Confucianism vs Legalism

2469 Words Jul 22nd, 2014 10 Pages
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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Although it was well known that Confucius was elevated to high status after his death, his political career was not as successful. Confucius spent many years trying to promoting his ideas to rulers in different states but was not able to get through4. To understand why such a visionary philosopher could not get others to agree with him, we will have to look at the nature of the Confucian theory and why was it incapable of persuading the lords of countries.
Firstly, Confucianism prized the rule of men over the rule of law; that is to promote harmony in the people over the interest of a ruler. If a ruler has appropriate personal conduct the government will be effective without needing to issue order. However, the ruler do not have the correct conducts, his orders will not be obeyed.

Secondly, Confucius viewed rules and laws as harmful. He argued that people led by laws and punishments will try to avoid punishment but lose the sense of shame. If they are led by virtue and guided by propriety, they will preserve their sense of shame and become good citizens5. He saw a country as an extended family and a ruler should take care of his citizens like a father would take care of his children. The ruler as the “father” would need to set a proper example for the right ethics to flow down5.

Thirdly, the Confucianism school did not value institutions in inducing desirable…