A comparative study
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Abstract: As we know, Hanfeizi is the most representative figure of the legist school. His ideas are best described in his book “Hanfeizi ”,in which he strongly advocated the importance of “law”, “means”, “force ” for an emperor to control his country. About one thousand years later, in Italy there was an politician named Machiavelli. In his famous book called “The Prince”, he adopted the same attitude with Hanfeizi towards how an emperor should rule his country. In this paper, the author tries to explore some similarities and some dissimilarities between the two great thinkers from the aspect of their background, their attitudes towards the nature and relationship of human beings and so on.


I Similarities in their backgrounds

   Hanfeizi (280BC_233BC) was born in the Spring and Autumn Period in Han state. At that time Han state was the most weakest state of the seven states. Hanfeizi ,who was much influenced by his teacher Xunzi and the Taoism, saw the political corruption1 in his country and put forward much useful advice to carry out reform.. Unfortunately the emperor of Han would not like to adopt his ideas and let his country wither2 away. However the emperor of Qinshihuang admired the talent of Hanfeizi and wanted to give him a position in Qin state. Although Qinshihuang finally killed Hanfeizi owing to listening to the unfaithful advice of Lisi., he ruled his country on the principles advocated by Hanfeizi. Until that time did the divived situation come to an end and the united central right come out.

Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy at a time when the country was in political upheaval3 . Italy was divided between four dominant4 city-states, and each of these was continually at the mercy of the stronger foreign governments of Europe. Since 1434 Florence was ruled by the wealthy Medici family. Their rule was temporarily interrupted by a reform movement, begun in 1494, in which the young Machiavelli became an important diplomat5. When the Medici family regained6 power in 1512 with the help of Spanish troops, Machiavelli was tortured and removed from public life. For the next 10 years he devoted7 himself to writing history, political philosophy, and even plays. He ultimately gained favor with the Medici family and was called back to public duty for the last two years of his life.  Machiavelli's greatest work is The Prince, written in 1513 and published after his death in 1532. The work immediately provoked controversy8 and was soon condemned9 by Pope Clement10 VIII. Its main theme is that princes should retain absolute control of their territories, and they should use any means of expediency11 to accomplish this end, including deceit. Scholars struggle over interpreting Machiavelli's precise point. In several section Machiavelli praises Caesar Borgia, a Spanish aristocrat12 who became a notorious and much despised tyrant13 of the Romagna region of northern Italy. During Machiavelli's early years as a diplomat, he was in contact with Borgia and witnessed Borgia's rule first hand. Does Machiavelli hold up Borgia as the model prince? Some readers initially14 saw The Prince as a satire15 on absolute rulers such as Borgia, which showed the repugnance16 of arbitrary power (thereby implying the importance of liberty). However, this theory fell apart when, in 1810, a letter by Machiavelli was discovered in which he reveals that he wrote The Prince to endear himself to the ruling Medici family in Florence. To liberate17 Italy from the influence of foreign governments, Machiavelli explains that strong indigenous18 governments are important, even if they are absolutist.

II Similarities in their attitudes reflected in their works

1.On force

  From the experience Machiavelli learned that weak countries had no diplomatic relationship with other counties. In his work he put forward that the weakest thing in the world was the power that was exaggerated. He tried to persuade the emperor to make a strong army, which would become the solid foundation of any course. While Hanfeizi held the same opinion with Machiavelli, he said that the most important task for an emperor was to develop his country in many ways such as increasing the production of agriculture, establish clear encouragement and punishment laws, have a forceful army under his control.

2. On humans nature and their relationship
Though humanists of Machiavelli's time believed that an individual had much to offer to the well being of the state, Machiavelli was quick to mock human nature. Humanists believed that "An individual only grows to maturity- both intellectually and morally- through participation19' in the life of the state."
 Machiavelli generally distrusted citizens, stating that "...in time of adversity, when the state is in need of it's citizens there are few to be found.” Machiavelli further went on to question the loyalty20 of the citizens and advised the Prince that "...because men a wretched creatures who would not keep their word to you, you need keep your word to them."
  The same to Hanfeizi. Under the influence of his teacher Xunzi, Hanfeizi adhered to the principle that human nature was bad. And his developed his ideas to the enumerated21 kingdom which he thought was the heaven of the earth. He believed that human beings were driven by the greed for profit. We can see some trace in his famous saying: strict mother has kind children, while kind mother has brute22 children.
  Both of them believed that the relationship among human beings was a kind of naked interest_oriented relationship. They make use of each other, not believe in others, and would try every means to reach ones aims.
3.On the image of emperor.
  In The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli presents a view of governing : state that is drastically different from that of humanists of his time. Machiavelli believes the ruling Prince should be the sole authority determining every aspect of the state and put in effect a policy, which would serve his best interests.  These interests were gaining, maintaining, and expanding his political power. His understanding of human nature was a complete contradiction of what humanists believed and
taught.  Machiavelli strongly promoted a secular23 society and felt morality was not necessary but in fact stood in the way of an effectively governed principality. Though in come cases Machiavelli's suggestions seem harsh and immoral24 one must remember that these views
were derived25 out of concern Italy's unstable26 political condition. If a prince can not be both feared and loved, Machiavelli suggests, it would be better for him to be feared bey the citizens within his own principality. He makes the generalization27 that men are, "...ungrateful, fickle28, liars29, and deceivers, they shun30 danger and are greedy for profit; while you treat them well they are yours." He characterizes men as being self centered and not willing to act in the best interest of the state,"[and when the prince] is in danger they turn against[him]." Machiavelli reinforces the prince's need to be feared by stating: Machiavelli postulates31 that a prince must also deceive those whoattempt to flatter him.
  In choosing wise men for his government and allowing those the freedom to speak the truth to him, and then only concerning matters on which he asks their opinion, and nothing else. But he should also question them toughly and listen to what they say; then he should make
up his own mind.
  Machiavelli actively33 promoted a secular form of politics.  He laid aside the Medievalli conception "of the state as a necessary creation for humankinds spiritual, material, and social well-being34." In such a state,"a ruler was justified35 in his exercise of political power only
if it contributed to the common good of the people he served, and the ethical36 side of a princes activity...ought to be based on Christian37 moral principles...."
  Machiavelli believed a secular form of government to be a more realistic type. His views were to the benefit of the prince, in helping38 him maintain power rather than to serve to the well being of the citizens. Machiavelli promoted his belief by stating: The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously40 in every way necessarily comes to grief among those who are not virtuous39. Therefore,
if a prince wants to maintain his rule he must learn not to be sovirtuous, and to make use of this or not according to need.
Hanfeizi also had the same attitude .He advocated his ideas about the “law”, ”mean”, ”force”. Many emperors in the Chinese history adopted his ideas in order to rule their countries. He believed that as an emperor ,one should know the dividing line of the encouragement and punishment and use these them wisely. The emperor should learn to get rid of the opponents and use law to rule the country so that all the citizen would know what they should do and what they should not.

III Their different result 

Hanfeizis ideas have led our country to the absolutism, while Machiavellis ideas became the
resources of the western democracy. Their ideas were about the same, why their result had so much difference? This was because that the feudality system lasted for almost two thousand years.While after Machiavelli there existed many philosophers in the west to discuss the validity of the absolute monarchy41. They changed with the tides, while on the other hand we Chinese kept the old form and too outdated42.


1 corruption TzCxn     
  • The people asked the government to hit out against corruption and theft.人民要求政府严惩贪污盗窃。
  • The old man reviled against corruption.那老人痛斥了贪污舞弊。
2 wither dMVz1     
  • She grows as a flower does-she will wither without sun.她象鲜花一样成长--没有太阳就会凋谢。
  • In autumn the leaves wither and fall off the trees.秋天,树叶枯萎并从树上落下来。
3 upheaval Tp6y1     
  • It was faced with the greatest social upheaval since World War Ⅱ.它面临第二次世界大战以来最大的社会动乱。
  • The country has been thrown into an upheaval.这个国家已经陷入动乱之中。
4 dominant usAxG     
  • The British were formerly dominant in India.英国人从前统治印度。
  • She was a dominant figure in the French film industry.她在法国电影界是个举足轻重的人物。
5 diplomat Pu0xk     
  • The diplomat threw in a joke, and the tension was instantly relieved.那位外交官插进一个笑话,紧张的气氛顿时缓和下来。
  • He served as a diplomat in Russia before the war.战前他在俄罗斯当外交官。
6 regained 51ada49e953b830c8bd8fddd6bcd03aa     
复得( regain的过去式和过去分词 ); 赢回; 重回; 复至某地
  • The majority of the people in the world have regained their liberty. 世界上大多数人已重获自由。
  • She hesitated briefly but quickly regained her poise. 她犹豫片刻,但很快恢复了镇静。
7 devoted xu9zka     
  • He devoted his life to the educational cause of the motherland.他为祖国的教育事业贡献了一生。
  • We devoted a lengthy and full discussion to this topic.我们对这个题目进行了长时间的充分讨论。
8 controversy 6Z9y0     
  • That is a fact beyond controversy.那是一个无可争论的事实。
  • We ran the risk of becoming the butt of every controversy.我们要冒使自己在所有的纷争中都成为众矢之的的风险。
9 condemned condemned     
adj. 被责难的, 被宣告有罪的 动词condemn的过去式和过去分词
  • He condemned the hypocrisy of those politicians who do one thing and say another. 他谴责了那些说一套做一套的政客的虚伪。
  • The policy has been condemned as a regressive step. 这项政策被认为是一种倒退而受到谴责。
10 clement AVhyV     
  • A clement judge reduced his sentence.一位仁慈的法官为他减了刑。
  • The planet's history contains many less stable and clement eras than the holocene.地球的历史包含着许多不如全新世稳定与温和的地质时期。
11 expediency XhLzi     
  • The government is torn between principle and expediency. 政府在原则与权宜之间难于抉择。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • It was difficult to strike the right balance between justice and expediency. 在公正与私利之间很难两全。 来自辞典例句
12 aristocrat uvRzb     
  • He was the quintessential english aristocrat.他是典型的英国贵族。
  • He is an aristocrat to the very marrow of his bones.他是一个道道地地的贵族。
13 tyrant vK9z9     
  • The country was ruled by a despotic tyrant.该国处在一个专制暴君的统治之下。
  • The tyrant was deaf to the entreaties of the slaves.暴君听不到奴隶们的哀鸣。
14 initially 273xZ     
  • The ban was initially opposed by the US.这一禁令首先遭到美国的反对。
  • Feathers initially developed from insect scales.羽毛最初由昆虫的翅瓣演化而来。
15 satire BCtzM     
  • The movie is a clever satire on the advertising industry.那部影片是关于广告业的一部巧妙的讽刺作品。
  • Satire is often a form of protest against injustice.讽刺往往是一种对不公正的抗议形式。
16 repugnance oBWz5     
  • He fought down a feelings of repugnance.他抑制住了厌恶感。
  • She had a repugnance to the person with whom she spoke.她看不惯这个和她谈话的人。
17 liberate p9ozT     
  • They did their best to liberate slaves.他们尽最大能力去解放奴隶。
  • This will liberate him from economic worry.这将消除他经济上的忧虑。
18 indigenous YbBzt     
  • Each country has its own indigenous cultural tradition.每个国家都有自己本土的文化传统。
  • Indians were the indigenous inhabitants of America.印第安人是美洲的土著居民。
19 participation KS9zu     
  • Some of the magic tricks called for audience participation.有些魔术要求有观众的参与。
  • The scheme aims to encourage increased participation in sporting activities.这个方案旨在鼓励大众更多地参与体育活动。
20 loyalty gA9xu     
  • She told him the truth from a sense of loyalty.她告诉他真相是出于忠诚。
  • His loyalty to his friends was never in doubt.他对朋友的一片忠心从来没受到怀疑。
21 enumerated 837292cced46f73066764a6de97d6d20     
v.列举,枚举,数( enumerate的过去式和过去分词 )
  • A spokesperson enumerated the strikers' demands. 发言人列数罢工者的要求。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He enumerated the capitals of the 50 states. 他列举了50个州的首府。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
22 brute GSjya     
  • The aggressor troops are not many degrees removed from the brute.侵略军简直象一群野兽。
  • That dog is a dangerous brute.It bites people.那条狗是危险的畜牲,它咬人。
23 secular GZmxM     
  • We live in an increasingly secular society.我们生活在一个日益非宗教的社会。
  • Britain is a plural society in which the secular predominates.英国是个世俗主导的多元社会。
24 immoral waCx8     
  • She was questioned about his immoral conduct toward her.她被询问过有关他对她的不道德行为的情况。
  • It is my belief that nuclear weapons are immoral.我相信使核武器是不邪恶的。
25 derived 6cddb7353e699051a384686b6b3ff1e2     
vi.起源;由来;衍生;导出v.得到( derive的过去式和过去分词 );(从…中)得到获得;源于;(从…中)提取
  • Many English words are derived from Latin and Greek. 英语很多词源出于拉丁文和希腊文。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He derived his enthusiasm for literature from his father. 他对文学的爱好是受他父亲的影响。 来自《简明英汉词典》
26 unstable Ijgwa     
  • This bookcase is too unstable to hold so many books.这书橱很不结实,装不了这么多书。
  • The patient's condition was unstable.那患者的病情不稳定。
27 generalization 6g4xv     
  • This sweeping generalization is the law of conservation of energy.这一透彻的概括就是能量守恒定律。
  • The evaluation of conduct involves some amount of generalization.对操行的评价会含有一些泛泛之论。
28 fickle Lg9zn     
  • Fluctuating prices usually base on a fickle public's demand.物价的波动往往是由于群众需求的不稳定而引起的。
  • The weather is so fickle in summer.夏日的天气如此多变。
29 liars ba6a2311efe2dc9a6d844c9711cd0fff     
说谎者( liar的名词复数 )
  • The greatest liars talk most of themselves. 最爱自吹自擂的人是最大的说谎者。
  • Honest boys despise lies and liars. 诚实的孩子鄙视谎言和说谎者。
30 shun 6EIzc     
  • Materialists face truth,whereas idealists shun it.唯物主义者面向真理,唯心主义者则逃避真理。
  • This extremist organization has shunned conventional politics.这个极端主义组织有意避开了传统政治。
31 postulates a2e60978b0d3ff36cce5760c726afc83     
v.假定,假设( postulate的第三人称单数 )
  • They proclaimed to be eternal postulates of reason and justice. 他们宣称这些原则是理性和正义的永恒的要求。 来自辞典例句
  • The school building programme postulates an increase in educational investment. 修建校舍的计画是在增加教育经费的前提下拟定的。 来自辞典例句
32 makeup 4AXxO     
  • Those who failed the exam take a makeup exam.这次考试不及格的人必须参加补考。
  • Do you think her beauty could makeup for her stupidity?你认为她的美丽能弥补她的愚蠢吗?
33 actively lzezni     
  • During this period all the students were actively participating.在这节课中所有的学生都积极参加。
  • We are actively intervening to settle a quarrel.我们正在积极调解争执。
34 well-being Fe3zbn     
  • He always has the well-being of the masses at heart.他总是把群众的疾苦挂在心上。
  • My concern for their well-being was misunderstood as interference.我关心他们的幸福,却被误解为多管闲事。
35 justified 7pSzrk     
  • She felt fully justified in asking for her money back. 她认为有充分的理由要求退款。
  • The prisoner has certainly justified his claims by his actions. 那个囚犯确实已用自己的行动表明他的要求是正当的。
36 ethical diIz4     
  • It is necessary to get the youth to have a high ethical concept.必须使青年具有高度的道德观念。
  • It was a debate which aroused fervent ethical arguments.那是一场引发强烈的伦理道德争论的辩论。
37 Christian KVByl     
  • They always addressed each other by their Christian name.他们总是以教名互相称呼。
  • His mother is a sincere Christian.他母亲是个虔诚的基督教徒。
38 helping 2rGzDc     
  • The poor children regularly pony up for a second helping of my hamburger. 那些可怜的孩子们总是要求我把我的汉堡包再给他们一份。
  • By doing this, they may at times be helping to restore competition. 这样一来, 他在某些时候,有助于竞争的加强。
39 virtuous upCyI     
  • She was such a virtuous woman that everybody respected her.她是个有道德的女性,人人都尊敬她。
  • My uncle is always proud of having a virtuous wife.叔叔一直为娶到一位贤德的妻子而骄傲。
40 virtuously a2098b8121e592ae79a9dd81bd9f0548     
  • Pro31:29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 箴31:29说,才德的女子很多,惟独你超过一切。
41 monarchy e6Azi     
  • The monarchy in England plays an important role in British culture.英格兰的君主政体在英国文化中起重要作用。
  • The power of the monarchy in Britain today is more symbolical than real.今日英国君主的权力多为象徵性的,无甚实际意义。
42 outdated vJTx0     
  • That list of addresses is outdated,many have changed.那个通讯录已经没用了,许多地址已经改了。
  • Many of us conform to the outdated customs laid down by our forebears.我们许多人都遵循祖先立下的过时习俗。