Being Worthy of Persuasion: Political Communication in the Han Feizi

China Media Research 10 (4):29-38 (2014)

Kevin DeLapp
Converse College
This paper examines the attitudes toward political persuasion at work in the writings of Han Feizi (280-233 BCE). Particular attention is given to differentiating Han Feizi's thought from Western analogs under which it has suffered hermeneutically, especially comparisons with Plato's so-called "noble lie." After probing some of the psycho-social assumptions of ancient Greek versus Chinese political discourse, Han Feizi's own view is reconstructed, according to which practices of deception and secrecy are permissible under specific moral and political conditions. It is argued that not only is the account which emerges a more charitable interpretation of Han Feizi, but also that it is independently attractive as a helpful and realistic lens through which to view contemporary anxieties concerning political discourse and transparency.
Keywords Han Fei  Persuasion
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