Han Feizi: Basic Writings (Translations from the Asian Classics)

By Burton Watson

Trenchant, refined, and cynical, Han Feizi has been learn in all ages and remains to be of curiosity this day whilst everyone is greater than ever all for the character and use of strength. Han Feizi (280?-233 B.C.), a prince of Han, used to be a consultant of the Fa-chia, or Legalist, tuition of philosophy and produced the ultimate and such a lot readable exposition of its theories. His instruction manual for the ruler bargains with the issues of strengthening and keeping the country, the way in which of the ruler, using energy, and punishment and prefer. satirically, the ruler most affected by way of Han Feizi, the king of Qin, finally despatched Han Feizi to legal, the place he later devoted suicide.

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Courtiers and officials flocked to the provider in their sovereign, each one diligently getting to his personal tasks, and none dared overstep his place. Affairs of presidency weren't pressing8 and time was once left to spare. the best way the ruler relied upon his place made it so. the method during which ministers invade the rights in their sovereign is as sluggish because the moving of the contours of the panorama. bit by bit they reason him to lose his feel of course, until eventually he's dealing with east the place earlier than he confronted west, and but he's ignorant of the switch. consequently the previous kings arrange south-pointing markers to figure out the path of dawn and sundown. within the similar means, an enlightened ruler will make sure that the pursuits of his ministers don't roam past the boundaries of the legislations, and they don't move approximately shelling out favors although such acts might be in the legislation. they're authorised to make no stream that's not in accord with legislations. legislation are the technique of prohibiting blunders and ruling out selfish motives;9 strict consequences are the technique of imposing orders and disciplining inferiors. Authority should not stay in places;10 the ability of decree shouldn't ever be open to joint use. If authority and tool are shared with others, then all demeanour of abuse becomes rife. If legislations doesn't command recognize, then the entire ruler’s activities may be endangered. If consequences are usually not enforced, then evil isn't surmounted. 8Emending zu to cu based on the recommendation of Chen Qiyou; however the which means is especially uncertain. 9Amending ling to jin and omitting you based on the recommendation of Chen Qiyou. 10Reading er rather than dai. 28 han feizi although a talented wood worker is in a position to judging a immediately line along with his eye on my own, he'll constantly take his measurements with a rule; notwithstanding a guy of more advantageous knowledge is able to dealing with affairs by way of local wit on my own, he'll continually glance to the legislation of the previous kings for assistance. Stretch the plumb line, and crooked wooden may be planed instantly; follow the extent, and bumps and hollows will be shaved away; stability the scales, and heavy and lightweight could be adjusted; get out the measuring jars, and discrepancies of volume will be corrected. within the similar method one should still use legislation to manipulate the nation, taking out all concerns on their foundation by myself. The legislation not more makes exceptions for males of excessive station than the plumb line bends to deal with a crooked position within the wooden. What the legislation has decreed the clever guy can't dispute nor the courageous guy enterprise to contest. while faults are to be punished, the top minister can't break out; while sturdy is to be rewarded, the bottom peasant mustn't ever be omitted. therefore, for correcting the faults of superiors, chastising the misdeeds of subordinates, restoring order, exposing mistakes, checking extra, remedying evil, and unifying the criteria of the folk, not anything can examine to legislation. for placing worry into the officers, awing the folks, wiping out wantonness and sloth, and fighting lies and deception, not anything can evaluate to consequences.

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