zhuangzhi, and the Zhuangzhi discusses Shen Dao, rather than the other way around. Rather the ruler uses Fa. If the ruler follows the Tao, the Tao of the "Legalists" itself is Fa - the heritage of the Mohists. That of the Taoists is not; the Taoists sometimes argue against Fa. I have Chad Hansen's research on the Mohists, I currently have nothing articulating the influence of "Taoism". I'll have to look up Peter Moody's text (2011).

However, Mingjun more persuasively argues that Han Fei does not oppose virtue - which often he does not..FourLights (talk) 02:41, 17 November 2016 (UTC)

Basically extra workspace[edit]

Documents of interest[edit]
The Book of Lord Shang: Apologetics of State Power in Early China

Cities of Aristocrats and Bureaucrats

Heritage of China: Contemporary Perspectives on Chinese Civilization

the bureaucratic vision of han fei tzu

Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics: Zhengyuan Fu

Jia Yi Xin Shu

Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History

A History of Chinese Political Thought, Volume One

On shi 勢, see Roger Ames, The Art of Rulership,

Sources of Chinese tradition

A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy

The Confucian-Legalist State


Leadership and Management in China

The world of thought in ancient China

Chinese Law: Context and Transformation: Revised and Expanded Edition

T'ung-tsu Chu, Local Government in China under the Ch'ing

Hanfei and Truth: Between Pragmatism and Coherentism?


Search for modern nationalism

Neo-Conucianism and Neo-Laglism in T'ang intelectual life, the confucian persuasion

On Yin Wenzi and his Legal Philosophy Pattern of Taoism

Cultural Roots of Sustainable Management

Rational Choice Analysis

The Legitimation of Chinese Lawmaking (II): Chinese Legalism

The Evolution of Legalists’ theories of the Western Han Dynasty

Law and Morality in Ancient China: The Silk Manuscripts of Huang-Lao by R. P. Peerenboom

Law in imperial China. Exemplified by 190 Ch'ing Dynasty Cases. With Historical, Social, and Juridical Commentaries, Harvard Studies in East Asian Law, 1 by Derk Bodde, Clarence Morris and Hsing-an hui-lan

Landers, James R.: "Han Fei's Legalism and Its Impact on the History of China"; p. 101-112

China's Imperial Past

The Legalists and the Fall of Ch'in

The Legalist Philosophers - Chinese Thought

The Legalists and the Laws of Ch'in - Leyden Studies in Sinology

A Tentative Discussion of Pre-Ch'in Legalists

Taoist Silk Manuscripts and Early Legalist Thought - Sages and Filial Sons

The Ch'in Bamboo strip book of divination

The Legalist School and Shi-Huang Ti

Legalist School and Legal Positivism

A Comparison of the legltimacy of power between confucianist and legalist philosophies

the legalist school was the product of great social change

the crystalization of pre-chin legalist thought

the struggle for and against restoration in the course of the founding of the Ch'in dynasty - selection from people's republic of china magazines The Legalist Concept of Hsing-Ming

the fa-chia and the shang-shu

the reformers of 1898 and pre-chin legalist thought

which books did the first emperor

ancient chinese cosmology and fa-chia theory - exploration in early chinese cosmology

the early legalist school of chinese political thought - open court

the theory of law in the ching-fa

war, punishment and the law of nature in early chinese concepts of the state

Ch'in Shi Huang's bookburning

Chinese Legal Philosophy

The Legalists - Free China Review

On 'Legalism' as an Heuristic device

The book of lord shang. Probstain's Oriental Studies vol.xvii

Shang Yang's reforms and state control in china

In criticism of Shang Yang

The theory and practice of a totalitarian state - individual and state

Some reflections on Shang Yang and his political philosophy.

Shang Yang - Sinica 3

The Book of Lord Shang and the School of Law

Shen pu-hai: a misunderstood and wrongly neglected thinker

shen tzu - early chinese texts

on the transmission of the shen tzu

Shen Tao and Fa-Chia

Shen Dao - Tietze klauss

trauzettel rolf

Han Fei and the Han Feizi

The dialect of chih and tao in the han fei tzu

the political thought of han fei

han fei zi: the man and the work

a study of han fei's thought

han fei's principle of government by law

a concordance to han-fei tzu - chinese materials center, research aids no.13

taoist metaphyiscs in the chieh lao

learned celebrities: a criticism of the confucians

five vermin: a pathological analysis of politics

a reading of han fei's 'wu tu'

trauzettel rolf - han feizi

the significance of the concept of 'fa'

the philosophical foundations of han-fei's political theory

han fei's theory of the 'rule of law'

han fei's critikue and reconstruction

constrat of the concept of li

han fei tzu: management pioneer

the legalism of the han fei tzu

han fei tzu and nicollo machiavelli

Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese philosophy

Han Feizi’s Legalism versus Kautilya’s Arthashastra

A Comparison of the Legitimacy of Power Between Confucianist and Legalist Philosophies

Xunzi and Han Fei on Human Nature

Rhetorical Authority in Athenian Democracy and the Chinese Legalism of Han Fei


Monumenta Serica, Journal of Asian History, Dao Journal of Chinese Philosophy

Haven't gone through Journal of the American Oriental Society yet. Journal of Religion

Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Philosophy

Jianghan Tribune

Reviewed documents[edit]

Chad Hansen, 1992 p.349, 352, 359 A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought

Monumenta Serica. The Legalist Concept of Hsing-Ming. John Makeham. Pages 111+ remain of interest.

Persistent Misconceptions. Reviewed once, though not it's sources. Pages 21+ remain of interest.

Erica Brindley, The Polarization of the Concepts Si (Private Interest) and Gong (Public Interest) in Early Chinese Thought. Pages 21+ remain of interest.

THE MEANING OF HSING-MING. STUDIA SERICA: Sinological studies dedicated to Bernhard Kalgren

Randall COLLINS 1998 p.148, THE SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHIES. Minor quotation.

storage[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:36, 14 June 2017 (UTC)

Though Han Fei considers people "naturally" self-interested, he suggests that "Once 'law'(Fa) and decrees prevail, the way of selfishness collapses."[1]

The belief in the necessity of an absolute monarch for the attainment of stability and order is common to most political theorists of the Warring States period.[2] Han Fei is not interested in questions like legitimacy, and does not justify his philosophy apart from references to the Dao (or "way" of government), but does hold that the populace fares better under a system of Fa than a Confucian system.[3]

Han Fei stipulated the use of Fa for appointment, measurement, language and reward,[4] as in the following: "An enlightened ruler employs fa to pick his men; he does not select them himself. He employs Fa to weigh their merit; he does not fathom it himself. Thus ability cannot be obscured nor failure prettified. If those who are [falsely] glorified cannot advance, and likewise those who are maligned cannot be set back, then there will be clear distinctions between lord and subject, and order will be easily [attained]. Thus the ruler can only use fa."[5]

The syncretism of Han Fei more broadly defines Shu as "to bestow offices corresponding to [people's] abilities; to hold achievement accountable to claim (xing-ming); to grasp the handles of life and death; and examine into the abilities of the thronging ministers." Han Fei criticizes Shen's philosophy as lacking laws, but insists that the ruler use his technique to recruit ministers, and conversely criticizes Shang Yang as lacking Shu.[6]

Shen was well aware of the possibility of the loss of the ruler's position, and thus state or life,[7] saying:

One who murders the ruler and takes his state," Shen says, "does not necessarily climb over difficult walls or batter in barred doors or gates. He may be one of the ruler's own ministers, gradually limiting what the ruler sees, restricting what he hears, getting control of his government and taking over his power to command, possessing the people and seizing the state."[8]

Liu Xiang attributes ten works in the Han imperial catalogue to the Fa Jia.[9] Fragments of the two Shenzi books of philosophers Shen Buhai (400–337 BC), extant as late as the early eighteenth century, and Shen Dao (350-275 BC) have been recovered, but only two texts have survived to modern day intact, namely the earliest such text, Book of Lord Shang, and the more widely read and "philosophically engaging" Han Fei Zi.[10] The most notable source for Shen Buhai is the Taiping Yulan.[11] Another six later books stopped being circulated more than a millennia ago.[12] Some of the recently translated Mawangdui Silk Texts are quite "Legalistic".[13]

Emperor Wen favored four men who had connections to the Fa-Jia: Governor Wu of Honan, made Chief Commandant of Justice. Wu was a townsman of Li Si, and studied with him. Wu recommended Jia Yi. What is Taoism 106

Li Kui (403–387) wrote the Book of Law (Fajing, 法经) in the state of Wei, which was the basis for the codified laws of the Qin and Han dynasties, in 407 BC. His political agendas, as well as the Book of Law, had a deep influence on later thinkers such as Han Fei and Shang Yang, including the institution of meritocracy, and giving the state an active role in encouraging agriculture, purchasing grain to fill its granaries in years of good harvest to ease price fluctuations. The direct result of these pioneering reform measures was the dominance of Wei in the early decades of the Warring States era. He recommended Ximen Bao, credited as China's first hydraulic engineer, and Wu Qi as a military commander when Wu Qi sought asylum in Wei.[14][15]

Widely regarded as China's first great general, the Wu-tzu text attributed to Wu Qi (440-381 BC), seriously considering "all aspects of war and battle preparation", has long been valued as one of the "basic foundations of Chinese Military thought."[16] Passages from the Huainanzi suggest that Wu Qi "tried to implement typically Legalist reforms" in Wei.[17] His "impressive administrative contributions" are often ranked with Lord Shang, who served as a household tutor four decades after Wu left.[16]

Often compared with the modern social sciences,[18] they have been regarded by the Chinese as having three tendencies, synthesized by Han Fei:[19] the enforcement of law, the manipulation of statecraft, and the exercise of power,[20]

Han Fei's essays (called the Han Feizi) are commonly thought of as the greatest of all "Legalist" texts, bringing together his predecessors ideas into a coherent ideology.[21][22] This ideology attracted the attention of the First Emperor[23] and it is believed that this school of thought laid the foundation for the Chinese bureaucratic empire[24] that would surpass that of most other national governments until near the end of the eighteenth century.[25]

Though usually dismissed in the west on account of historical evidence of Legalist text preced, the "Legalist's" ruler or Fa has historically often been considered Taoist, that is, as following the Dao, and is still often analyzed in this capacity by Chinese scholars.[28] But figures like Shen Buhai never attempt to articulate natural or ethical foundations for Fa, or provide any metaphysical grounds for appointment (xing-ming).[29]

The philosophy of Shen Buhai would be partially obscured though it is likely similar to Han Fei. However, Creel called the latter a more sophisticated version of Shang Yang for it's emphasis on rewards and punishments. Huang-Lao might be considered similiar to Shen Buhai for it's emphasis on cooperation.


Gaining the people's hearts has no place in good government,[31][32]

Shang Yang did say that "laws which are made without taking (the condition of the people) into consideration can not be implemented".[33]

Han Fei is "without even Xun Kuang's residual need for a cosmos" in which man finds a place for himself through patternizing ritual.[34]

Chen, Chao Chuan an Yueh-Ting Lee 2008 p. . Leadership and Management in China

On the basis of human selfishness the "Legalists" considered morality is hypocritical and useless. 4

Though not concerned with the legitimacy of human rights, this did have effect of affirming the legality of morality of individual self-interest. 4, 8 But it is much more amenable to collectivism. 8

Han Fei had no confidence in morality. Aiming for peace and stability, Han Fei believed in the separation of private and public interest, excercising what Chao Chuan and Yueh-Ting have called "fair and effective ways of excercising power", through laws and manipulation under the sovereignty of the emperor. Laws should be practical,enorceable and well publicized in-order to be effective. To be effective and fair, laws and regulations had to be objective and universally enforced.5, 8

Han Fei believed that rule by law is more effective in the running the state and promoting stability.8 Han Fei's Legalism did not challenge the social hierarchy of Confucianism, though it's individualism provided a philosophical foundation to do so. They designed different means of maintaining social hierarchy and order through laws, regulations, manipulation and control, not unlike Machiavelli. 10

Han Fei adopted many of his fundamental concepts of fa (law) from the Book of Lord Shang.111 Shang Yang emphasized strict control through harsh laws, encouraging agriculture and aggresive warfare, enriching the state within a short period of time. His lack of attention to the shu (ministerial manipulation) of Shen Buhai ultimately brought power to ministers at the expense of the state. Han Fei therefore advocated the necessity both Fa and Shu. 111-112 Legal contradictions (shen buhai) 112

Han Fei's theory of leadership is based on self-interest.113

114, 116

Fa (law) should be initiated by the ruler, but he should not establish it at his own will. Rather, he should work to realize the Dao in constructing rules, studying the operation of the state - which is based on fa (law) - carefully. 116 Rules should be constituted on the basis of ekuity, and therefore not engender complaint. To enable smooth interaction with suborinates and enable long-term profits, the ruler never expresses "malicious anger".117 Because Fa (law) is the standard of the state, it should be publicized and known to everyone, used as teaching materials by the officials.117

Law must be objective and equitable. Intellectuals enjoy no special privileges. It's main purpose is to eliminate private interest.117 If the ruler is unable to insist on the equitability of the law, intellectuals may propose biased arguments, the wise may strive for personal gain, superiors may do favors, inferiors may be dominated by selfish pursuits, and intellectuals may form cliques to incite ruors and incidents, reducing the whole organization to crisis and struggle between cliques and factions.117-118.

Laws should be simple, feasible and enforceable so that they can be carried out universally. Complicated doctrines should not be used, because they cannot be easily understood by ordinary people.15

Emperor Hsuan. Ch'ao Ts'o admonished Emperor Ching, saying "the feudal lords are the gaurdrails and props of the emperor. That subjects are to the ruler assons to the ather has been the rule rom antuity to the present. but now thge great states monopolize power and establish seperate government, not looking to the capital for orders." He was perhaps the chief author of the plan whereby the han eudal states were eventually destroyed. [35] Dubs Han-shu I 292-297

Tung-Sun Hung and EMperor wu, Conucius, the man and the myth 234-242, 254-263. kung-sun tzu

Jixia Academy's Shen Dao (350 – c. 275 BC) emphasized that the head of state was endowed with shi, the "mystery of authority", commanding the respect and obedience of the people. The emperor's very figure brought legitimacy. In the philosophy of Shen Dao and other such philosophers, the establishment of order and the sovereign's restraining hold on the state generates the stability necessary for any rule at all. Shen Dao advised the ruler to monopolize authority in-order to prevent its abuse by feudal magnates and ministers.[36] Shen Dao enjoined the ruler to make no judgements,[37] instead relying on protocol to reward or penalize ministers according to their performance.[38]

Shang Yang's economy was grain-based rather than money-based. Official recognition was given in the production of food and military service. The new elite was based neither on heredity nor wealth. Mutual spying and denunciation were required by law, and rewarded.(five and ten).[39]

When Li Si gained audience with the young king he told him that "The small man is one who throws away his opportunities, whereas great deeds are accomplished through utilizing the mistakes [of others], and inflexibly following them up."[40]

Accepting Shang Yang's earlier emphasis on the standardization of weights and measures, Qin Shi Huang would also accept Shang Yang's philosophy that no individual in the state should be above the law (by ensuring harsh punishments for all cases of dissent) and that families should be divided into smaller households. While there is reason to doubt Sima Qian's claim that Qin Shi Huang did in fact divide households into groups of ten, certainly the other examples of standardization and administrative organization undertaken by the First Emperor reflect the importance of philosopher's thought in Qin law. Reflecting the philosopher's passion for order and structure, Qin soldiers were only mobilized when both halves of tiger-shaped tallies (one held by the ruler and the other by the commanding general) were brought together. Likewise, all documents in the empire had to have recorded the year they were written, the scribe who copied them, and up to the exact hour of delivery.

By Han Fei's standards a good leader must not only accept the advice of loyal ministers when shown to be in error, but also extend courtesy to those beneath him or her and not be too avaricious. Stressing that ministers and other officials too often sought favours from foreign powers by abusing their positions, he urged rulers to control these individuals using the two handles of punishment and favour through Fa (methods, standards), preventing ministers and other officials from performing some other official's duties and punishing them if they attempted to blind the ruler with words or failed to warn them.(citation needed)

To aid his patron in preventing misgovernance, formalized the concept of shu, the bureaucratic model of administration. Shen Buhai argued that the ruler's most important asset was an intelligent minister. He advised that rulers should keep a low profile, hide their true intentions and feign nonchalance, limiting themselves to judging ministers’ performances. It was the minister's duty to understand specific affairs, which the ruler did not involve himself in. Theoretically, by cloaking both his desires and his will, the Emperors checked sycophancy and forced his subject to heed his dictates. Interestingly, according to the Han's Grand Historian Sima Qian (c. 145–86 BC), while the First Qin Emperor hid himself from the rest of the world (perhaps due to a desire to attain immortality) and thus maintained a low profile, he did not necessarily follow all of the philosopher's advice on the role of the ruler. Han Fei blamed him for concentrating all his attention on administrative technique, neglecting law.

"Huang-Lao thought", centering around the Jixia Academy is considered to have early emerged as part of an effort to develop solutions for the restoration of the feudal order. The Taoistic side of this later included texts like the Huainanzi, emerging as the ideological backdrop to the early Han Dynasty feudal court.

One early "Huang-Lao" text coming out of the Jixia academy, the Guanzi, whose traditional author was said to be Guan Zhong, was actually a compilation mostly of Jixia scholars. A number of its chapters chapters express what has been termed a blend of Legalist, Confucianistic, and Daoistc philosophy that may be considered "Huang-Lao".[41] Taoism was thought by earlier scholars to have a considerable influence on Legalism. Creel later considered this view mistaken; there is no evidence that Taoism existed so early, for instance, as Shen Buhai, who makes considerable use of the term Tao, but not in the Taoist manner.[42][43] Confucians also make use of the term Tao.

The ruler should fully utilize the repertoire of methods and techniques aimed at enhancing his power and at reining in his underlings. The ruler should be “enlightened/clear-sighted” (ming明)enough to avoid being duped by the members of his entourage and to determine real worth of his aides.

He should check his ministers’ reports, investigate their performance, and make it clear that only those who properly fulfill their tasks will be rewarded and promoted. Han Fei explains: A sovereign who wants to suppress treachery must investigate jointly the form and the name, the difference between the words and the task. The minister exposes his words; the ruler assigns him a task in accordance with his words, and determines [the minister’s] merit only according to his performance. When the merit matches the task, and the performance matches the words, [the minister] is rewarded; when the merit does not match the task and the performance does not match the words, he is punished. … Thus, when the enlightened ruler nourishes his ministers, the minister should not claim merit by overstepping [the task de fi nitions of] his of fi ce, nor should he present his words which do not match [his performance]. One who oversteps his of fi ce is executed; one who[se words] do not match [his performance] is punished;10 then ministers are unable to form cabals and cliques (Chen Qiyou 2000: 2.7.127)[44]

The term Fa Jia would be introduced Chinese historiographer Sima Tan (c. 165 BC – 110 BCE) in his essay, "The Essential Implications of the Six Houses of Thought" (The other five schools being Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism, the School of Names, and the School of Naturalists).

In his History of Chinese Philosophy, Feng Youlan divided the Legalists into three groups, one laying stress on the concept of shi (circumstantial advantage, power, or authority) as espoused by Shen Dao; the second on fa 法 (law, regulation or, standard) of Shang Yang; and the third on the shu 術 (methods or strategy) of Shen Buhai.[45][46]

  • 'Shi' (, p 'shì', lit."situational advantage"): It is the position of the ruler, not the ruler himself or herself, that holds the power. Therefore, analysis of the trends, the context, and the facts are essential for a real ruler.
  • 'Fa' (Chinese, p 'fǎ', lit. "method" or "standard"): The law code must be clearly written and made public. All people under the ruler were equal before the law. Laws should reward those who obey them and punish accordingly those who dare to break them. Thus it is guaranteed that actions taken are systematically predictable. In addition, the system of law, not the ruler, ran the state, a statement of rule of law. If the law is successfully enforced, even a weak ruler will be strong.
  • 'Shu' (, p 'shù', lit. "technique" or "procedure"): Special tactics and 'secrets' are to be employed by the ruler to make sure others do not take over control of the state. Especially important is that no one can fathom the ruler's motivations, and thus no one can know which behavior might help them get ahead, other than following the laws.

Shen Buhai did not actually use the term Shu, he used Fa; Shu may have been invented to contrast Shen's doctrine with that of Shang Yang.[47] Creel comments that Sima Tan, inventor of the term Fa-Jia, was "clearly aware that the school (and Fa itself) had two emphases", both "law" and "method".[48]

Comments and contributions from other users[edit]

Legalism vs. fascism vs. communism[edit]

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

They are alike in regards the expansion of the state, whose administration (albeit with a certain emphasis toward minimalism in the form devolvement toward family, village and local magnate) 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, though I wouldn't say China was rights-poor. 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, and generally lasted longer. The Chinese like their unified periods. FourLights (talk) 23:10, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

1. The Fascist idea as applied in Italy consists in the incorporation of corporations into the high state, albiet unsuccessfully since the capitalists are disinterested in this and prefer the state be a separate entity at their command (Italian corporations eventually boycotted the Fascist state).

Legalism isn't anti-business, as emphasized by the granting of audience and office to successful business persons (more feudal states did not entertain merchants), but the state is run at the top by the high administration. Chinese dynasties would have state monopolies run by business persons as attempts at economic management or taxation, though the usefulness of the attempt by this method is variable.

Regarding plutocracy, it's implied that one trades the option of the larger monetary sums offered for the higher offices, as one and the other are seperate rewards. Following Han Fei philosophy, a merchant, or anyone found to be beneficial for that matter, might be able to take reigns as a state function, but the functions of the office and the person must be clearly defined and it is recommended that they be particular. The state's entertaining of the merchants was a profound innovation for the aristocratic, warring era.

2. Bolshevism emphasized central planning. Obviously the Qin became very centralized, but Shang Yang Legalism doesn't consider the predominance of the private sphere a threat at lower levels, giving land to those who make the most successful use of land. Han Fei recommends the product be stored in public granaries, something that seems to have been carried out. Regarding Communist concepts, in some ways Legalist practice actually "fades away" the state (i.e. the bureaucracy) more successfully than Bolshevism, in the sense of passing responsibility for implementing law onto the family and village. Though historically the Chinese state was pervasive, it was also defined by this decentralization/minamlism, less legalism post-Qin. FourLights (talk) 01:01, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Fa 法, shu 術, and shi 勢[edit]

These keep being translated incorrectly in this article. In the present version, someone says that they "literally" mean "law, method, and legitimacy," respectively. All three of those are wrong. Fa literally means "method" or "standard"; shu literally means "technique" or "procedure"; and shi literally means "situational advantage," i.e. the advantage that one enjoys as a result of one's position, whether on a battlefield or in society. All three have very different "literal" meanings from their common usage in Modern Mandarin. Indicating definitions of such terms without any references, especially when they're as inaccurate as this, is highly misleading to readers who don't know better.-- (talk) 04:20, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

In corroboration with my understanding I agree with the definitions as given here by anonymous user and have changed the page. Fa preceded law and thus has a broader meaning, as discussed in sources on the page. Shi has broader implications than situation advantage, but is used this way by the philosophers Shang Yang and Shen Dao. I've given a couple sources discussing Shen Buhai.FourLights (talk) 05:37, 13 November 2015 (UTC)

Too many citations[edit]

The summary paragraph at the beginning has way too many citations to read comfortably (per WP:OVERSITE). It'll probably take a while to fix this; just thought I'd point this out. Llightex (talk) 13:01, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

I've truncated a few but I'll have to dig through bot truncated sources to more fully merge them. Let me know if you have any additional citational criticism or other.FourLights (talk) 22:06, 18 September 2016 (UTC)

dig deeper[edit]

The note about being "incorrectly translated" with its accompanying ref is disjointed and distracting and should be brought up later in the article. The phrase "usually translated..." gives the readers a hint that there may be something more about the translation. The intro shouldn't read like a debate. Dig Deeper (talk) 06:51, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

I'm not sure why these refs appeared. Please disregard stuff below.Dig Deeper (talk) 06:54, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

Thanks, let me know if you have any other recommendations.FourLights (talk) 10:13, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

Making general grammar and flow edits[edit]

I'm going to go through the article and make some changes in grammar and flow. I know nothing about this particular topic except what is here in the text, so if I change the meaning, don't hesitate to change parts of it back. I hope this proof reading is helpful. Dig Deeper (talk) 21:33, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

Fixed up the lead. The lead should not be too detailed or technical, but provide an easy to understand summary of the article.Dig Deeper (talk) 22:01, 3 December 2016 (UTC)

The narrative is a little hard to follow. A chronological approach might be best. Not sure the intro is required at all. The article needs to be simplified so that a person such as myself, who knows nothing about this subject can quickly learn. See WP:TECHNICAL. As I struggle through it it seems that this Han Fei and his writing are quite important, though this was not apparent at first reading. I think it is a bit better. The intro and rest need some simplifying.Dig Deeper (talk) 02:48, 4 December 2016 (UTC)

I agree with your recommendations and will try and reorganize the article chronologically, and move material from the introduction. I can only go so far using my own viewpoint, to make it more readable for the lay person, so your contributions and commentary are appreciated. Maybe some of the material in the introduction should just be a footnote at the end.FourLights (talk) 15:48, 4 December 2016 (UTC)

I'm glad my comments and edits were helpful. It's very important not to stray too far from the main topic of the article. Too much information (also called data hoarding can bring confusion. Footnotes are a good place to put extra detail you don't want to delete, that's a good idea. You can also move the detail to another page (for example the page on Han Fei or Han Feizi) or perhaps save it for a future page creation.Dig Deeper (talk) 15:55, 5 December 2016 (UTC)

Any link between legalism and corruption? Comment[edit]

Reflecting on legalism, with its amoral and "get the job done" philosophy, I couldn't help but wonder if corruption and bribery etc were a result of this. If so perhaps it should be mentioned.Dig Deeper (talk) 04:56, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

I can only mention things that I have sources for. I can make some comments on the issue. One, as I mentioned in the article, Legalism restricts the freedoms of ministers, while Confucianism deregulates. Two, for much of Chinese history, for instance under the Ching, administration was less formal.

Legalism formalizes administration. which is generally a good thing. If you read the xing-min related material, the Shu aspect of Legalism focuses on legal contracts. It is sometimes seen as a solution these days for this very reason, as I have articulated a little in the modern section.FourLights (talk) 16:41, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Object preceding subject[edit]

Having the object precede the subject is OK occasionally, but doing it constantly is distracting and confusing to the reader. For example...

Grouping thinkers crucial to laying the "intellectual and ideological foundations of the traditional Chinese bureaucratic empire",[4] it emphasizes political reform through fixed and transparent rules and a realistic consolidation of the wealth and power of the state, with the goal of achieving increased order and stability. Largely ignoring morality or questions on how a society ideally should function, it examines the present state of the government.[5]

That there is any evidence at all in the ancient world for a field of management is notable.[6] Including possibly the first, if not highly centralized bureaucratic state, and earliest (by the second century BC) example of an administrative meritocracy based on civil service examinations,[7] it may well be said to have originated in ancient China.


Legalism groups together society's thinkers, believed to be crucial for laying the "intellectual and ideological foundations of the traditional Chinese bureaucratic empire". It emphasizes political reform through fixed and transparent rules and a realistic consolidation of the wealth and power of the state, with the goal of achieving increased order and stability. Legalism also examines the present state of the government, while largely ignoring morality or questions on how a society ideally should function.

A copy edit request (tag) may be wise after your editing is complete.Dig Deeper (talk) 02:45, 13 December 2016 (UTC)

I'll have a look tomorrow.FourLights (talk) 05:14, 13 December 2016 (UTC)

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