Han Fei, also Han Fei Zi, Han Feitzu and Han Fei Tzu
Fei, also Han Fei Zi, Han Feitzu and Han Fei Tzu
c. 280 B.C.
c. 233 B.C.
The law does not fawn on the noble; the string does not yield to the crooked. Whatever the law applies to, the wise cannot reject nor can the brave defy. Punishment for fault never skips ministers, reward for good never misses commoners. Therefore, to correct the faults of the high, to rebuke the vices of the low, to suppress disorders, to decide against mistakes, to subdue the arrogant, to straighten the crooked, and to unify the folkways of the masses, nothing could match the law. To warn the officials and overawe the people, to rebuke obscenity and danger, and to forbid falsehood and deceit, nothing could match penalty. If penalty is severe, the noble cannot discriminate against the humble. If law is definite, the superiors are esteemed and not violated. If the superiors are not violated, the sovereign will become strong and able to maintain the proper course of government. Such was the reason why the early kings esteemed legalism and handed it down to posterity. Should the lord of men discard law and practice selfishness, high and low would have no distinction. Hence to govern the state by law is to praise the right and blame the wrong.