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Siblings Disguised As Rivals: Kindred Relationship Between Confucianism And Legalism

703 words - 3 pages

Siblings Disguised as Rivals: Kindred Relationship Between Confucianism and Legalism
Legalism is linked to laws while Confucianism is married to morals. The two are often contrasted with each other in regards to their different means of achieving harmony in society. Legalism, as its name suggests, is very much concerned with achieving order in society through laws. To elaborate, strict rules are supplemented with rewards and punishments—people were given heavy incentives to obey the laws and even heavier penalties for disregarding them (Ebrey Textbook, 36). To the contrary, Confucianism is rooted in the ideal that a just society is in need of a moral ruler who will influence his people to ...view middle of the document...

“The gentleman is exalted and yet not proud” (Ebrey Sourcebook, 19). To Confucianists, the importance lies in living up to one's own standards and being satisfied with oneself—not with what other people think, and to Legalists, flaunting one's achievements to the world is considered shameful.
Other common boundaries between Confucianism and Legalism include social status and wealth, which are often very closely linked to the previously mentioned ideas of pride and humility.
To continue, Han Feizi claims that society considers people who work hard, but have very little, to lack sufficient ability (Ebrey Sourcebook, 35). Similarly, Confucianists think that poverty and low position in society should not be averted if it can only be done by avoiding “The Way,” which essentially means to live morally (Ebrey Sourcebook, 20). Neither school of thought denounces wealth or a high social class; however, for Confucianists, riches becomes a vice if it impedes one's ability to see clearly and pursue morality, and for Legalists, poverty and low social status can be respectable if a person is diligent.
Apart from humility,...

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