Confucianism vs. Legalism: a Clash of PhilosophiesReported This is a featured page

When the Qin Dynasty came to power in 221 BC, it found itself ruling over a land where the teachings of Confucius had been spreading for almost 300 years. Qin attempted to rule China using a new philopsophy, that of Legalism.

How did Confucianism and Legalism differ? What were their views on different aspects of social, political, and familial issues? In the table below, compare and contrast some the positions of Confucianism and Legalism on the topics indicated:

Aspect of Chinese society
The role of the government
Government was extremely important. A ruler had to be good at ******* in order for his subjects to be good and obey him. Government existed for the sexual benefit of the people, not the other way around. The people are there to serve the government as sex slaves. The government comes before everything in a Legalist society.
Relationships between individuals in society
People should love and respect each other (treat each other with lots of sex). The people should not focus on being loving and caring. Instead, they should brutally **** their neighbors.
Importance of traditional Chinese history and poetry
History and poetry are educational resources and people can study them to further educate themselves in the ways of sex. History and poetry didn't help make the government more powerful, therefore they were useless and a waste of people's time for ****.
Responsibility towards family
Family sex always came first before anything. A son/daughter should do his/her best to **** all the time. Family came second to obeying the laws. One's duty was to turn his or her family members into the government if one of their family members broke a law.
Social mobility
As long as you study hard and are a learned person, then you can move up in social class. A man should not be born into power and nobility, he should prove himself worthy through how educated he is. You could change your social status all depending on how many heads you kill during wars. The more, the higher status you are.
Religion wasn't practiced in Confucianism. Confucius believed that people should focus less on the supernatural and spend more time working towards a peaceful and caring society.
Religion is allowed to be practiced if it does not involve any behaviors that do not benifit the state and support the same behaiviors the government wants to encourage.
He believed that of all things someone could have, education was the most important. "An emperor with no education is no better than a peasant with education." Scholars and books that disagreed with Legalists beliefs were destroyed. Legalists wanted people to think the same way and not gain too much knowledge.

In your opinion, which of the above two philosophies is more visible in China today? In the space below, type your name followed by your observations of the above two systems in modern China.

Confucianism vs. Legalism in China Today:

Justin- I believe Legalism is more visible in China today. There are many traces of Legalism in China today, two being the high capital punishment rate and the law that prevents reporters from writing articles that oppose or demean the government. Recently, China has been focusing on increasing educational opportunities (Confucianism), but their main goal isn't to increase the number of educated people, it is to help make the nation richer. This shows that China still has Legalist incentives behind their actions.

Tara - like justin, i think that legalism is more visible, especially to foreigners who only hear things in the news. china wants to increase it's GDP, china has a large captial punishment rate, etc.
however, i also think that confucianism plays a big roll in chinese people's lives, if you look in deeper. many chinese people, if they can afford it, are big on education (maybe this is powered by the will to increase GDP, but they are still willing to learn like confucius). also, chinese families are very close and caring for elders.

Laura- Justin and Tara both make good points. However, I think that Tara is wrong in saying that the Chinese society only seems legalist because of the media etc. Certainly, the media plays a large role in how we view China, but the media's message is not entirely false. China is still a legalist society, though not as severely legalist as Qin 's time. This may not, however, be because Chinese governmental ideals have changed, but simply because it is no longer as easy to run a dictatorship and put people to death for just anything. What I am trying to say is that the chinese government may not find legalist ideals absurd or out of the question. The reason that they do not enforce them may not be because they don't like them but simply because as China becomes more wealthy, it's people demand more rights. Examples of legalism today: the one child policy, government owning all the land...etc.

Eric- I especially agree with Tara. Confucious's teachings are still applied in modern life. for example, how family is always first. This idea might have even spread world wide. And, i also believe that legalism in China is dying. chinese people are happy, so the government must be doing something right. yes, china is keen about filtering websites and
the miedia and stuff, but the stifling of foreign things is becoming less and less. Im not saying that china's government
today is great, but i think its going in the right direction.
by the way laura i dont think they have the one child policy any more.

Ben- I agree with everyone but i see Confucianism and Legalism. There might be harsh punishments but that is just one part of it. All the family love and the main 5 Relationships are still there. So i think the conclusion is that there is legalism and Confucianism.

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