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One that the greatest intellectual discussions in human background that has taken place in every civilization has to be the duty that the federal government or the state must play in the stays of its citizens. This question frequently relies on an additional important ontological debate, i beg your pardon is the controversy on human nature. Those who argue that human being nature is inherently evil, generally advocate for a larger role by the state in the lives of the citizens. Conversely, those who think that human nature is naturally good, frequently argue that the states function in the lives of the citizens have to be limited, in order to permit rational individuals to meet their potential. This paper will evaluate financial thought throughout the Warring States period to the establishment of the Han Dynasty, and how the relates to the ontological concern of human being nature. This record will look for to sell a comparison between the Confucian financial thought that Confucius, Mencius and also Sima Qian, and the Legalist economic thought of mr Shang Yang, Han Fei Tzu and Xunzi. Back Xunzi was a follower of Confucius, this paper will argue the Xunzi was a Legalist that deviated from classic Confucian thought, and therefore his disagreements on the duty of the state in the economy and also on human being nature varied substantially from Confucius and Mencius. Legalism played an instrumental duty in difficult the inherent assumptions of Confucianism throughout the Warring States duration and played a an essential role in unifying the realm, thus ending the Warring states Period. Legalist scholars argued that if the state permitted individuals to seek their very own self-interest and also accumulate wealth, the state would end up being weak. However, the can be fried downfall the the state emerged through the be suppressive of the individual, or together Confucius argued, by governing versus nature. This brought about the return the a Confucian style of economics throughout the Han dynasty, i m sorry was broadened upon through the good Chinese historian, Sima Qian.

The Master, Confucius, thought that a government’s role in the lives of that citizens have to be limited. Confucius said Tsze-kung that “The requisites of federal government are the there it is in sufficiency the food, sufficiency of army equipment, and confidence the the world in your ruler.”<1> Therefore, the function of federal government was simple and its function was essentially to safeguard the population, while permitting individuals to pursue what they are meant for, based upon their own inherent rationality. Confucius protest unnecessary state treatment in the economy and also was additionally opposed to governing against nature.<2> Additionally, among the greatest followers that Confucius, Mencius, increased upon Confucius’ appropriate of limited government intervention by discussing the rationality of the individual. Mencius stated that, “There is a common expression, ‘The Empire, the state, the family’. The empire has its communication in the state, the state in the family, and also the household in one’s very own self.”<3> Therefore, because that Mencius, people were the many important element of culture in relationship to heaven.<4> Additionally, Mencius’ the contrary to government intervention in the economic situation is noticeable by his opposition to market monopolies. Follow to Mencius:

In antiquity, the sector was for exchange of what one had actually for what one lacked. The authorities supervised it. Over there was, however, a despicable fellow who constantly looked because that vantage allude and, going increase on it, gazed into the street to the left and to the ideal in order come secure himself all the profit there remained in the market. The people all assumed him despicable, and, together a result, they taxation him. The taxing of merchants started with this despicable fellow.<5>

Additionally, as soon as explaining the principle of Kingly government to King Hsüan the Ch’I, Mencius stated, “there to be inspection however no levy in ~ border stations and market places.”<6> Therefore, Mencius was advocating that vendors be exempted native taxes top top what they import right into the market place, and restricted government intervention. Mencius’ works on the economy were based upon his check out of human nature. Mencius thought that the individual was rational and also capable that learning, miscellaneous that would be perceived as a liberal watch of human nature, today.

Mencius’ conclusions became an extremely controversial to scholars of the Warring claims Period, consisting of Lord Shang Yang, Han Fei Tzu and Xunzi, and this result in the creation of Legalist thought. Xunzi, another prominent monitor of Confucius, disagreed v Mencius’ assessment of person nature. Xunzi thought that person nature to be bad; that stated, “Human nature is together that people are born v a love of profit. If they follow this inclinations, they will certainly struggle and also snatch from every other, and inclinations come defer or yield will die.”<7> Additionally, Xunzi stated:

Mencius claimed that people’s volume to learn is proof that your nature is good. I disagree. His statement reflects he go not recognize what human nature is and has not pondered the distinction between what is human nature and also what is developed by man. Human nature is what sky supplies. It can not be learned or functioned at… human nature refers to what is in people but which lock cannot research or work-related at achieving. Human assets refers come what civilization acquire with study and effort…<8>

The id that human nature is naturally evil caused the belief that human nature and the anarchy that outcomes from it necessary to be controlled. This is what caused the theory of Legalism. Legalists make use of the state together a way to manage human nature, and to prevent people from pursuing their own self-interest. Therefore, just like how Mencius’ financial policy was notified by his belief in the rationality of the individual, the economic policy that Legalists was educated by their id in the irrationality that the individual, and the require to control the individual in order to control the inescapable chaos and also anarchy.

The most considerable account of Legalist economic thought during this period was mr Shang Yang, who held high office in the state the Qin between the year of 359-338 B.C.E. Shang’s works on Legalism ended up being the basis because that Xunzi’s and also Han Fei Tzu’s writings. Lord Shang said that “weakening the people” to be a tool that the state might utilize in stimulate to preserve stability within society. Follow to mr Shang, “If the human being live within humiliation, they worth rank; if they room weak, they honor office; and also if they room poor, they compensation rewards.”<9> Additionally, as opposed to Mencius, mr Shang said that a market syndicate was in the states ideal interest; this was fuelled by his id that “Orderly federal government brings strength, yet disorder brings weakness.”<10> The Legalist scholar Han Fei Tzu, who was indigenous the little state of Han, yet advised the future Emperor that the Qin State once he ascended come the throne in 246 B.C.E., thought that preventing the accumulation of riches by an individual was vital in preserving order within the state. According to Han Fei Tzu:

An enlightened ruler will carry out his state in such a way as come decrease the variety of merchants, artisans, and also other males who make their living by hike from place to place, and also will watch to it that such men are looked under upon…. Once a man who sits ago and collection taxes renders twice as lot as a farmer and also enjoys greater honor 보다 the plowman or the solider, climate public-spirited males will grow few and merchants and also tradesmen will increase in number. These space the customs of a disordered state: that is scholars prayer the means of the former kings and also imitate your benevolence and also righteousness, put on a same appearance and speak in elegant phrases, thus casting doubt upon the regulations of the time and causing the leader to be of 2 minds. The speechmakers propound false schemes and borrow affect from abroad, furthering their personal interests and forgetting the welfare that the state’s altars that the soil and grain.<11>

Legalist scholar such as Han Fei Tzu fear merchants, and much more importantly, feared the buildup of wealth because it endangered the power of the state. For Legalist’s like Lord Shang and also Han Fei Tzu, that lived v the Warring claims Period, the state was perceived as the just thing that could lug stability and order come an otherwise anarchic and chaotic world. Therefore, something that threatened the strength of the state was seen as a hazard to order and also stability.

Xunzi broadened upon increase the Legalist theory by suggesting that regulate over the people and the economy was the only means to make a country self-sufficient. Xunzi supported for the plan of letting “the world make a generosity living through the exercise of government.”<12> because that Xunzi, this intended that the state had to manage the use of products in order come ensure that its citizens can live generosity lives<13>; essentially, it supposed protecting civilization from themselves. How exactly does one allow the people make a generosity living through the practice of government? follow to Xunzi:

If one taxes lightly the cultivated fields and also outlying districts, imposes excises uniformly in ~ the border stations and also in the industry places, keeps statistical records to alleviate the variety of merchants and traders, initiates only rarely tasks requiring the labor of people, and also does not take the farmers from their fields other than in the off-season, the state will certainly be wealthy.<14>

Once again, this emphasizes the deviation through Xunzi from Mencius’ believed in regards come the taxes of merchants. This distinction of course goes ago to the vital difference between Mencius’ and also Xunzi’s views on human nature. If humans are rational and capable the learning, climate there is no need to worry about merchants. However, if human being nature is naturally evil, climate there is a require to manage merchants, in stimulate to preserve order within society and to stop the accumulation of wealth.

Xunzi’s teachings had actually a far-reaching impact ~ above Li Si, among his students that would come to be an torture to the an initial Qin Emperor. Li Si play a far-reaching role in the marriage of the realm and the establishment of the Qin empire in 221 B.C.E.; he eventually came to be Prime Minister the the Qin State.<15> together Prime Minister, Li Si easily implemented Legalist policies, which consisted of high taxation, and also perhaps his most famous policy, a publication burning plan that to be done with the on purpose of regulating thought in ~ society.<16> Li Si and the Qin emperor imposed Legalist policies that invoked fear and also tyranny in order to regulate the masses and to keep order. The is necessary to keep in mind that the Qin fought and consolidated control over plenty of states in order come unify the realm; therefore, maintaining stability and order after the two-century Warring States duration was crucial. However, complying with the fatality of the very first Qin Emperor in 210 B.C.E., the state descended right into disorder, which brought about the start of the Han Dynasty. Follow to the historians Patricia Ebrey and Anne Walthall, “The Legalist institutions designed to concentrate power in the hand of the ruler made stability dependent top top the strength and also character that a single person.”<17>

The consolidation and also establishment that the Qin shown the success that Legalist financial policies. The teachings and writings that Legalist scholars such as Lord Shang Yang, Han Fei Tzu and also Xunzi play a an essential role in unifying the realm. However, when it to be unified, Li Si and the Qin Emperor overstepped their mandate, and also instead of controlling anarchy, they produced chaos. Jia Yi, a Han statesman and poet, deadline the downfall of the Qin to the 2 Qin Emperors.<18> Additionally, Jia Yi likewise blamed the Legalist financial policies for the Qin’s inescapable downfall, by stating:

“Had the 2nd Emperor been also a mediocre ruler…had he only diminished taxation and statutes to reduce oppression, curtailed sumptuary laws, and, after every the over had been done, had he lightened punishments, thus permitting people under heaven to renew themselves and change their methods so as to conduct their stays properly, every respecting himself…”<19>

Legalist scholars argued that if the state allowed individuals to seek their very own self-interest and accumulate wealth, the state would end up being weak. However, the ultimate downfall of the state occurred through the be suppressive of the individual, or together Confucius argued, by governing versus nature.

In 178 B.C.E., the Han statesman Chao Cuo created Memorial top top the encourage of Agriculture, which stood for a return to Confucian financial thought. Chao suggested that one enlightened ruler “will encourage his civilization in farming and sericulture, lighten the poll tax and other levies, boost his save of supplies and also fill his granaries in ready for flood and also drought.”<20> Emperor Wen authorized of Chao’s recommendations, and also grain became abundant.<21> Additionally, the resumption that Confucian financial thought was not only noticeable in the plans of the Han, however in academic writings as well. The an excellent Chinese historian, Sima Qian, that lived throughout the Han dynasty, made significant contributions that advanced the works of Confucius and Mencius v regards come the government’s duty in the economy.<22> according to Sima Qian:

Society clear must have farmers before it can eat; foresters, fishermen, miners etc. Prior to it can exploit natural resources; craftsmen before it deserve to have manufactured goods; and merchants before they deserve to be distributed. But once this exist, what need is over there for federal government directives, mobilisations of labour, or routine assemblies? every man has only to it is in left to utilise his very own abilities and also exert his toughness to attain what he wishes.<23>

Sima Qian not only promoted the position of minimal government that was argued by Confucius and also Mencius, however went as far as to question whether or not government should have actually any duty at all complying with the establishment of a formal financial model. Sima Qian did not check out the need for considerable government involvement in the economy, particularly when the an easy economic system was currently established. Because that Sima Qian, the finest policy was to ‘let that be’ and to enable the separation, personal, instance for accomplish their own self-interest, together they are rational.

The four-century debate in between Confucian and Legalist thinkers on human nature and also the government’s function in the economic situation mirrors the ongoing pundit debate in between Liberals and Mercantilists that began with Adam Smith’s publication of The riches of nations in 1776. Liberals, lot like Confucian thinkers, have suggested for a limited role by the state in the economy, whereas Mercantilists, lot like the Legalists of the Warring says Period, have argued for an increased duty by the state in the economic climate to certain protectionism and to control human nature. The interesting facet is that this ongoing controversy did not start with Smith’s publication in 1776, but started with Confucius’ The Analects, which was published after his fatality in 479 B.C.E. This intellectual controversy transformed into a complete out intellectual war throughout the Warring says Period, together Legalists scholars began daunting the inherent presumptions within Confucian assumed in bespeak to define the anarchy, chaos, and constant warfare the they to be living in. The contributions of Legalists scholars can not be overstated, together their writings ended up being the an extremely tools that were made use of to unify the kingdom in 221 B.C.E., which finished the Warring states Period. Furthermore, the ongoing debate in between Liberals and also Mercantilists, i m sorry has consisted of notable figures such as Adam Smith, Friedrich List, Alexander Hamilton, and also John Maynard Keynes, is an expansion of the intellectual controversy that developed between the Confucians and also the Legalists during the Warring States period to the facility of the Han Dynasty. This demonstrates that a key understanding and reading that history, including people that might seem unfamiliar, is crucial in stimulate to know the present world.

Bibliography

Confucius, “Confucian Analects: book XII”, in The arts of battle & Other classics of east Philosophy, ed. Ken Mondschein. Mountain Diego: Canterbury Classics, 2016.

Cuo, Chao. “Memorial top top the encouragement of Agriculture”, in in Sources the Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1, ed. Wilhelm Theodore De Bary, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler. Brand-new York: Colombia college Press, 1999.

Duyvendak, J.J.L.The publication of lord Shang. London, 1928.

Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. “Confucian Teachings.” In Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, ed. Mark Coyle and also Patricia Ebrey. Brand-new York: The cost-free Press, 1993.

Ebrey, Patricia and Anne Walthall, East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and also Political History, 3rd ed. Wadsworth: Cengage Leanring, 2014.

Goldin, Paul Rakita. “Li Si: Chancellor the the Universe” in The person Tradition in Pre-modern China, ed. Kenneth J. Hammond. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly resource Inc.

Mencius, Mencius, IV. A, trans. D.C. Lau. Penguin Books, 1970.

Qian, Sima. Records of the cool Historian, “The Biographies of the Money-Makers”, in Mao Tao, “Confucian assumed on the complimentary economy”, in The background of old Chinese financial Thought, ed. Cheng Lin, terry Peach and Wang Fang. London and new York: Routledge, 2014.

Tao, Mao. “Confucian thought on the complimentary economy”, in The background of ancient Chinese financial Thought, ed. Cheng Lin, terrycloth Peach and also Wang Fang. London and new York: Routledge, 2014.

Tzu, Han Fei. Han Fei Tzu: an easy Writings, trans. Burton Watson. Brand-new York and also London: Columbia university Press, 1964.

Xunzi, Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the finish Works, trans. John Knoblock, vol. II, publications 7-16. Stanford: Stanford university Press, 1994.

Yi, Jia. “The Faults of Qin”, in Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1, ed. William Theodore De Bary, Irene Bloom, and also Joseph Adler (New York: Colombia university Press, 1999), 230.

Notes

<1> Confucius, “Confucian Analects: book XII”, in The arts of battle & Other classics of east Philosophy, ed. Ken Mondschein (San Diego: Canterbury Classics, 2016), 296.

<2> Mao Tao, “Confucian assumed on the complimentary economy”, in The history of old Chinese economic Thought, ed. Cheng Lin, terry Peach and also Wang Fang (London and new York: Routledge, 2014), 154.

<3> Mencius, Mencius, IV. A, trans. D.C. Lau (Penguin Books, 1970), 120.

<4> Tao, “Confucian believed on the complimentary economy”, 157.

<5> Mencius, Mencius, II. B, 92.  

<6> Ibid, I. B, 65.

<7> Patricia Buckley Ebrey, “Confucian Teachings.” In Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook, ed. Note Coyle and also Patricia Ebrey (New York: The cost-free Press, 1993), 25.

<8> Ibid, 25-26.

<9> J.J.L Duyvendak, The publication of mr Shang (London, 1928), 154.

<10> Ibid.

<11> Han Fei Tzu, Han Fei Tzu: straightforward Writings, trans. Burton Watson (New York and London: Columbia university Press, 1964), 116.

<12> Xunzi, Xunzi: A Translation and Study that the complete Works, trans. John Knoblock, vol. II, publications 7-16 (Stanford: Stanford college Press, 1994), 121.

<13> Ibid.

<14> Ibid, 123.

<15> Paul Rakita Goldin, “Li Si: Chancellor of the Universe” in The human Tradition in Pre-modern China, ed. Kenneth J. Hammond (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly source Inc.), 16.

<16> Ibid, 20.

<17> Patricia Ebrey and Anne Walthall, East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and also Political History, third ed. (Wadsworth: Cengage Leanring, 2014), 42.

<18> Jia Yi, “The Faults that Qin”, in Sources that Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1, ed. Wilhelm Theodore De Bary, Irene Bloom, and also Joseph Adler (New York: Colombia university Press, 1999), 230.

<19> Ibid.

<20> Chao Cuo, “Memorial top top the encourage of Agriculture”, in in Sources of Chinese Tradition, Vol. 1, ed. William Theodore De Bary, Irene Bloom, and Joseph Adler (New York: Colombia university Press, 1999), 355.

<21> Ibid.

<22> Tao, “Confucian believed on the free economy”, 159.

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<23> Sima Qian, Records the the grand Historian, “The Biographies that the Money-Makers”, in Mao Tao, “Confucian believed on the free economy”, in The history of old Chinese financial Thought, ed. Cheng Lin, terrycloth Peach and also Wang Fang (London and brand-new York: Routledge, 2014), 160.

Written by: Conner PetaWritten at: college of LethbridgeWritten for: Dr. Gideon FujiwaraDate written: November 2017