Hanfeizi Collage

Hanfeizi was a strict, orderly, and powerful ruler. He saw that there was no order or good government in China. "Like Confucius, Hanfeizi was very concerned with creating peace and order in society." But he had a different way of interpreting proper behavior. He did not think that Confucius' teachings could solve the disorder problem. So he created legalism. "Those who followed legalism believed that most people are naturally selfish. People would always persue their own self interest." However, if they could not control their privileges there would be consequences. "If they were bad, they would receive harsh punishments. If they were good they would be rewarded." Hanfeizi believed that this was the correct way to govern, because it taught people a lesson so they dont make the same mistake again. Most of why Hanfiezi created legalism was because of the misbehavior, and he believed that this philosophy would fix this problem and help build a more controlled empire.

Hanfeizi knew that if somebody did not learn their lesson, they'll keep making the same bad mistake. So he had to give punishments. "People were forbidden to criticize the government. Anyone caught doing this would receive a severe punishment. Many people were put to death."  This is just one example of how harsh legalistic punishments were. The legalist government was able to do this because the government was in absolute power over Chinese people. This made them fearful so it was simple to make them cooperate.

Hanfeizi had also noticed that many kings and rulers were being overthrown because of little power over the Chinese people. "Rulers must have absolute power backed by military might." Hanfeizi taught this to all the rulers so they would not be overthrown. "Hanfeizi wrote, he who trusts others would be controlled by others." What he meant by this was that if you keep trusting other people, they have the power to make you do something you dont want to do but yet you trust them,  so you do it anyway. It's like they have control over your actions. Rulers could have this happen to them also. They could trust the Chinese people to do something that was a big mistake so that ruler could be overthrown. These are two ways that Hanfeizi taught you could be overthrown,  and two solutions to fix it.

Ruler of the Shang dynasty being overthrown.

Lastly, Hanfeizi realized that behavior was corrupt in China. So he set some laws and rules. "Strict laws should be enfoced and established over all the empire." To fix the misbehavior, Hanfeizi had to be firm with the people, otherwise they would not be afraid of him and would never learn their lesson. "Anyone who is good gets awarded, but those who have bad behavior get a harsh punishment." Hanfeizi only gave them harsh punishments if they acted unacceptably innapropriate. So don't get the idea that he was completely ruthless,  because he wasn't. Confucious does not even compare to Hanfeizi, who was more strict than most other rulers. However,  his methods to fix bad behavior and lack of superior governing often worked and seemed to be the better solution for him and the Chinese people.

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