Han Fei

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Han Fei 韓非
BirthplaceState of Han

Han Fei


(also Han Fei-tzu). Born 288 B.C.; died 233 B.C. A founder of the Legist school (Fa-chia) in ancient China.

An official in the Ch’in state, Han Fei wrote most of the chapters of the treatise Han Fei-tzu, which focused on the problems of managing an administrative apparatus. As a supporter of despotic government, Han Fei developed a series of specific measures designed to limit the rights of the bureaucracy. According to the treatise, “under no circumstances should a ruler share power with anyone. If he yields to civil servants so much as a grain of his power, they will immediately turn this grain into one hundred grains” (ch. 31). Han Fei’s ideas greatly influenced the world view of the emperor Shih Huang-ti.


Drevnekitaiskaia filosofiia, vol. 2. Moscow, 1973.
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The horrid doctrines of Legalism attained their finished form in the teaching of Han Fei Tzu (280-233 B.
The last three pages of the chapter present a story that is based on an earlier account in the Han Fei tzu [CHINESE TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII](7) and close with the historian's judgment, introduced by the standard formula "the Grand Historian says" (t'ai-shih kung yueh [CHINESE TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).
It is therefore this section that deserves closer examination in order to determine the textual value of what is left after leaving aside the "Yueh-chi" and Han Fei tzu material.
First, the closing passage of the "Yueh shu," based on the Han Fei tzu, relates the story of Duke P'ing of Chin [CHINESE TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (r.
As in the preceding Han Fei tzu narrative, it warns against licentious melodies and notes that the ancient kings had their people listen to the "Ya" and the "Sung" [CHINESE TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].
In sum, the Shih-chi "Book on Music" conveys consistently the same message: a spurious account of Wu-ti's music serves to condemn the hymns on the heavenly horses directly, the middle part of the "Yueh-chi" is an altogether highly classicist document including an aggressive attack on "new melodies," the following narrative from the Han Fei tzu is exclusively devoted to just this point, and the concluding remarks attributed to the Grand Historian reiterate the program.
Many of the greatest Chinese philosophers - Confucius, Mencius, Lao Tzu, Zhuang Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu - lived during this period.
Liao, Works of Han Fei Tzu, 1: 50; Burton Watson, Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings (New York: Columbia Univ.
31 Han-tzu ch'ien-chieh, 2: 362; Liao, Han Fei Tzu, 2: 162.