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Han Feizi: Basic Writings

by Burton Watson

Trenchant, sophisticated, and cynical, Han Feizi has been read in every age and is still of interest today when people are more than ever concerned with the nature and use of power. Han Feizi (280?-233 B.C.), a prince of Han, was a representative of the Fa-chia, or Legalist, school of philosophy and produced the final and most readable exposition of its theories. His handbook for the ruler deals with the problems of strengthening and preserving the state, the way of the ruler, the use of power, and punishment and favor. Ironically, the ruler most influenced by Han Feizi, the king of Qin, eventually sent Han Feizi to prison, where he later committed suicide.

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