Strengths And Weaknesses Of Legalism

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ritical review of Legalism through the Confucian/Kantian lens: The Qin State, later as the Qin Dynasty (221BCE-206 BCE), grew and flourished for several centuries. Why did it collapse so suddenly? This topic invites you to examine, among other things, the strengths and weaknesses of the Legalist approach. Consult Jia Yi’s “The Faults of Qin” online. To make your essay more argumentative and dialogical, you need to integrate Confucius’ humanistic view on government, “Guide them by edicts, keep them in line with punishments and the common people will stay out of trouble but will have no sense of shame. Guide them by virtue, keep them in line with the rites, and they will, besides having a sense of shame, reform themselves” (The Analects 2.3). To broaden your critical vision, read Immanuel Kant’s masterpiece Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) in which Kant makes a distinction between doing something right for its own sake (autonomous) and doing something right for the benefits derived from it (heterononous). Visit Michael Sandel’s video-taped lecture online @

2. Family Love vs. Universal Love: Contrast Mozi’s essay on “Universal Love” with Confucius’ teachings on family love in The Analects@
Cite textual evidence to back up your critical comments. A case study on an ethical dilemma will help develop your argument. For instance, the on-going investigations of the former president of Taiwan, Chen Shuibian, might make an interesting topic. By implication, Chen’s children have been cornered and pressured to make a choice between family love and universal love. Another example is in Plato’s writing Euthyphro where Euthyphro faces an ethical dilemma to persecute his father for murder.

3. The impact of Confucianism on the daily life & the role of the individual in our society: Since not everybody can work in the government, Confucius said, “…Simply by being a good son and friendly to his brothers a man can exert an influence upon government” (The Analects 2.21). What is the logic behind this model in its positive sense? Is there any potential limit in this mental frame? As a Chinese idiom goes, 各人自扫门前雪 [gèrén zìsǎo ménqiánxuě] , “Each sweeps the snow from his own doorsteps”─ meaning “Mind one's own business” or “Hoe one's own potatoes.” What if your neighbor did not do his job and fell down on his slippery doorsteps? In his best seller of 2000 The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell reported a shocking case: a young Queens woman (in New York) by the name of Kitty Genovese was chased by her assailant and attacked three times on the street, over the course of half an hour, as thirty-eight of her neighbors watching from their windows. None called the police. Gladwell concluded that “When people are in a group…responsibility for acting is diffused” (The Tipping Point 29). In your essay, explore whether as an individual or as in a group setting, “simply being a good son” is adequate to exert a larger impact on the society and government.

4. In Race and Culture: A World View, Thomas Sowell states that since not all “the conquerors always had a more advanced culture, ... [conquerors of the British] were eventually absorbed by the English [language] … as various conquerors were absorbed by the Chinese [language].” This topic invites you to conduct a case study on one or more instance in which various invaders were absorbed by the Chinese culture and language, from time to time, when gunpowder failed to save the nation. The Northern Dynasties after the Three Kingdoms provide the first example of invaders or conquerors being “absorbed” by the Chinese culture and language. For instance, in 493, Emperor Xiaowen (r. 471-499) initiated a radical program of sinification under which “all Xiaobei officials below the age of thirty [were required] to speak Chinese at court” (65). (Consult East Asia 64-66 2nd Ed.; 78-79 1st