Confucianism vs Legalism

In: Historical Events

Submitted By laomao
Words 2469
Pages 10
Chen Hanyu A0110820B Tutorial D5
Question 1: Introduction
For this paper, I will be discussing two opposing ideologies, Confucianism and Legalism. Towards the later part of ancient China (e.g Han dynasty), states started to adopt a mixture of Confucianism and Legalistic ideology. Why did Legalism and Confucianism fall off?
In this paper I will explore and provide my own insights on the shortcomings of both ideologies; how Legalism was more persuasive in getting people to accept their ideas and more effective as an ideology and how Confucianism lost out in both aspects.
Persuasiveness of Legalism
The central idea of legalism was to provide absolute power to the person in charge and the supremacy of authority. Legalists like Han Fei Zi believed that human nature was “evil” and strict rules should be in place to ensure order, similar to a shepherd and sheeps3.

With this theory in mind, the idea of absolute power was very attractive to rulers of states. Rulers will exercise the “two handles” of reward and punishment accordingly to keep their subjects obedient and loyal. This ideology is even more appealing towards newly founded states that lack in the department of control over its subjects. If states can adopt the legalistic way of ruling, rulers can exercise their control over the whole state to maintain order. Therefore it is more likely for rulers to be persuaded into adopting legalism as their state ideology since it aligns with their objectives.
When compared to Confucianism where rulers are encouraged to trust officials in states with their own ruling, power dilution was a very glaring problem to the rulers. China underwent many changes in dynasty with the passing of the “Mandate of Heaven” because families gained power to start a rebellion. The adopting of legalism was able to retain power for the ruler to minimize the chance of accumulated power…...

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