Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy Part 32

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Thus, the Premier of Chu executed a man and wicked deeds were not reported to the authorities in the state of Chu; Kongzi rewarded a man and the people of Lu readily surrendered and ran away. If the interests of superior and inferior are as different as this, and a ruler of men seeks to enjoy the blessings of his altars of soil and millet, while at the same time praising the conduct of private individuals, then surely he will not succeed.

In ancient times when Cang Jie38 invented writing, he called that which revolved around the self "private" and that which was opposed to the private "public." So the fact that "public" and "private" are mutually opposing ideas was already understood by Cang Jie.39 Now, believing that public and private interests are the same is the kind of disaster that comes from not being discerning. This being the case, when planning for the good of individuals, nothing is better than to cultivate benevolence and righteousness and practice the arts of culture. If you cultivate benevolence and righteousness you will be trusted, and when you are trusted you will receive employment in the government. If you practice the arts of culture you will become a brilliant teacher, and when you are a brilliant teacher you will become eminent and honored. This is good for the individual. But if this should actually happen, people without merit would receive employment in the government and people without n.o.ble t.i.tles would become eminent and honored. When government is conducted like this, the state is sure to fall into disorder, and the ruler is sure to be in danger. Thus, two incompatible situations cannot stand together. . . .

What the world calls "worthy" is conduct that is virtuous and honest; what the world calls "wise" is language that is subtle and mysterious. Language that is subtle and mysterious is something that even the wisest people find difficult to understand. So if when making laws for the ma.s.ses, you use language that even the wisest people find difficult to understand, then no one will comprehend or follow your laws. Hence, if one does not have enough dregs and husks to fill one's belly, one should not strive for fine grain and meat; if one is dressed in a short and tattered robe made out of coa.r.s.e cloth, one should not hold out for fine st.i.tching and embroidery. The same applies to the business of governing the world: if the critical affairs have not been taken care of, one should not work on the noncritical ones. Now, what government seeks to order is the affairs of the common people. So if you do not use what every man and woman knows clearly, and instead delight in the theories of the wisest men, this is ant.i.thetical to good order. Therefore, language that is subtle and mysterious is not the work of the people.

If people regard conduct that is virtuous and honest as worthy, it must be because they value officers who will not deceive them. But those who value officers who will not deceive them also have no methods to keep themselves from being deceived. When the common people a.s.sociate with one another, they have no wealth or resources that they can use to benefit each other, and no might or position of power that they can use to frighten each other. Therefore, they seek officers who will not deceive them. But the ruler of men occupies a position of power that allows him to control men. He has the resources of an entire state at his disposal, so he can hand out lavish rewards and inflict harsh punishments. If a ruler can manipulate his two handles and use them to refine that which the methods of clarification reveal,40 then even if he has ministers like Tian Chang and Zi Han,41 they will not dare to be deceptive. What need is there for him to wait for the kind of officers who would not deceive him?

Now, there are no more than ten officers in the whole world who are virtuous and honest, and yet the offices within the borders of a single state number in the hundreds. So if one insists on employing only officers who are virtuous and honest, there will not be enough men to fill the offices of the state. And if there are not enough men to fill the offices of the state, those promoting order will be few while those promoting disorder will be numerous. Therefore, the Way of an enlightened ruler is to unify the laws and not seek after wisdom, to establish the proper methods and not yearn for honesty. In this way, the law will not be defeated and the offices will all be free of corruption and treachery.

These days when rulers of men listen to people's words, they are pleased by their eloquence and do not require them to match their words with actions. When they evaluate people's conduct, they praise the reputation the person has gained through those actions and do not hold them accountable for the results. For this reason, when the people of the world speak or discuss they strive to be eloquent and ignore the question of usefulness. As a result the courts of rulers are filled with people praising the former kings and talking about benevolence and righteousness, and so the government cannot avoid falling into disorder. Similarly, in their personal conduct, the people compete with one another to appear lofty and do not try to produce achievements; the wise officers go into retreat, living in grottoes and caves and refusing to accept a government salary or stipend, and so the army cannot avoid growing weak. Why is it that the army cannot avoid growing weak and the government cannot avoid falling into disorder? It is because that which the people praise and their superiors honor are the methods of a disordered country.

These days, everyone in the state talks about the problem of governing, and people keep copies of the laws of Shang Yang and Guan Zhong in their houses. Nevertheless, the state grows poorer and poorer because those who talk about farming outnumber those who actually work a plow. Everyone in the state talks about how to run an army, and people keep copies of the writings of Sun Wu and Wu Qi in their houses.42 Nevertheless, the army gets weaker and weaker because those who talk about war outnumber those who actually put on armor. Therefore, an enlightened ruler uses the people's strength and does not listen to their words; he rewards their achievements and completely prohibits useless activities. As a result, the people exhaust every ounce of their strength in obedience to their superiors.

The effort required to do farming is exhausting, but people will still do it because they say, "This way I can become rich." Going to war is a dangerous affair, but people will still do it because they say, "This way I can become enn.o.bled." Now if by cultivating the arts of culture and practicing speaking and discussing, one can enjoy the fruits of wealth without the labor of farming, and have the respect of n.o.bility without the danger of battle, what person would not do these things? Because of this, for every one person who uses their strength in farming or warfare there are a hundred who work at being wise. But when many work at being wise, the law is defeated; when few use their strength, the state grows poor. This is why the world is in disorder.

Therefore, in the state of an enlightened ruler there are no texts written on bamboo strips, the law provides the only education; there are no words of learned masters, the civil officers are the only teachers; there are no attacks by private swordsmen, taking heads in battle is the only way to display one's courage. The people of this state, their speeches and discussions are always in accord with the law; their actions and innovations are turned back to accomplishment; and their displays of courage are conducted entirely within the ranks of the army. For this reason, in times of peace the state is rich, and in times of trouble the army is strong. These are what are called the "resources of a king." Having ama.s.sed the resources of a king, the ruler can then take advantage of the divisions within enemy states and attack them. That which will allow a ruler to surpa.s.s the Five Emperors and rival the Three Kings is surely this model.43 Now, however, this is not the case. The officers and people do as they please within the state, while the orators enjoy positions of power outside it. To try to deal with a strong enemy when those outside the state and those inside the state are both up to no good, is this not dangerous! Thus, when the ministers discuss foreign affairs, they are either split between vertical and horizontal alliances,44 or else they are intent on borrowing the strength of the state in order to avenge themselves against some personal enemy. The advocates of the vertical alliance argue that the various weaker states should join together to attack the one strong state (i.e., Qin), while the advocates of the horizontal alliance argue that it is better to serve the one strong state and attack the various weaker ones. But neither of these is the way to preserve one's state.

Now those ministers who advocate a horizontal alliance all say, "If we do not serve the great state then when we are attacked by our enemies we will suffer misfortune." When you serve a great state you cannot be sure of good results, and yet you still must present maps of your territory like a deputy nation, and hand over your official seals when requesting troops. But if you present maps of your territory, your lands will be cut away, and if you hand over your offical seals your name will be degraded. When your lands are cut away, your state will be diminished, and when your name is degraded, your government will fall into disorder. Serving a great state and joining the horizontal alliance will never produce any benefits, but you will lose your lands and your government will fall into disorder.

Those ministers who advocate the vertical alliance all say, "If we do not try to rescue the smaller states and attack the great one then the rest of the world will be lost, and if the rest of the world is lost then our own state will be in danger and our own ruler will be degraded." When you try to rescue the smaller states you cannot be sure of good results, but you still must raise troops and oppose the great one. When you try to rescue the smaller states there is no guarantee that you will be able to preserve them, and you cannot be sure that there will not be division among the states attacking the great one. And if there is division, you will be at the mercy of the strong state. If you send out troops they will be defeated, and if you withdraw to protect your own lands your cities will be taken. Trying to rescue the smaller states and joining the vertical alliance will never produce any benefits, but your lands will be lost and your armies will be defeated.

Thus, if you choose to serve a strong state, the agents of a foreign power will take over the offices inside your realm; and if you try to rescue the smaller states, the influential ministers within your own land will use their position to gain benefits from abroad. Long before any benefits to the state have been realized, fiefdoms and lavish stipends will have already come to the ministers. So even if their ruler and superior is degraded, the ministers will still be respected, and even if the territory of the state is diminished, their private households will still be enriched. If their plan succeeds, they can use the authority this gives them to extend their influence. If their plan fails, they can still take the riches they have gained and retire in comfort. But if the rulers of men, when listening to counsel, honor their ministers with t.i.tles and stipends before their plans have even succeeded, and do not punish their ministers even when their plans have failed, then who among the wandering persuaders would not hazard putting forward some profit-seeking proposal in the hopes of benefiting from it afterward? So why is it that rulers continue to destroy their states and ruin themselves by listening to the groundless advice of these orators? It is because the rulers of men do not understand the difference between public and private benefit, do not distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate words, and do not ensure that punishments and penalties are imposed after a plan does not succeed.

Rulers all say, "If I attend to foreign affairs, then at best I may become a king, and at worst I can keep myself secure." To be king is to be able to attack others; to be secure is to be invulnerable to attack. When one's state is strong, one can attack others; when one's state is well ordered, one cannot be attacked. But strength and good order cannot be brought about by anything outside the state, they belong to the realm of internal government. Now if a ruler does not implement the proper laws and methods within the state, and instead depends on employing wisdom outside the state, his state will never become strong or well ordered. . . .

The natural aspirations of the people are such that they all move toward security and benefit and avoid danger and poverty. Now when the ruler launches an attack against another state, the people know that if they advance they will be killed by the enemy, and if they retreat they will die by execution, so either way it is dangerous. When they are forced to put aside the work of their own households and labor like sweating horses in the armies of their ruler, they know that their families will face hardship and their superiors will not compensate them, so they are sure to become poor. These situations of poverty and danger, how can one expect the people not to avoid them? Therefore, the people hasten to serve within the private gates of powerful ministers and get themselves exempted from all military service,45 because by getting themselves exempted from all military service they can distance themselves from battle, and if they distance themselves from battle they will be safe. They offer gifts and bribes and use those "on the road" to power to get what they need, because if they get what they need they will be personally secure, and when they are personally secure they will enjoy benefits. These situations of security and benefit, how can one expect the people not to move toward them? For this reason, public-spirited people are few while private-minded individuals are numerous.

The method of governing used by an enlightened ruler to bring order to his state is to keep the number of merchants, craftsmen, and wandering tradesmen low and their status humble. In this way he promotes the primary occupations, and discourages the auxillary ones. In the current age, however, the requests of those dear to the ruler are granted, so offices and t.i.tles can be bought, and when offices and t.i.tles can be bought, the status of merchants and artisans will not remain humble. When ill-gotten wealth and peddlers gain circulation in the marketplace, the number of merchants will not remain low. When those who collect taxes and exploit the farmers are more respected than officers who till their own land and go off to battle, then righteous and upright officers will be few while merchants and peddlers will be numerous.

Thus, these are the customs of a disordered state: its scholars use the pretexts of benevolence and righteousness to praise the Way of the former kings. They put on a grand appearance and speak in elegant phrases in order to cast doubt upon the laws of the current age and create division in the hearts of the rulers of men. Its orators concoct fabrications and make false claims, borrowing the strength of foreign powers in order to achieve their private aims, while neglecting what would benefit the altars of soil and millet. Its swordsmen gather bands of followers, establishing their own standards of deportment and conduct in order to make a name for themselves and violate the prohibitions of the five offices. Those who worry about being driven into battle gather within the private gates of powerful ministers, offering gifts and bribes and using the recommendations of influential people to get themselves exempted from the labor of military service. Its merchants and craftsmen deal in crude and inferior products, acc.u.mulating undeserved wealth by h.o.a.rding goods until the best time to sell and looking to make a profit from the farmers. These five groups of people are the vermin of the state. If the rulers of men do not get rid of these five vermin and nurture just and upright officers, then even if the states of the land within the four seas are broken and perish and their ruling houses are eaten away and destroyed, it should come as no surprise.

Chapter Fifty: On the Prominent Schools of Thought.

The prominent schools of the age are Confucianism and Mohism. The greatest of the Confucians was Kong Qiu [i.e., Kongzi], and the greatest of the Mohists was Mo Di [i.e., Mozi]. Since the death of Kongzi, there has been the Zi Zhang school of Confucianism, the Zi Si school of Confucianism, the Yan family school of Confucianism, the Meng family school of Confucianism, the Qidiao family school of Confucianism, the Zhongliang family school of Confucianism, the Sun family school of Confucianism, and the Yuezheng family school of Confucianism. Since the death of Mozi, there has been the Xiangli family school of Mohism, the Xiangfu family school of Mohism, and the Dengling family school of Mohism. Thus, after Kongzi and Mozi, the Confucians split into eight factions and the Mohists split into three.46 The doctrines and practices that each of these factions accept and reject are divergent and conflicting, and yet each faction claims that they are the true representatives of the Way of Kongzi or Mozi. Kongzi and Mozi cannot come back to life, so who will determine which of the current schools are the right ones?

Kongzi and Mozi both followed the Way of Yao and Shun and both claimed that they were the true transmitters of the Way of these sages, and yet the doctrines and practices that each of them accepted and rejected are not the same. Yao and Shun cannot come back to life, so who will determine whether the Confucians or the Mohists are correct? The traditions of the Yin and Zhou dynasties go back more than seven hundred years, and the traditions of the Yu47 and Xia dynasties go back more than two thousand years before that. Yet none of these can determine if the Confucians or the Mohists are right. Now then, if someone wants to examine the Way of Yao and Shun that existed more than three thousand years in the past, how can they possibly be certain about their ideas! Someone who is sure about something without supporting evidence is a fool. Someone who bases their views on something they cannot be sure about is a charlatan. Thus, those who depend on the teachings of the former kings and are absolutely sure about the Way of Yao and Shun are either fools or charlatans. The teachings of fools and charlatans and codes of conduct that are inconsistent and contradictory-these are things an enlightened ruler will not accept.

When partic.i.p.ating in funeral rites, the Mohists wear winter clothes if it is winter and summer clothes if it is summer. Their inner and outer coffins each measure only three inches thick, and they only wear their mourning garments for three months. The rulers of the age consider this to be frugal and honor them. The Confucians, on the other hand, will bankrupt their entire household in order to provide a lavish funeral. They wear their mourning garments for three years, and so destroy themselves with mourning practices that they are forced to walk with a cane. The rulers of the age consider this to be filial and honor them. But if one applauds Mozi for his frugality, one should condemn Kongzi for his wastefulness, and if one applauds Kongzi for his filial piety, one should condemn Mozi for his irreverence. Filial piety and irreverence, frugality and wastefulness-these are all features of the teachings of the Confucians and the Mohists, and yet their superiors honor them both equally.

According to the code of conduct taught by Qidiao,48 a person should never cringe before an angry expression or run away from a challenging stare. If someone's conduct is crooked, they should be disobeyed even by a common slave; if someone's conduct is upright, they should be willing to show their anger even to one of the feudal rulers. The rulers of the age consider this to be steadfast and honor him. According to the code of conduct taught by Songzi, a person should always speak out in opposition to fighting and conflict, and never take part in revenge against an enemy. They should never resent being captured or imprisoned, and never consider it disgraceful to have been insulted. The rulers of the age consider this to be tolerant and honor him. But if one applauds Qidiao for being steadfast, one should condemn Songzi for being too forgiving, and if one applauds Songzi for being tolerant, one should condemn Qidiao for being too violent. Now being tolerant and being steadfast, being too forgiving and being too violent-these are all features of the codes of conduct taught by these two gentlemen, and yet rulers listen equally to both of them.

These are the teachings of fools and charlatans and debates between confused and contradictory doctrines, and yet the rulers of men listen to them all. As a result, the officers of the land within the four seas use no fixed method in their speech, and follow no uniform standard of behavior in their conduct. Hot coals and ice cannot coexist for long in the same vessel; cold and hot weather cannot arrive at the same time. Similarly, one cannot allow two inconsistent and contradictory teachings to both stand and expect there to be order. Now if you pay equal attention to inconsistent teachings, and try to harmoniously carry out principles that are in disagreement with each other, how can there be anything but disorder? If a ruler's way of listening and acting are as disorderly as this, his government of his people will surely be the same.

When the educated officers of the day talk about governing, they often say, "One should give land to the poor and dest.i.tute in order to provide for their lack of resources." Now if there are some people who, having the same opportunities as everyone else, are able to keep themselves fully supplied even without the benefits of a good harvest or some additional source of income, it is either because they are industrious or because they are frugal. If there are some other people who, having the same opportunities as everyone else, still fall into poverty and dest.i.tution even without the misfortunes of famine, sickness, and natural disasters, it is either because they are wasteful or because they are lazy. Those who are wasteful and lazy become poor, while those who are industrious and frugal become wealthy. Now if a superior imposes taxes on the rich in order to redistribute their wealth among the families of the poor, this is stealing from the industrious and frugal and giving to the wasteful and lazy. If a ruler does this and then expects his people to be industrious in their work and frugal in their expenditures, he is going to be disappointed. . . .

Tantai Ziyu49 had the appearance of a gentleman, so Kongzi became acquainted with him and took him on as his disciple. But after he had lived with him for some time, he found that his conduct did not measure up to his looks. Zai Yu's50 speech was elegant and cultured, so Kongzi became acquainted with him and took him on as his disciple. But after he had lived with him for some time, he found that his wisdom did not measure up to his eloquence. Therefore, Kongzi said, "Should one select men on the basis of their appearance? I made that mistake with Tantai Ziyu. Should one select men on the basis of their words? I made that mistake with Zai Yu." Thus, even with the wisdom of Kongzi it is still possible to mistake the facts about people. Now the eloquence of these new orators today is far more excessive than that of Zai Yu, and the rulers of the age are far more muddled in their hearing than was Kongzi. So if the rulers of today choose to employ people based solely on the fact that they are pleased by how they speak, how could they possibly not make any mistakes? Thus, the state of Wei employed Mang Mao because of his eloquence and met with misfortune south of Mount Hua,51 and the state of Zhao employed the Lord of Mafu because of his eloquence and met with disaster at Chang Ping.52 These two are both examples of what a mistake it can be to employ people based solely on their eloquence.

Even the great blacksmith Ou53 could not determine the quality of a sword simply by looking at the quant.i.ty of tin used in forging it or examining the amount of green and yellow coloring. But if one uses the sword to strike down swans and geese in the water and cut the heads off young colts and horses on the land, even a common slave would have no doubts about its sharpness. Even the great horse trainer Bo Le54 could not determine the quality of a horse simply by inspecting its teeth and breath or scrutinizing its shape and appearance, but if one hitches it to a chariot and drives it forward to see how fast it covers a length of road, even a common slave would have no doubts about whether the horse is good or bad. Even Kongzi could not determine the quality of an officer simply by looking at his features and dress or listening to his manner of speaking. But if one tries out the person in some office or a.s.signment and then examines the nature of his achievements, even an ordinary person would have no doubts about whether he was a fool or a wise man.

Therefore, in the administration of an enlightened ruler, the prime minister always rises up from the position of district magistrate, and the powerful generals always emerge from the ranks of soldiers. Because individuals with merit are always rewarded, their t.i.tles and stipends soon become substantial and they are inspired to work even harder. As these individuals move from office to office and are promoted to higher and higher levels in the government, their offices and a.s.signments become more significant and the government becomes even more well ordered. To ensure that t.i.tles and stipends are substantial and offices and a.s.signments are well ordered is the Way of a king.

Someone who owns a thousand square li of rocks and boulders cannot be called rich; someone with an army of one million funerary dolls55 cannot be called strong. It is not that the rocks are not big or that the funerary dolls are not numerous, but such a person cannot be called rich or strong because boulders cannot grow grain, and funerary dolls cannot be used to oppose an enemy. Now, those officers who are clever artisans or merchants who have purchased their offices eat without ever having cultivated any new land, and land that is not cultivated is just as useless as land covered with rocks and boulders. Similarly, because the Confucians and the bravos have found a way to become eminent and honored without ever having to serve in the army, the people refuse to be employed in battle, making them as useless as funerary dolls. To understand that it is disastrous to have nothing but boulders and funerary dolls, but not understand that it is equally disastrous to have these office-buyers, Confucians, and bravos making it so that new land is not cultivated and the people refuse to be employed in battle is to not understand things of the same category.

Thus, even though the rulers or kings of enemy states may be pleased by my righteousness, I cannot make them offer up tribute and become my subjects; even though rulers within my own pa.s.ses may denounce my conduct, I can always make them present the ceremonial tribute of birds and pay court to me.56 Thus, when your strength is greater, others will pay court to you, but when your strength is weaker, you must pay court to others. Therefore, an enlightened ruler works to acc.u.mulate power. In a stern household there are no impertinent servants, but a compa.s.sionate mother will often have spoiled children. By this I know that might and the power of position can be used to put an end to violence, while even the most profound Virtue is not enough to stop disorder.

When a sage governs a state, he does not wait for people to be good in deference to him. Instead, he creates a situation in which people find it impossible to do wrong. If you wait for people to be good in deference to you, you will find that there are no more than ten good people within the borders of your state. But if you create a situation in which people find it impossible to do wrong, the entire state can be brought into compliance. In governing, one must use what is numerous and abandon what is scarce. Therefore, the sage does not work on his Virtue, he works on his laws.

If people had to wait for arrow shafts that are naturally straight, then for a hundred generations there would be no arrows. If they had to wait for wood that is naturally round, then for a thousand generations there would be no chariot wheels. If in a hundred generations there is not a single arrow shaft that is naturally straight, or a single piece of wood that is naturally round, how is it that every generation is able to ride around in chariots and shoot down birds with arrows? It is because they use the Way of straightening and bending. Indeed, even if one found an arrow shaft that was straight without having been straightened, or a piece of wood that was round without having been bent, a good craftsman would still not value it. Why? Because those who need to ride in chariots are more than just one person, and archers require more than just one shot. Similarly, even if there are a few people who are naturally good without having been trained through rewards and penalties, an enlightened ruler will not value them. Why? Because the laws of the state cannot be abandoned, and those who need to be governed are more than just one person. Therefore, a ruler who has the proper method does not rely on accidental goodness. He follows the Way that is certain to succeed. . . .

Now those who do not understand the art of governing always say, "One must win the hearts of the people."57 If one could bring about order simply by seeking to win the hearts of the people, there would be no need for great counselors like Yi Yin and Guan Zhong. All one would have to do is listen to the people. But the wisdom of the people cannot be used because their minds are like the minds of infants. If an infant's head is not shaved, its stomach will hurt; if its boils are not lanced, the swelling will become worse. Nevertheless, whenever an infant's head is shaved or its boils are lanced, someone has to hold the infant while its loving mother takes care of these things, and the infant will still scream and cry endlessly because it does not understand that enduring this little bit of discomfort will bring about a great benefit.

Now, those above encourage the people to plow their fields and cultivate new land because they want to increase the people's means of livelihood, but the people think their superiors are just being cruel. They draw up penal codes and establish heavy penalties in order to put an end to wickedness, but the people think their superiors are just being harsh. They levy taxes in money and grain in order to fill the coffers and granaries of the state so that they can fund military expeditions and rescue the people in times of famine, but the people think their superiors are just being greedy. They ensure that everyone in the state knows how to put on armor and see to it that there are no private exemptions from military service because they know that in order to capture enemies in battle the people must be able to combine their strength and fight fiercely, but the people think their superiors are just being violent. These four things are the means to good order and security, but the people do not know enough to be pleased by any of them.

The reason why rulers seek out officers with sagelike understanding is because they know that the wisdom of the people is not sufficient to guide them. In the past, Yu opened up a new channel for the Chang Jiang and dredged out the bottom of the Huang He, and yet the people collected tiles and stones to throw at him. Zichan opened up acres of land for cultivation and planted mulberry trees for the raising of silk worms, and yet the people of Zheng slandered and cursed him.58 Yu's efforts benefited the entire world and Zichan's efforts preserved the state of Zheng, but both men became the objects of slander. So clearly the wisdom of the people is not good enough to be of any use. Thus, to look for worthiness and wisdom when promoting officers, to expect to please the people when governing them-these policies are the sprouts of disorder. One can never govern properly using them.


Translations Liao, W. K.

1939/ The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu: A Cla.s.sic of Chinese Political Science. 1959 Probsthain's Oriental Series, vol. XXVI. 2 vols. London: Arthur Probsthain. (The only complete English translation currently available. Although Liao's rendering of the text is sometimes difficult to follow, it remains an invaluable resource for examining how Han Fei's views on politics and rhetoric are informed by his historical investigations and criticisms of other theorists.) Watson, Burton 1964 Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings. Columbia College Program of Translations from the Oriental Cla.s.sics. New York: Columbia University Press. (An extremely readable, though at times rather loose, translation of Han Fei's best-known philosophical treatises, prefaced by a brief introduction explaining the overall content and intellectual background of Han Fei's thought.) Waley, Arthur 1994 "Lao Tzu and Han Fei, Memoir 3," in The Grand Scribe's Records. Volume VII: The Memoirs of Pre-Han China, William H. Nienhauser, Jr., ed., pp. 2132. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. (Currently the best translation of Sima Qian's biography of Han Fei. Includes numerous textual and explanatory notes.) Secondary Works Chen, Ellen Marie 1975 "The Dialectic of Chih (Reason) and Tao (Nature) in the 'Han Fei-Tzu'." Journal of Chinese Philosophy 3.1: 122. (Argues that the Han Fei conceives of the ideal ruler as someone who tries to imitate the pa.s.sivity and objectivity of Dao , "Nature," by using laws and punishments-instead of subjective human zhi , "reason"-to eliminate selfishness and promote the common good.) Lundahl, Bertil 1992 Han Fei Zi: The Man and the Work. Stockholm East Asian Monographs, No. 4. Stockholm: Inst.i.tute of Oriental Languages, Stockholm University. (A scholarly monograph focusing on the problem of the authenticity of various chapters in the Han Feizi. Useful primarily for its summaries of modern Chinese and j.a.panese scholarship.) Moody, Peter R., Jr.

1979 "The Legalism of Han Fei-tzu and Its Affinities with Modern Political Thought." International Philosophical Quarterly 19.3: 31730. (A thoughtful examination of Han Fei's political philosophy that argues that Han Fei's amoralized, autocratic, and inst.i.tutional conception of politics presages the "modern" political theories found in the works of thinkers like Machiavelli and Hobbes.) w.a.n.g, Hsiao-po, and Leo S. Chang 1986 The Philosophical Foundations of Han Fei's Political Theory. Monograph no. 7 of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. (Examines five so-called Daoist chapters in the Han Feizi and argues that Han Fei's political philosophy represents an attempt to legitimize Legalist theory by grounding it in a Daoist conception of the underlying patterns and processes of the natural world.) 1See William H. Nienhauser, Jr., ed., The Grand Scribe's Records (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994), vol. 7, p. 25.

2See Fajia under Important Terms and individual entries under Important Figures.

3This chapter is noteworthy for its appropriation of Daoist vocabulary. Han Feizi is in fact the author of the first extant commentary on the Laozi.

4The qi tally served as a kind of contract or promissory note in Warring States China. When two parties entered into an agreement where one party agreed to provide the resources necessary to fund some item of business in exchange for a portion of the proceeds which that business would generate, the details of the transaction were written or carved on a bamboo or wooden slip, and the slip was then split in half. One half of the slip would go to the person who had provided the funds (i.e., the creditor), and one half would go to the person who would conduct the business (i.e., the debtor). In this pa.s.sage, Han Fei is using the image of the qi tally metaphorically to describe the "debt" that a minister incurs when he proposes to perform some task in the service of his lord.

5The fu tally was a symbol of legitimacy used to show that an individual had been authorized by his superior to perform some task or speak on the superior's behalf. These tallies were made from a wide variety of materials, including silk, jade, wood, and metal. When a subordinate was sent out on a military or diplomatic mission, he would be given the left-hand portion of the tally as way of proving that he had the authority to act in his superior's name. The superior would keep the right-hand portion of the tally, and use it as a means of proving to his operatives that the orders he sent via messengers were in fact from him and not from some outside party. In this line, Han Fei seems to be using the image of the fu tally to argue that a ruler should check to see that his ministers have only done those things that he has "authorized" them to do, based on their original proposal.

6Duke Huan of Qi (r. 685643) and King Zhuang of Chu (r. 613-591) were the first and fourth of China's "five lord protectors." See ba, "lord protector," under Important Terms.

7King Zhaoxiang of Yan (r. 311279 B.C.E.) and King Anxi of Wei (r. 276-243 B.C.E.) were the rulers of the states of Yan and Wei during periods when these states became minor military powers.

8They face north because the ruler traditionally faces south, a.s.suming the position on earth corresponding to the Pole Star in the heavens. Cf. a.n.a.lects 2.1 and 15.5.

9For the legendary sword Moye, see Zhuangzi, chapter 6, p. 238, n. 63.

10This unattested quotation is similar to a pa.s.sage found in the History that is cited by Xunzi. See Xunzi, chapter 2, p. 265 and chapter 17, p. 274.

11Cf. Mozi, chapter 35, p. 111, especially ns. 87, 88.

12For more on Tian Chang and Zi Han, see Han Feizi, chapter 49, p. 346, n. 41.

13Marquis Zhao of Han (r. 358333 B.C.E.) was ruler of the state of Han during the period when Shen Buhai served as prime minister. Although there is no way to be certain, the episode related here is mostly likely a fabrication concocted by Han Fei (or perhaps Shen Buhai) to make a point.

14Both this and the following story regarding the King of Chu are also cited by Mozi. See Mozi, chapter 16, pp. 7576.

15After the death of Guan Zhong, Duke Huan of Qi fell under the influence of his harem master Shu Diao and his cook Yi Ya , each of whom gained the Duke's confidence by pandering to his desires. The activities these two men performed on behalf of the Duke's son Wu Gui were responsible for starting the war of succession that erupted following Duke Huan's death in 643 B.C.E.

16In the year 316 B.C.E. Zizhi , prime minister of the state of Yan, persuaded his ruler King Kuai of Yan (r. 320312 B.C.E.) to yield the throne to him in deference to his superior worthiness. One of the ways he demonstrated this "worthiness" was by repeatedly refusing to accept the throne when King Kuai offered it.

17After Zizhi took over the duties of king, the situation in the state of Yan began to deteriorate rapidly. Things eventually became so bad that when the armies of the neighboring state of Qi invaded Yan in 314 B.C.E. (under the pretext of setting up King Kuai's son the Crown Prince Ping as ruler), the Yan troops refused to fight, allowing the Qi forces to march right in through the unlocked gates of the capital where they killed both Zizhi and (the former) King Kuai. Qi managed to maintain control of Yan for two years until a popular uprising lead by the Crown Prince expelled the invaders and put Ping on the throne.

18During the battle for succession that followed Duke Huan's death, none of his six sons were in a position to bury the former Duke, so his body was simply allowed to rot in his room.

19The Zhou Shu , "Doc.u.ments of Zhou" most likely refers to the set of thirtytwo essays that make up the "core" of the work now known as the Yi zhou shu , "Lost Doc.u.ments of Zhou." The version of Yi zhou shu we have today was probably compiled during the Western Han dynasty, but the core chapters may have been in circulation as early as the late fourth century B.C.E. The line quoted here comes from the Wu jing chapter in the current text.

20The roasting pillar was an extremely cruel form of punishment in which a bronze pillar was laid across a pit containing an open fire, and criminals were forced to walk across the heated pillar until they fell into the flames.

21w.a.n.g Liang is said to have been the charioteer of Viscount Jian of Zhao (fl. 517476). He was highly revered in ancient China for his skill at driving horses and teaching the art of charioteering. Cf Mengzi 3B1 (not in this volume).

22Xi Zhong is a mythical sage credited with the invention of the horse-drawn chariot during the Xia dynasty.

23Boli Xi was prime minister of the state of Qin under Duke Mu of Qin (r. 659621 B.C.E.). Tradition holds that he originally came to the state of Qin as a servant, but was set free when Duke Mu recognized his worth as an advisor. Although Han Fei implies that he became a servant willingly, other accounts suggest that he was forced into slavery when Duke Xian of Jin (r. 676651 B.C.E.) conquered his home state of Yu , and then given to Duke Mu of Qin when the latter married one of Duke Xian's daughters. Cf Mengzi 5A9.

24Although I translate them somewhat differently, my interpretation of these lines is informed by the arguments put forward by John Makeham in his article "The Legalist Concept of Hsing-Ming An Example of the Contribution of Archaeological Evidence to the Re-Interpretation of Transmitted Texts." Monumenta Serica 39: 87115. In his own translation of this pa.s.sage, Makeham omits the line cao sha sheng zhi bing , "to manipulate the handles of life and death."

25See chapter 7, p. 325, n. 13.

26In the year 463 B.C.E., the ducal house of the state of Jin was overthrown by the leaders of four powerful aristocratic clans, the Zhi , the Zhao , the Han , and the Wei . The Zhi clan initially tried to take control of the state, but was destroyed by the other three clans in the year 453 B.C.E. Because none of the remaining families were strong enough to defeat their rivals, they decided to divide the territory of the state of Jin into three separate, smaller states (i.e., the states of Zhao, Han, and Wei). These new states were formally recognized by the Zhou king in 403 B.C.E., and continued to exist for almost two hundred years until they were wiped out during the Qin unification. See the Map of China during the Spring and Autumn Period.

27Duke Xiao of Qin (r. 361338 B.C.E.) was the ruler of Qin during the period when Gongsun Yang enacted his political reforms. When Duke Xiao died in 338 B.C.E., his heir King Huiwen of Qin (r. 337311 B.C.E.) had Gongsun Yang torn apart by chariots because Gongsun Yang had previously mutilated the King's tutor and tattooed his preceptor in retribution for a crime he committed as heir.

28Zhang Yi , a native of the state of Wei, served as advisor to the rulers of a number of prominent states, but in reality he was always an agent of the state of Qin. He used his impressive rhetorical skills to persuade the rulers of Han and Wei into forming a "horizontal" alliance with Qin. As Qin's representative, he was often showered with gifts and t.i.tles by the rulers of the states in which he served and ama.s.sed a considerable fortune in his lifetime.

29Gan Mao served as Chancellor of the Left under King Wu of Qin (r. 310307 B.C.E.). He led the attack that captured the city of Yiyang near the East Zhou capital of Loyang in 307 B.C.E., and was a central figure in King Wu's plot to overthrow the last remnants of the Zhou dynasty. It is unclear how he used his position to extort benefits from the Zhou royal house.

30Wei Ran , the Marquis of Rang , served as prime minister under King Zhao of Qin (r. 306251 B.C.E.). In the year 270 B.C.E., he led a force of several thousand men across the territories of Han and Wei to seize the regions of Gang and Shou in the state of Qi. Although the official reason for this attack was to punish Qi for supporting the state of Wei four years earlier, Wei Ran's real purpose was to enlarge the size of his own holdings around the city of Tao .

31Fan Sui , the Marquis of Ying , also served as prime minister under King Zhao of Qin. He opposed Wei Ran's attack on the cities of Qi, and was later responsible for turning the King of Qin against Wei Ran. During his term as prime minister (c. 266255 B.C.E.), Fan Sui orchestrated a number of campaigns against the state of Han which resulted in the seizure of a substantial amount of territory along the Qin-Han border. However, because these lands ab.u.t.ted Fan Sui's own fief at Ying, their acquisition only served to increase his personal holdings.

32The people of Song were the b.u.t.t of many jokes. Cf. Mengzi 2A2 and Zhuangzi, chapter 1, p. 212.

33Cf. a.n.a.lects 12.11.

34For more on the doctrine of shi , "the power of position," see chapter 8, pp. 32732.

35That is, Kongzi himself.

36Lou Ji , the younger brother of Marquis Wen of Wei (r. 445396 B.C.E.), was a legendary hero renowned for his strength, courage, and skill with horses.

37Cf. a.n.a.lects 13.18.

38Cang Jie is the name of a mythical sage who supposedly created the Chinese written language by looking at the tracks left by birds in the sand.

39The argument here is based on the appearance of the Chinese characters for "public" and "private." The graph for the word "private" (si was originally written simply as . The graph for the word "public" (gong is composed of two elements: the original graph for si and the signific ba , which can have the meaning "to oppose." Thus, Han Fei's point is that Cang Jie understood the opposition between public and private interests and encoded it into the actual graphs for these words. Cf. Xunzi, chapter 2, p. 265, n. 24.

40That is, the handles of punishment and reward. For more on Han Fei's notion of "the two handles" (er bing ) , see Han Feizi, chapter 7, pp. 32327. I take the ming shu , "methods of clarification," mentioned here to refer to the various investigative and evaluative techniques that Han Fei believes a ruler must use to see through the rhetoric of his ministers, and learn the truth about their activities and intentions.

41Tian Chang and Zi Han are often used by Han Feizi as paradigmatic examples of usurpers who deceived their rulers into granting them the authority to bestow favors and/or administer punishments. (See Han Feizi, chapter 7, pp. 32327.) Tian Chang was the head of a powerful family in the state of Qi who used his wealth and position to ingratiate himself with the common people and buy the support of important government officials. In the year 481 B.C.E. he a.s.sa.s.sinated Duke Jian of Qi , exterminated the rival Gao and Guo clans, and set up Duke Jian's younger brother Duke Ping as a puppet monarch. This initial act of treachery paved the way for the Tian clan's eventual usurpation of the rulership of Qi sometime around 356 B.C.E. Zi Han was originally Minister of the City under Marquis Huan of Song . After being appointed to the position of prime minister, he tricked Marquis Huan into giving him the power to administer punishments, and then used this power to steal effective control of the state.

42The reference is to Sunzi bingfa , "Master Sun's Art of War," attributed to Sun Wu (c. 544496 B.C.E.), and Wuzi bingfa , "Master Wus Art of War," attributed to Wu Qi (d. 381 B.C.E.).

43The Five Emperors are the mythical rulers Tai Hao, Yan Di, Huang Di, Shao Hao, and Zhuan Xu. The Three Kings are Tang, Wen, and Wu (see Important Figures).

44The "vertical" and "horizontal" alliances are general designations used to describe the various anti-Qin (vertical) and pro-Qin (horizontal) military and political coalitions that were formed in China during the late fourth and third centuries B.C.E. The "vertical" alliances-so-named because they united states along a north-south axis-were made up of several smaller states who joined together (under the leadership of whichever of them happened to be the most powerful at the time) to resist the forces of the expanding state of Qin. The "horizontal" alliances-which united states along an east-west axis-were made up of states who, either out of fear or for the sake of political advantage, joined with Qin in their attacks against the other states. These alliances were usually put together by wandering persuaders of uncertain loyalties who travelled from state to state negotiating deals between the various rulers and obtaining official positions within the governments of each of the states they succeeded in rallying to their cause.

45The meaning of this line is somewhat unclear and the translation here is tentative.

46Although some scholars have gone to great lengths to try to correlate the names given here with specific figures in the Confucian and Mohist movements, the historical truth behind these eight schools of Confucianism and three schools of Mohism is still the subject of much scholarly speculation and debate.

47The name Yu is sometimes used to refer to the "dynasty" of the ancient sage-emperor Shun.

48No information about this figure is available. Most commentators agree that he was not part of the Qidiao family school of Confucianism mentioned in the opening paragraph.

49Ziyu is the secondary name of Tantai Mieming (b. 512 B.C.E.). He is mentioned briefly in the a.n.a.lects (cf. a.n.a.lects 6.14, not in this volume), but nothing is said about his physical appearance. Sima Qian includes Tantai Mieming among the ranks of Kongzi's disciples, but whereas Han Fei describes him as a beautiful man who disappointed Kongzi with the baseness of his conduct, Sima Qian states that he was an ugly man whose exemplary conduct led Confucius to reverse his original judgment that he was a man of limited abilities. See Nienhauser, The Grand Scribe's Records, op. cit., vol. 7, p. 76.

50 Zai Yu (a.k.a. Zai Ziwo , 520481 B.C.E.) was one of Kongzi's less enthusiastic disciples. Kongzi once praised him for his eloquence (cf. a.n.a.lects 11.3), but he was also scolded by the master for falling asleep during the day (cf. a.n.a.lects 5.10), and criticized for the "lack of feeling" he displayed in his att.i.tude toward the traditional three-year mourning ritual (cf. a.n.a.lects 17.21).

51 In the year 273 B.C.E., the Qin general Wei Ran , Marquis of Rang , attacked the states of Zhao, Han, and Wei and won a great battle against the Wei general Mang Mao (a.k.a. Meng Mao ) near the foot of Mount Hua in modern-day Shanxi province. The reason for Mang Mao's defeat is sometimes said to be that he gained his position through zha , "verbal trickery," rather than ability.

52 In the year 262 B.C.E. the state of Qin launched a campaign to retake lands it had won from the state of Han, but which the local governor of the region had surrept.i.tiously handed over to the state of Zhao. The Zhao general Lian Po was able to hold back the invading Qin troops at Changping for more than three years, but then the King of Zhao, listening to rumors being spread by Qin spies within his own state, removed Lian Po and appointed Zhao Kuo , the Lord of Mafu If , as supreme commander of the Zhao forces. Zhao Kuo persuaded the king that he could win a swift victory through a ma.s.sive frontal a.s.sault, but his inexperience led the Zhao troops into an ambush which divided the army in two and severed their supply lines. In the end, 450,000 men of Zhao lost their lives. Many of these either starved to death or were ma.s.sacred after the war was already over in order to punish the region and keep it from rising up in rebellion.

53 Master Ou the Blacksmith was a famous swordmaker of the Spring and Autumn Period.

54 Bo Le of was a talented horse trainer known for his ability to recognize and develop the hidden abilities of the animals under his care.

55In ancient China, small human figures made out of straw, wood, or clay were often buried in the tombs of high-ranking members of society. It was believed that these "funerary dolls" would serve the occupant of the tomb after death. The enormous terracotta army arrayed before the tomb of the First Emperor of China can be seen as the furthest extension of this ancient mortuary ritual. Mengzi quotes Kongzi as cursing the man who first gave these dolls a lifelike appearance, because this might lead to a revival of the ancient practice of sacrificing real people and burying them along with the dead. See Mengzi 1A4 (not in this volume). For an image of such a terracotta army, see the web page for this volume.

56In ancient China, va.s.sals would present offerings of birds to their rulers as ritual symbols of their loyalty. The type of bird presented differed according to the rank of the person presenting it.

57 Cf. Mengzi 4A9 (not in this volume).

58 Zichan was the prime minister of the state of Zheng under Dukes Jian HP (r. sixth century B.C.E.) and Ding (r. 529514 B.C.E.). He introduced a number of agricultural and economic reforms that greatly strengthened the state of Zheng, but that were initially opposed by the populace.


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Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy Part 32 summary

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