Back in the early civilizations of China, there was a major controversy between two different ideologies: Legalism and Confucianism. Legalism was a political philosophy that taught that a powerful and efficient government is key to maintain order and control over an empire. This ideology supports the fact that rulers should be strong and govern through force because people are naturally bad. Confucianism, on the other hand, was preached by a man named Confucius, who strongly believed that rulers should be virtuous and lead by a good example.
Basically the whole idea behind Confucianism is to keep everything morally upstanding and honest to set an example for the people. Confucius believed that if the ruler or leader created a positive society then all of the people would just naturally follow and do the right thing if the leader shows them what is right. This ideology was meant to take violence out of government and other things. In contrast, legalism is a far different ideology in a sense that a successful government depends on the conformity to law. This ideology basically means that people really do not have the free will to do or say whatever they want.
If they do that, the government will fall and cause anarchy with in the empire. The legalistic viewpoint on human nature is just that people will always do the bad thing if they are not punished. This refers back to when Hanfiezi said, “When a sage governs a state, he does not rely on the people to do good out of their own will. Instead, he sees to it that they are not allowed to do what is not good. If he relies on people to do good out of their own will, within the borders of the state not even ten persons could be counted on. ” Legalism states that government as well as society can’t be successful without force toward the people.
If I were a peasant, I would like to be governed by Confucianism. Although both philosophies have many differences they can be compared as well. Both of these philosophies contain a ruler that has to set an example for its people whether it is good or bad. I believe as a peasant I would want the free will to do what I want and not get punished if I don’t follow a uniform order. As a noble, I would also like to live under a Confucian style philosophy because I have the freedom to do what I want with my property and riches that I own instead of them being stripped from me which is what a legalistic ruler would do to me.
This is what Shi Huangdi did to the nobles when he was in power. If I were an emperor, I wouldn’t really mind which philosophy I would rather live under because I feel like the people will listen to me either way although Confucianism would be a more peaceful and easier way to settle it. I would want to lead a good example for my people so if I had a choice I would probably go with Confucianism because I would be confident in my ability to leading by example and trusting my people would follow.
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