Han Fei

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Han Fei (韓非) also known as Han Feizi (韓非子) (Warring States Period, ca. 280–233 BCE) was a Chinese philosopher and strategist.


  • The Law(道, Way) is Huge and Shapeless, its Moral extends everywhere.
    • 夫道者、弘大而無形,德者、覈理而普至。至於群生,斟酌用之,萬物皆盛,而不與其寧。
    • "More Power" (《揚權》)

"More Power" (《揚權》)[edit]

  • When all within the four seas have been put in their proper places, [the sage] sits in darkness to observe the light. When those to his left and right have taken their places, he opens the gate to face the world. He changes nothing, alters nothing, but acts with the two handles of reward and punishment, acts and never ceases: this is what is called walking the path of principle.
    • 四海既藏,道陰見陽。左右既立,開門而當。勿變勿易,與二俱行,行之不已,是謂履理也。
    • "Wielding Power", in Han Feizi: Basic Writings (2003)
  • In dealing with those who share his bed, the enlightened ruler may enjoy their beauty but should not listen to their special pleas...
    • from "The Eight Villanies", Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings, Columbia University Press, New York, 1996. Translated by Burton Watson.

"Appropriate Extent" (《有度》)[edit]

  • No state is forever strong or forever weak. If those who uphold the law are strong, the state will be strong; if they are weak, the state will be weak.
    • 國無常強,無常弱。奉法者強則國強,奉法者弱則國弱。
    • "On Having Standards", in Han Feizi: Basic Writings (2003)
  • A truly enlightened ruler uses the law to select men for him; he does not choose them himself. He uses the law to weigh their merits; he does not attempt to judge them for himself.
    • "On Having Standards", in Han Feizi: Basic Writings (2003)
  • Laws are the means of prohibiting error and ruling out selfish motives; strict penalties are the means of enforcing orders and disciplining inferiors. Authority should never reside in two places; the power of decree should never be open to joint use. If authority and power are shared with others, then all manner of abuse will become rife. If law does not command respect, then all the ruler’s actions will be endangered. If penalties are not enforced, then evil will never be surmounted.
    • "On Having Standards", in Han Feizi: Basic Writings (2003)

"The Way of the Ruler"[edit]

  • The way is the beginning of all beings and the measure of right and wrong.
    • from "The Way of the Ruler", Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings, Columbia University Press, New York. Translated by Burton Watson.
  • From your place of darkness observe the defects of others. See but do not appear to see; listen but do not seem to listen; know but do not let it be known that you know. When you perceive the trend of a man's words, do not change them, do not correct them, but examine them and compare them with the results.
  • Take hold of the handles of government carefully and grip them tightly. Destroy all hope, smash all intention of wresting them from you; allow no man to covet them.
    • "The Way of the Ruler", in Han Feizi: Basic Writings (2003)
  • Be immeasurably great, be unfathomably deep; make certain that names and results tally, examine laws and customs, punish those who act willfully, and the state will be without traitors.
    • "The Way of the Ruler", in Han Feizi: Basic Writings (2003)

"Facing South" (《南面》)[edit]

  • The way of the ruler is to make certain that, if what a minister says beforehand does not tally with what he says later, or what he says later does not tally with what he has said previously, then although he may have fulfilled his task with distinction, he is condemned to certain punishment. This is what it means to hold your subordinates responsible.
    • "Facing South", in Han Feizi: Basic Writings (2003)
  • To govern the state by law is to praise the right and blame the wrong.
    • from "Having Regulations—A Memorandum" in The Complete Works of Han Fei Tzu, Volume I, Arthur Probsthain, London. Translated by W.K. Liao.

See also[edit]

Social and political philosophy
Ideologies Anarchism ⦿ Aristocratic Radicalism (NietzscheBrandes...) ⦿ Autarchism ⦿ Ba'athism (• Aflaqal-AssadHussein) ⦿ Communism ⦿ (Neo-)Confucianism ⦿ Conservatism ⦿ Constitutionalism ⦿ Dark Enlightenment ⦿ Environmentalism ⦿ Fascism (• Islamo-Eco-Francoism...) vs. Nazism ⦿ Feminism (• Anarcha-RadicalGender-criticalSecond-wave...) ⦿ Formalism/(Neo-)cameralism ⦿ Freudo-Marxism ⦿ Gaddafism/Third International Theory ⦿ Legalism ⦿ Leninism/Vanguardism ⦿ Juche (• Kim Il-sungKim Jong IlKim Jong Un...) ⦿ Liberalism ⦿ Libertarianism/Laissez-faire Capitalism ⦿ Maoism ⦿ Marxism ⦿ Mohism ⦿ Republicanism ⦿ Social democracy ⦿ Socialism ⦿ Stalinism ⦿ Straussianism ⦿ Syndicalism ⦿ Xi Jinping thought ⦿ New Monasticism (• MacIntyreDreher...)
Modalities Absolutism vs. Social constructionism/Relativism ⦿ Autarky/Autonomy vs. Heteronomy ⦿ Authoritarianism/Totalitarianism ⦿ Colonialism vs. Imperialism ⦿ Communitarianism vs. Liberalism ⦿ Elitism vs. Populism/Majoritarianism/Egalitarianism ⦿ Individualism vs. Collectivism ⦿ Nationalism vs. Cosmopolitanism ⦿ Particularism vs. Universalism ⦿ Modernism/Progressivism vs. Postmodernism ⦿ Reactionism/Traditionalism vs. Futurism/Transhumanism
Concepts Alienation ⦿ Anarcho-tyranny ⦿ Anomie ⦿ Authority ⦿ Conquest's Laws of Politics ⦿ Duty ⦿ Eugenics ⦿ Elite ⦿ Elite theory ⦿ Emancipation ⦿ Equality ⦿ Freedom ⦿ Government ⦿ Hegemony ⦿ Hierarchy ⦿ Iron law of oligarchy ⦿ Justice ⦿ Law ⦿ Monopoly ⦿ Natural law ⦿ Noblesse oblige ⦿ Norms ⦿ Obedience ⦿ Peace ⦿ Pluralism ⦿ Polyarchy ⦿ Power ⦿ Propaganda ⦿ Property ⦿ Revolt ⦿ Rebellion ⦿ Revolution ⦿ Rights ⦿ Ruling class ⦿ Social contract ⦿ Social inequality ⦿ Society ⦿ State ⦿ Tocqueville effect ⦿ Totalitarian democracy ⦿ War ⦿ Utopia
Government Aristocracy ⦿ Autocracy ⦿ Bureaucracy ⦿ Dictatorship ⦿ Democracy ⦿ Meritocracy ⦿ Monarchy ⦿ Ochlocracy ⦿ Oligarchy ⦿ Plutocracy ⦿ Technocracy ⦿ Theocracy ⦿ Tyranny

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