During the Qin Dynasty, all books that did not support legalistic philosophy were burned, and writers, philosophers, and teachers of other philosophies were executed. The excesses of legalism of the Qin Dynasty made the regime very unpopular with the people of the time. After the fall of Qin, legalism was abandoned in favor of Confucianism, which significantly influenced the development of Chinese culture. Li Si`s attack on private learning is often misinterpreted as a victory of “legalists” over “Confucian” ideology, but this is false. Confucianism as such was not targeted; in fact, it flourished among court scholars (Kern 2000: 188-191). What mattered to Li Si, as to Han Fei, was not doctrinal unity as such, but the imposition of state control over intellectual life, as in all other spheres of social activity. Intellectuals were not persecuted because of the content of their ideas; But they had to either enter the public service or give up their jobs. Eventually, Li Si`s biblioclasm backfired. Not only did this cause considerable resentment in the short term, but, more worryingly, an immense dislike for Qin – and legalism – among the overwhelming majority of imperial scholars for millennia to come (Pines 2014a). Decisions on promotion and downgrading issues should never be based on the heart of the leader; not only because he can be misled and manipulated by unscrupulous helpers, but also because any decision – even correct – that is not based on impersonal standards will cause dissatisfaction among his subordinates (see more in Harris 2016: 31-34).
An alternative will be a set of clear and impersonal rules governing the recruitment and promotion of civil servants. For Shang Yang, recruitment will be based on merit ranks. Han Fei doubts it: Why should the brave soldiers who have reached the ranks become good officials? Han Fei himself does not solve the problem of initial recruitment, but develops ways to monitor the subsequent promotion of a civil servant: it was only at the turn of the twentieth century that legalism was rediscovered and partially rehabilitated by new generations of intellectuals. Frustrated by China`s inability to reconstitute itself in a modern world as a “powerful state with a powerful military,” young intellectuals began to seek a variety of non-traditional answers to domestic and foreign policy challenges; Among these, some have turned to legalism. It was deemed relevant not only because it had proven itself in the past, but also because of its innovative strength, its willingness to deviate from the models of the past, and even its quasi-scientific perspective. For example, the first great proclaimer interested in Shang Yang`s thought, Mai Menghua 麥夢華 (1874-1915), was positively attracted by the surprising similarity between Shang Yang`s views on history and the evolutionary ideas of Western social theorists; and he identified parallels in Lord Shang`s book with Western ideas of imperialism, nationalism, statism (guojiazhuyi國家主義) and even the rule of law (Li Yu-ning 1977: lviii-lix). Even such a prominent liberal thinker as Hu Shi 胡適 (1891-1962) was willing to forgive the legalists for their notorious harshness and oppression, praising Han Fei and Li Si for their “courageous spirit of resistance to those who `do not make the present their master, but learn from the past`” (Hu Shi 1930: 6,480-81). A little later, it was none other than Hu Hanmin 胡漢民 (1879-1936), one of the most important leaders of the Kuomintang 國民黨 (Kuomintang, KMT, “Nation Party”), who wrote a preface to a new edition of Lord Shang`s book (Hu Hanmin 1933). Buddhism was the third major belief system of ancient China.
It was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, also called Buddha, who lived in India around the sixth century BC. Buddhists strive to attain enlightenment through meditation, spiritual learning, and practice. They believe in reincarnation and that life is transitory and full of suffering and uncertainty; The way to find peace is to attain Nirvana, a state of joy beyond human suffering.