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Chinese Rhetoric Han Feizi

Page history last edited by bwang8@student.gsu.edu 8 years, 10 months ago

 

韩非(子)/Han Feizi/Han Feitzu (ca. 280BC-233 BC)

 

Simplified Chinese "子" is used to show respect or honor to great masters in the Chinese language. Its pinyin form is "zi", while it is usually spelled as "tzu" by foreigners. 

 

Han Fei, born in Han State (today's Xinzheng city in Henan Province) in the late Warring States period, was one of the royal princes in the State of Han. He is the greatest Legalist in China.

 

The Chinese historical book written by Si Maqian (司马迁) recorded Han Fei as a master of "the fairness of judicial judgement and laws". Together with Li Si, Han Fei is the student of Men Zi/ Mentzu.

 

Although Han Fei is a stammer, his writings is brilliant and Li Si pitied himself as inferior to Han in the writing domain.

 

Most works of Han Fei is collected in the book "Han Feizi". He is the materialistic philosopher in the late period of the Warring States. Ancient Chinese considered him as a conspirator because most of his books are about conspiracies.

 

Han Fei saw the weakening of Han State and petitioned many times to the king of Han State so as to solve the problems such as lack of legalism, the ineffectiveness of officials and so on. However, his assersions were not adopted by the king. Han Fei considered this as dishonest officials goes better than honest officials and retreated himself to writings.

 

Among Han Fei's writings, the most relevant one to rhetoric is "The Difficulty of Persuasion". As at the time period of Warring States, Han Fei, as other lobbysits, was to persuade the kings to rule the people according to the lobbyists' political ideals. This piece of writing focuses on the mind of the audience in the process of persuasion due to the political background of the author's time. The importance of the audience is also of Western concern, though the Chinese concern of the audience seems more serious and will lead to certain consequences due to the ancient and present political status quo. Han uses a lot of cause and effect chain reasoning in processing his argumentation. Although Western logic also uses this cause and effect chain reasoning, the syllogism is a main preference in speaking and writing. Chinese logic or way of thinking is primarily cause and effect in spite of the modern introduction of Western science and democracy, as well as the syllogistic logic or the Western way of thinking or argumentation. People learned how to use syllogism in various speaking contest and composition exams, but their way of thinking, especially those who do not have a chance to be educated has not changed through the centuries.

 

China's current political system is largely formed according to Han Fei's political ideas. Can you imagine a China without the unification of Qin Dynasty? 

 

There are other famous lobbyists in China and two greatest lobbyists are believed to be Su Qin and Zhang Yi. Although they did not write anything like "The Difficulty of Persuasion", their eloquence and ability to persuade are recorded in historical books as Chinese four character idioms or stories.

 

 

 

Comments (3)

Valerie Robin said

at 10:59 am on Nov 17, 2011

Really interesting entry. I'm glad we're getting a taste of China here. My question/suggestion is about 'materialistic philosopher.' I am unfamiliar with this term. It would be helpful to have one or two sentences explaining this term.

bwang8@student.gsu.edu said

at 7:35 pm on Nov 17, 2011

In addition, materialist philosopher is the contrary of the metaphysical philosopher, I think.

bwang8@student.gsu.edu said

at 7:33 pm on Nov 17, 2011

Actually, I have the same feeling with you even with the Chinese literal meaning "materialistic philosopher". However, in China the government is a party government that does not encourage religious beliefs though the overall status quo is religiously free. Our educational system encourages the materialist side of Marxism. Therefore, each and every philosopher who is considered great in china is called a "materialist philosopher". This is only my understanding. :-)

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