Essay on Confucianism vs Legalism

Words: 2462
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
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Fourthly, when it comes to foreign relations, Confucianism discouraged one state’s invasion of other state. Confucianism argued that rulers following the guidance of “li” would induce residents in other states to accept the rule of the “li” ruler voluntarily. Relying on military force as a defense is an inferior act and would be unnecessary for a state.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong to promote ethics in citizens but the idea of removing laws and punishment in a society is unlikely to work. While no civilization can progress without the proper moral values, law and order is very much essential to the proper workings of a society. While I myself do not agree with human nature being good, I do not see human nature as how Han Fei Zi perceived. My opinion is that human nature starts out “ignorant”, based on our needs for survival, somewhat like an animal. An animal hunting for food is not evil; a human is just an animal who needs a poke in the right direction to achieve the right values. This is where laws come in to provide this “poke”.

Furthermore, much of Confucianism seems too idealistic in trying to create a seemingly morally perfect society. When we consider the practicality of Confucianism during periods like the Spring Autumn and Warring States period, rulers were looking for the right ideology to strengthen their nation and military. It became even unlikely for them to want to subscribe to Confucianism as they needed an immediate