Graduate studies at Western
Asian Philosophy 11 (3):151 – 159 (2001)
|Abstract||Chapter 49 of the Han Feizi, entitled 'Wudu' ('The Five Vermin'), includes one of the earliest discussions in Chinese history of the concepts of gong and si: Han Fei (d. 233 B.C.) takes si to mean 'acting in one's own interest'. Gong is simply what opposes si. 'Acting in one's own interest' is not inherently reprehensible in Han Fei's view; but a ruler must remember why ministers propose their policies: they are concerned only with enriching themselves, and look upon the ruler as nothing more than a resource to be exploited in their quest for material aggrandizement. The interests of the ministers and the ruler are diametrically opposed. Ministers <span class='Hi'>hope</span> for a comfortable career; a ruler must weed out the posers in his search for those rare and invaluable adjuvants who are genuinely capable of administering the state. In short, if si is the self-interest of the minister, gong is the self-interest of the ruler.|
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