Introduction: Han Fei and the Han Feizi

  • Paul R. Goldin
Part of the Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy book series (DCCP)


This introduction to the volume distinguishes between Han Fei, the man, and Han Feizi, the text purporting to contain his writings. While most modern scholars, including the contributors to this collection, accept the bulk of the Han Feizi as genuine, one cannot simply assume that Han Fei was the author of everything in its pages. Moreover, even if Han Fei is responsible for the lion’s share of the extant Han Feizi, a reader must be careful not to identify the philosophy of Han Fei himself with the philosophy (or philosophies) advanced in the Han Feizi, as though these were necessarily the same thing. What Han Fei said varied with his expected audience, a point that most scholarship on the Han Feizi—from the beginnings right down to the present day—has not taken seriously into account.

The rest of the introduction is devoted to an overview of Han Fei’s political philosophy and unresolved interpretive problems. One specific conclusion is that Han Fei’s political recommendations would not have been considered revolutionary in his own day, but his observations on rhetoric and the philosophy of language were truly unprecedented.


Political Philosophy Local Official Private Interest Great Minister Myriad Thing 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of East Asian Languages and CivilizationsUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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