Han Fei

(redirected from Han Fei Tzu)
Han Fei 韓非
BirthplaceState of Han
Occupation
philosopher

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.

REFERENCE

Drevnekitaiskaia filosofiia, vol. 2. Moscow, 1973.
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Like Hayek, the great legalist scholar Han Fei Tzu (3rd century, B.C.), thought that "order without direction" required firm rules to guide individual behavior.
In doing so, he ignores the fact that Han Fei Tzu sought to integrate Taoism with a liberal legalism and viewed law as an instrument for enhancing--not repressing--freedom.
(5) Han Fei Tzu is often wrongly viewed as an authoritarian of the Legalist School rather than an advocate of market liberalism under a rule of law that prevents injustice.
The horrid doctrines of Legalism attained their finished form in the teaching of Han Fei Tzu (280-233 B.C.).
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.
Second, this short narrative is followed by a highly classicist statement on the correct order of ritual music that "upwards was to serve the ancestral temple and downwards was to transform the common people." (Note the proximity of this formula to the one ascribed to Chi An.) 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].(30)
Many of the classic strategies were written during this period, because it was a time of constant warfare and of the famous "hundred flowers blooming" and "hundred schools debating." 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.
Watson, Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings [New York, 1964], 106).