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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Xunzi and Han Fei on Human Nature, ALEJANDRO BARCENAS
Compared with other distinguished students of this famous scholar, Li Si [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Han Fei [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Fuqiu was a rather obscure figure.
The horrid doctrines of Legalism attained their finished form in the teaching of Han Fei Tzu (280-233 B.
Machiavellian thinkers such as Han Fei (ancient China), Kautilya (ancient India) and Machiavelli himself are discussed along with the unscrupulous deeds of great princes, kings or emperors as rulers and conquerors in their various cultural and historical contexts.
Along the way Fu presents biographical sketches of prominent Legalists, including Guan Zhong, Li Kui, Wu Qi, Shen Dao, Shen Buhai, Shang Yang, Li Si, and Han Fei.
Han Fei inherited the concepts of his teacher, Xun Zi, and believed that human nature is vicious.
It takes a certain amount of hubris to presume that we today know more about the audience of the Daode jing than the ancient author of those commentaries (whether or not it was Han Fei himself).
Perhaps Han Fei fits the specifications of an amoral Legalist--but there is a vast difference between the statement that Han Fei is more interested in statecraft than in moral philosophy, and the statement that the Legalisten "curtly rejected" all discourse pertaining to virtue.
For example, I have always been suspicious of the name "Han Fei" [CHINESE CHARACTERS NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("Han the Refuter," or conceivably, "The Refuter from Han"), since Han Fei is one of the most elenctic Writers in the history of Chinese philosophy.
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]).
15) It thus appears that Hsun-tzu too had doubts about the duke's character, although he treats the issue less severely than Han Fei.
From the centralizing state's point of view, as Han Fei showed, the Ju surely exhibited one crucial flaw: the old Ju traditions required the filial son to ignore the state's claims on his person if those claims conflicted with his duty to his parents.