Han Feizi: Basic Writings

By Han Feizi; Burton Watson | Go to book overview

PRECAUTIONS WITHIN THE PALACE

(Section 17)

It is hazardous for the ruler of men to trust others, for he who trusts others will be controlled by others. Ministers have no bonds of flesh and blood which tie them to their ruler; it is only the force of circumstance which compels them to serve him. Hence those who act as ministers never for a moment cease trying to spy into their sovereign's mind, and yet the ruler of men sits above them in indolence and pride. That is why there are rulers in the world who face intimidation and sovereigns who are murdered. If the ruler puts too much trust in his son, then evil ministers will find ways to utilize the son for the accomplishment of their private schemes. Thus Li Dui, acting as aid to the king of Zhao, starved the Father of the Ruler to death.1 If the ruler puts too much trust in his consort, then evil ministers will find ways to utilize the consort for the accomplishment of their private schemes. Thus the actor Shi aided Lady Li to bring

1“Father of the Ruler” was a title assumed by King Wuling of Zhao when he abdicated in 291 B.C. in favor of his son, King Huiwen. In 294 B.c. his palace was surrounded by soldiers headed by the high minister Li Dui, and after some three months of confinement he died of starvation. Shiji 43.

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Han Feizi: Basic Writings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Outline of Early Chinese History vi
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • The Way of the Ruler 15
  • On Having Standards 21
  • The Two Handles 29
  • Wielding Power 1 35
  • The Eight Villainies 43
  • The Ten Faults 49
  • The Difficulties of Persuasion 1 73
  • Mr. He 81
  • Precautions within the Palace 85
  • In Facing South 1 91
  • The Five Vermin 97
  • Eminence in Learning 119
  • Index 131
  • Other Works in the Columbia Asian Studies Series 139
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