Lead the people by laws and regulate them by punishments, and the people
will simply try to keep out of jail, but will have no sense of shame. Lead the
people by virtueand they will have a sense of shame and moreover will become
good. This was the teaching of Confucius. Confucius was the main influence of
a way of life called Confucianism. Around this same time two other schools of
They were called Legalism and Daoism. All three were Chinese
philosophies that were thought to be the best way to rule and achieve order in
their society. Confucianism believed that a rulers job was to set a good
example, and not order. Since people were thought of as naturally good, they
would follow in the right path based on their own conscience. Legalism was a
more harsh way of ruling, led by Hanfeizi. They thought people were evil, and
needed strict laws and punishment to keep them in line.
Daoism was very
different from either of the other two. It was led by Laozi, who taught that the
best kind of government was one who governed the least. They allowed things to
simply take their natural course and work themselves out. Which of the three
schools of thought is indeed the most effective way to obtain order with their
Legalism is thought by many people to be the only way to achieve order.
However, all that their harsh laws and punishments do is make the government
more feared. It is impossible for a society to be a success when the entire
community despises the government it lives under.
This in turn would only make
the people rebel against it even more, instead of its original intention of
scaring them into behaving. People are more likely to follow something they
believe in, than something they are forced to believe in. Governing people by
fear may work for awhile, but people would eventually begin to question its
strength and go against it. Not only would Legalism not be the most effective
way to rule, but it is also simply unjust. To live in a place where torture was
common seems cruel.
There is also such a thing as being too lenient when it comes to ruling.
Daoism takes the other extreme as opposed to Legalism. Daoists believe that
things need to take their natural course, and be unified with nature. Unlike
Confucianism, Daoism does not even take the time to show concern followers. They
would rather let them deal with their own problems.
Although it is good to let people make their own decisions in their life,
they also need some direction to follow. Everyone has reached a state of
confusion at some point in their life.
Making decisions is often a very
difficult task, and simply letting your life be one with nature will not always
produce the best outcome.
Confucianism combines the good characteristics from both Daoism and Legalism.
Instead of living their lives through extremities, they take a much milder
approach. They live down the middle way, as Buddha once discovered was the key
to life. Confucianism also allows people to make their own decisions, but still
has a form of ruling to guide people and influence their decisions to be wise
and thought out. Since the Confucius believed that goodness lies at the base of
everyone, they trusted the people to use their own conscience to keep them out
of trouble and following the laws.
They did not need to rely on harsh punishment
and torture as the Legalists did. Instead, they led by example. A model ruler
would be assured of a model populace.
Confucianism would work, because it not only provides guidance, but it
provides the education to teach people the right way to do things. This enables
them not only to be forced to act in the right way, but also to think in this
way. Confucius says that, By nature, men are pretty much alike.
learning and practice that set them apart. This is just what they helped do.
Confucius promoted education heavily, believing that it made good people. Since
Confucius did believe that people were overall good, they trusted people to use
their own conscience to keep them out of trouble and following the laws. They
did not need to rely on harsh punishment as the Legalists did. Some would argue
that not everyone has a good conscience, and this practice would not work.
However, education and proper teaching could get anyone to see .