Han Feizi: Basic Writings

By Han Feizi; Burton Watson | Go to book overview

IN FACING SOUTH1

(Section 18)

This is where rulers go wrong: having assigned certain ministers to office, they then try to use unassigned men to check the power of the assigned. They justify this policy by claiming that the interests of the assigned and the unassigned will be mutually inimical, but in fact the rulers find themselves falling under the power of the unassigned, for the men they are trying to check today are the men whom they used in previous days to check others. If the rulers cannot make the law clear and use it to restrain the authority of the high ministers, then they will have no means to win the confidence of the people at large.

If the ruler of men discards the law, and instead attempts to use some of his ministers to control others, then those who love each other will band together in groups for mutual praise, and those who hate each other will form cliques for mutual slander. With praise and slander striving to shout each other down, the ruler will become bewildered and confused.

Those who act as ministers believe that, unless they can somehow establish a fine reputation or persuade someone to make a

1I.e., being a ruler; see above, p. 24, n. 5.

-91-

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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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