Graduate studies at Western
Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy (forthcoming)
|Abstract||This essay argues that political realism is an effective heuristic for understanding The Book of Lord Shang ( Shangjun Shu 商君書), which it compares to the political thought of Machiavelli and Hobbes. It first lays out the premises of political realism as they emerge from this comparison: the real is the guiding heuristic of political realism; historical change is the fundamental condition; the nature of human beings is selfish but can also form customs favorable to political order. Based on these premises, the essay then discusses the major propositions of political realism: the purpose of central authority is to provide the multitude with the benefits of order and to reward the ruler; the benefits of order warrant the commission of cruel deeds, also called the reason of state in the West; legal and extra-legal actions are the means by which the central authority imposes order and counters contingency; punishment is the primary means to make the laws prevail. The essay closes with considering the question of whether a fully implemented realist order could put an end to historical change|
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