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Legalist


The most immediately successful school of thought was that of the Legalist. They too believed that man’s nature was essentially evil; they held that people had to be restrained by the powerful laws of society. They preached the need for a strong centralized state with absolute authority and control. They supported policies of repression. They believed in hereditary rulers dedicated to creating a militarily strong and prosperous state. Everyone, they held, should be obliged to do productive work. Merchants and scholars were out of flavor with them as they were not producers of wealth. The teaching of music, history, and philosophy they condemned as corrupting influences. The Legalists opposed the old nobility that was not based on military achievement .Han Fei Tzu, a prince of the Han state, was leader of this school of thought, and believed that military power and productive agriculture were more important for the success of the state than benevolence. A historian a few centuries later wrote that he delighted in the study of punishments, names, laws and methods of governing (Han Fe Zi was one of the several Legalist who were killed by the ruler they assisted to the power) In the long term Confucianism and Taolism were the only survivors amongst the rival schools of thougt.

 
 

 

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