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The Fall of Qin: A Confucian Perspective - Essay Example

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In the paper “The Fall of Qin: A Confucian Perspective” the author analyzes the reasons and the final codification of Confucianism, rather than Qin’s Legalism, as the official ideology of the Chinese ruling elites. The Qin Dynasty was always cited as an example of tyranny by Confucian scholars. …
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The Fall of Qin: A Confucian Perspective
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Download file to see previous pages The latter doctrine was most fundamentally expressed in the works by Shang Yang, Shen Dao, et al. The Book of Lord Shang (Shang chün shu), written by Shang Yang when the latter was the Qin Duke’s chief adviser, may be viewed as the orthodox exposition of Legalism. As it was Legalism that became the official doctrine of the Qin court under Qin Shi-Huang-di, it is pertinent to analyze its teachings so as to contrast them with the Confucian ones. Such comparison will help us to understand the degree of incompatibility of these two doctrines. The Legalists’ main preoccupation was with a rational ruling of the state. While previous strands of social thought emphasize the ritualistic aspects of the ruler’s function, the followers of fa jia demanded the prudent and all-encompassing control by the State over all individual life and all social classes. The ruler was to stand above the previously cherished customary laws and all “old” customs and rituals in general. His will was to be executed on the pain of death, disfigurement or any other similar cruel punishment. The Qin criminal code, with its harsh penalties for even minor transgressions, was in this respect the epitome of a Legalist understanding of the State’s abilities to quell each and every form of dissent. This emphasis on punishment stemmed from the Legalists’ belief that human nature was fundamentally corrupt and wicked, so that the State and its rulers as embodiment of the Heaven’s will and order on the Earth, were to suppress the immoral tendencies of the subjects. by harsh system of punishment, on the one hand, and to induce them to obey the Heaven-instituted order by the respective rewards, if need be. In total, though, in the view of Legalist school the majority of common people were irredeemable in their ways, so that a strong State should always be ready to mete out punishments for their transgressions, as it will be pointless to rely on education to reform them.
While the traditional Ancient Chinese society that developed under Shang and Zhou placed great importance on the concepts of noble birth and nobility in general, the Legalists either ignored or even mocked such ideas, viewing all the subjects of the State, irrespective of their descent, education, etc., as the useful pawns to be used and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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