Now we come to the truly great philosophers, the one that inspire deep reverence on my part. You might recall in our previous discussion of Xunzi, that while he was a genius–one of the first to see humans as inherently evil–he sided with the Chinese imperial equivalent of France. By advising the losing state of Qi, Xunzi proved that there was at least one man greater than him. I refer of course to that greatest of Waring States thinkers, the advisor to Qin:
Han Feizi, aka Han Fei, aka Han Fei Tzu
Han Feizi actauly started out as a disciple to Xunzi before parting ways with Confucianism, turning his back on Kongzi for the cold and hard realities of Legalism. As someone who has personally danced on Yuan Shikai’s grave, let me tell you, there is nothing sweeter than outlasting/defeating former teachers. I bet Han Feizi got loaded when Qin defeated Qi–perhaps even claiming a few of Xunzi’s wives as his own. I know that is what I would have done.
Han Feizi’s view of the state meshes perfectly with my own. He saw the ruler as fundamentally isolated and surrouned by peoeple motivated by self-interest. Check and check! He advocated keeping a tight grip on your officials, and to not be afraid to execute them if needed. He also cracked down on the “five vermin”; this included killing off lots of scholars. Be warned so-called academics–You are vermin in Han Feizi’s eyes, and rulers would be wise to dispatch you as soon as you can be lured out of your libraries. I am thinking that once I am back in power in Shanxi I will start a new fellowship program to bring leading scholars to do “research” in the Taiyuan Archives. Oh, and by “research” I mean working in one of Taiyuan’s many fine coal mines.
Perhaps the only reason HFZ is not any higher on this list is that he was out-maneuvered by that punk Li Si, who turned Qinshi Huangdi against HFZ, even though Han Feizi was rumored to be the emperor’s father. Han Feizi died in jail, which is just inexcusable–great philosophers make other people die in jail, not the other way around! Even though he died in jail like a student activist, my great respect for him compels me to grant him the honor of #3 on the list.