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Han Fei(280 B. C.~233 B. C.), a native of the Stateof Han and a former student of Xun Zi, synthesizedthe thoughts of the Legalist School of the pre-Qinperiod.
His doctrines served as the theoretical basis for theState of Qin's unification of China and theestablishment of a feudal and autocratic empire.Han Fei's entire work is collected in Han Feizi, a bookcontaining 55 chapters.
Han Fei adopted and developed a progressive social and historical view put forward by earlierlegalists (Shang Yang, for instance) and further proposed his notions of social developmentand historical evolution. He pointed out that "one does not have to follow ancient practices inorder to govern" and "as conditions in the world change, different principles should be appliedaccordingly." He also held that the impetus of social development lies in the materialfoundation and inner conflicts of the society.
Han Fei's idea of ruling a state involves three concepts: fa (the laws), shu (techniques) and shi(power). An intelligent ruler must have shu(techniques) to carry out fa (laws), and he musthave shi (power) to use the techniques and enforce the laws.
Fa, above all, is the most fundamental concept of the three, though they arecomplementary in function.
Like Xun Zi, Han Fei denied the correspondence between human and the universe and believedthat the change of natural world is rule-governed. He also argued that one should “deal witheverything by following their generic and specific rules", with which one could actively exerttheir talents and abilities.
Epistemologically, Han Fei adopted the method of "investigation and verification" and objectedto idealist apriorism. Right and wrong can only be distinguished by abiding by the doctrine of“holding the actualities responsible for their names".
In debates with people from other schools, Han Fei tended to use the law of contradiction andlaw of excluded middle to expose the contradictions in their arguments.
He believed that contradictory ideas and things cannot coexist, but the contradictory partiesare interchangeable.
Thus Han Fei attached importance to the conflict between the contradictory parties andfurther exaggerated this conflict, resulting in his belief that violence and power are thepanacea of everything.