Xun Zu (Hsün Tzü): A Confucian scholar who adopted the Legalist tenet that
humans by nature are evil. He was authoritarian to an extent similar to the Legalists. He
was the teacher of Han Fei Tzü.
Mo Tzu (nee Mo Ti): The founder of the Mohist tradition of political administration. Although
Mo Tzu held that humans are, by nature, good, he espoused certain doctrines that were
compatible with the Legalists' beliefs. For examply, Mo Tzu held that people should accept
the precepts of their superiors in the social hierarchy, and that people should report to
their superiors any wrong doing by others in their social group.
Kuan Chung: An administrator of the seventh century B.C. (600-700 BCE) who has been
identified by some scholars as the earliest Legalist. He emphasized the importance of
administrative techniques but otherwise could be considered more of a Confucian although
he predates Confucius.
Shén Pu-hai: A successful adminstrator in the Han Kingdom from 337 BCE until
his death in 322 BCE. He emphasized the importance of administrative technique for
maintaining an orderly, prosperous state.
Shen Tao: A fourth century BCE Taoist from the Kingdom of Chao. He held some sort of
official status in the Kingdom of Ch'i but perhaps was not an administrator per se.
He was a Legalist to the extent that he emphasized the Legalist tenet of the importance of
power and position in ruling a state properly.
Shang Yang (a.k.a Wei Yang and Kung-Sun Yang): The highest level administrator in the
Kingdom of Qin in the fourth century BCE. Originally Shang Yang had been a high level
administator in the Kingdom of Wei, but he sought and gained appointment to office in Qin.
He purposed a major social reorganization of Qin in which the people of Qin were organized
into groups that were collectively responsible for the actions of all of their number.
Under Shang Yang's social reorganization extended families were broken up. Members of
the aristocracy who had military skills and prowess were rewarded with honorific titles.
Everyone else was to work at either farming or weaving. Anyone attempting to pursue an
occupation other than farming or weaving was to be enslaved.
The rights and even accouterments for each social class were carefully spelled out in
Shang Yang's reorganization.
The effect of Shang Yang's reorganization was to destroy the feudalist division of Qin
and make it into a militarily strong state.
Shang Yang died in 338 BCE when a new prince whom Shang Yang had offended rose to power.
Master K'ung, K'ung fu-tzü (Confucius)
Han Fei Tzü: A Legalist of the Han Kingdom who was, along with Li Ssu, a student
of Hsün Tzü. He was born and raised in the Kingdom of Han. He tried unsuccessfully
to persuade the Han rulers to change their administrative system in order to strengthen Han.
When he could not convince the Han rulers to change their administrative system he put his
ideas into two essays. These essays were ignored in Han but they were taken note of in Qin.
When Han Fei Tzü was sent as an envoy of the Han government to Qin, the Qin ruler
a place in his government. Han Fei Tzü accepted the offer.
Unfortunately for Han Fei Tzü another advisor of the Qin ruler was Li Ssu, who had
been a fellow student with Han Fei Tzü with Hsün Tzü and knew well
Han Fei Tzü's abilities. Li Ssu was afraid Han Fei Tzü would replace him so
he arranged to have Han Fei Tzü imprisoned and then forced him to commit suicide.
Han Fei Tzü's writings survived him and he had an influence long after his death.
Han Fei Tzü criticized the Confucians and was particularly influential in
promoting the notion that scholars are useless. Time spent in pursuing knowledge was time
taken away from the useful pursuit of growing food.
According to Han Fei Tzü
In a state of an intelligent ruler there are no books, instead the laws serve as lessons.
The general principles that Han Fei Tzü promoted were:
- Political institutions must change with the times.
- Human behavior is determined by economic conditions rather than morality
- A ruler should waste time trying to make his subjects good but only restrain them
from doing evil.
- People do not know what is best for them anymore than babies do.
- Possession of authority, shih demands unquestioning obedience
- Political loyalty takes precedence over filial duty
- Authority should be exercised through law (fa). A ruler can abrogate a
law but that law which is abrogated should then be abandoned. If a law stands it should
be adhered to even by the ruler.
- Appointments to office should be made according to rules and law rather than
arbitrarily. Merit should be evaluated according to rules rather than by personal
judgments. A ruler should demand satisfactory performance and compliance with directives by the ruler.
- A ruler should trust no one, be suspicious of sycophants, and search out plots to
usurp his power. No subordinate should be allowed to accumulate undue power.
- Statecraft (shu) is of prime importance in ruling a polity.
- In interstate relations military power is of prime importance.
- Farming and weaving are the only productive activities. Scholars are especially to
be discouraged from wasting their time.
- Giving help to the destitute is both unwise and unfair because it takes from the industrious
and frugal and rewards the lazy and prodigal.