Han Feizi

Eirik Lang Harris

    Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionarypeer-review


    Han Feizi was the last great philosopher of China's Warring States period and traditionally has been characterized as the synthesizer of legalist thought, which is often described as an amoral, totalitarian political vision aimed at consolidating and increasing the ruler's power. While he expands the ideas of earlier legalists and argues against the morality-based political visions of Confucians, Daoists, and Mohists, his focus is on ideas that work, regardless of source. Han Feizi develops an amoral political realism arising from his understanding of the realities of the natural world and human nature and argues for the development of a strong, stable, and well-organized bureaucracy, an inviolable legal code, and the rejection of virtue-based politics. His goal is to create a system that doesn't rely upon the wisdom, talents, character, or characteristics of any particular individual but is rather a mechanistic leviathan requiring little in the way of active attention.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe International Encyclopedia of Ethics
    EditorsHugh LaFollette, Gillian Brock, John Deigh, Jules Holroyd, Daniel Star, Sarah Stroud, Eva Lafollette
    Number of pages7
    ISBN (Electronic)9781444367072
    ISBN (Print)9781405186414, 9781119488873
    Publication statusPublished - May 2021

    User-Defined Keywords

    • bureaucracy
    • Chinese philosophy
    • Confucianism
    • Dao
    • Daoism
    • laws
    • legalism
    • political normativity
    • political realism
    • political theory


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