Virtue Politics and Political Leadership: A Confucian Rejoinder to Hanfeizi

Asian Philosophy 22 (2):177-197 (2012)

Abstract

In the Confucian tradition, the ideal government is called "benevolent government" (ren zheng), central to which is the ruler's parental love toward his people who he deems as his children. Hanfeizi criticized this seemingly innocent political idea by pointing out that (1) not only is the state not a family but even within the family parental love is short of making the children orderly and (2) ren as love inevitably results in the ruin of the state because it confuses what is right/meritorious with what is not, thus disrupts the legal system. In this paper, I defend Confucian virtue politics against Hanfeizi's criticisms. I argue that by failing to grasp the complex nature of ren that encompasses both emotion (ren as love) and moral virtue (ren as filiality), Hanfeizi also failed to understand the actual process in which the ruler's parental love is extended to the people

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Sungmoon Kim
City University of Hong Kong

Citations of this work

Han Fei's Enlightened Ruler.Alejandro Bárcenas - 2013 - Asian Philosophy 23 (3):236-259.
Han Feizi’s Genealogical Arguments.Lee Wilson - 2022 - In Eirik Lang Harris & Henrique Schneider (eds.), Adventures in Chinese Realism: Classic Philosophy Applied to Contemporary Issues. Albany, NY, USA: SUNY Press. pp. 171–193.

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