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Unformatted text preview: The Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.E.) is sometimes considered to embody in practice, the principles of Legalism. Give four examples of concrete policies put into force by the First Emperor and relate them directly to the advice on statecraft found in the writings of the philosopher Han Feizi . What do you consider to be the two or three greatest weaknesses of Legalism which contributed to the collapse of the Qin? As Qin Shihuang consolidated his rule of China, he put Han Feizi's ideals of Legalism into full use. Among many of his policies, four stood out. Following Legalism, Emperor Qin burned books and buried intellectuals, imposed heavy handed laws, got rid of nobles and courtiers, and elevated himself as Emperor. Ironically, the tough Legalist policies associated with his rule also brought the end of his dynasty. In Han Feizi's view of Legalism, he dictates the Five Vermins of the State: Educated people, philosophers, mercenaries, nobles and courtiers, and merchants. Emperor Qin took notice of this, and upon hearing the advice of his minister Li Si, he issued the command to burn all intellectual books in the imperial archives other than the History of Qin, and books on agriculture, medicine, and divination. Li Si told him that the newly conquered states are embellishing the past, and the various schools of thought are criticizing his rule. Because Legalist principles holds that intellectuals are a threat to the power of the ruler, Qin Shihuang decided to burn the books. At first many scholars did not burn their books, but when Qin Shihuang buried 460 scholars alive and set an example, the book burning commenced. Thus came to an end the golden age of thought in China. In doing so, Emperor Qin made sure that his people remain uneducated, and therefore easy to rule and manipulate. Since Emperor Qin became the first emperor of a unified China, he felt the need to meticulously govern his empire. Following legalist policies, he first gave himself a new title, Huangdi, as a way to elevate himself above all previous rulers. This way all power was to be his and his only. He made sure his officials are fully under his grasp so that they can safely rule the people. As legalism dictates: “a ruler should speak in opposites and act in contradictories.” meaning the ruler should keep his officials guessing and testing them. Qin Shihuang used this to t rue effect: he used authority over virtue. As he governed his new empire, he got rid of of the old feudal systems of ranks and nobility. In doing so, he ordered all the previous royal families to move to the new capital at Xianyang, this way he made sure that possible regional powers would not emerge. To replace them, he sent officials to the new prefectures to govern the people. He had only 3 officials, the military, the civil and the overseer. The overseer was to report to the Imperial Court on a regular basis and provoke the military and the civil. In centralizing his rule and propagating a strong powerful government, Qin Shihuang banned local...
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This note was uploaded on 03/15/2010 for the course ARC131, EA ARC132 taught by Professor Richards during the Spring '10 term at University of Toronto.
- Spring '10