Social Justice in the Ancient World

By K. D. Irani; Morris Silver | Go to book overview
on justice and is not related to what I am concerned with here. Also, "reciprocity" is generally used as a translation of Confucius' shu ( Chan 1963: 16-17). Here I am using reciprocity in a broader sense.
27.
I have benefited from discussions with Professor Cho-yun Hsu of the University of Pittsburgh on this point.
28.
Kung-chuan Hsiao often equates the idea of equality with democracy. This is of course a useful but somewhat simplistic assumption. Mencius has been labeled as the first Chinese theoretician of democracy (because of his idea of legitimate regicide), but Mencius did not really enter a systematic examination of equality within the context of the political process.
29.
Han Fei tzu's elevation of law and justice relied exclusively on law (esp. coded law), and his denunciation of "humanity and righteousness" does not exactly mean that he refuted the Aristotelian notion of the "equity principle." In a sense, systematic investigation of this issue of "equity principle" was never carried out in the Chinese intellectual tradition, although in practice it is clear that discretion by officials executing the law was so great that one can almost see that the law and, hence, justice, was to be interpreted totally at the discretion of the officials. To me, this is precisely because the equity conception was not adequately and sufficiently explored and defined.
30.
The following is a telling example: "Once, when Ch'in had a great famine, Marquis Ying petitioned His Majesty and said: 'The grass, vegetables, acorns, dates, and chestnuts in the Five [imperial] Parks are sufficient to save the people. May Your Majesty give them out?' In reply King Chao-hsiang said: 'In accordance with the law of our country the people shall be rewarded for merits and punished for crimes. Now if I give out the vegetables and fruits of the Five Parks, I will in so doing reward men of merit and no merit equally. To be sure, to reward men of merit and no merit equally leads to disorder'" ( Han Fei tzu, 35 (Wai-ch'u shuo, yu hsia); Han Fei tzu 1974: 771; Liao 1959: 126).
31.
See an interesting discussion of the meaning of "love" as used by Mo-tzu in Schwartz 1985: 145-51.
32.
Hsiao 1979: 322-33. Hsiao clearly thought that Kuan-tzu was simply addressing the issue of how to strengthen the ruler's control and riches ("enrich the state," equating ruler with state). In any case, Kuan-tzu laid out a comprehensive treatise on how best to "give people ease and happiness," to "enrich and ennoble them," to "give them security and to preserve them," etc. Not counting the purpose of such policy considerations, Kuan-tzu's social philosophy was not very dissimilar to that of Mencius and Hsün-tzu.
33.
There has been a lot of speculation, certainly not without foundation, that this paragraph is an interpolation of non-Confucian writing or at least does not reflect orthodox Confucian social thinking. Still, the Confucian ideal world is premised on the total integration of individuals into the overall welfare system, each contributing his share.
34.
"Justice" is not found as an index item in any of the four major general works on Chinese thought: Wm. Theodore de Bary ( 1963), Chan ( 1963), Hsiao ( 1979), and Schwartz ( 1985). In Creel ( 1970), we do find a whole chapter dealing with Western Chou (ca. 1100-771 B.C.) "justice" in the context of a discussion on government. But Creel's interest is more in the administrative side of the law.

REFERENCES

Alford William. ( 1986). "The Inscrutable Occidental? Implications of Roberto Unger's Uses and Abuses of the Chinese Past". Texas Law Review, 64, 915-72.

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