Shen Buhai - Historiography


Shen Buhai was criticized by both Confucians and Legalists. Unlike the Confucians, he never mentioned virtue; unlike the Shang Yang wing of the Legalists, he never mentioned Fa (Law). The Confucian Xun Zi strongly criticized Shen Buhai's emphasis on secrecy and lack of trust in ministers. The legalist Han Fei criticized Shen for paying too much attention to methodology at the expense of laws.

Although Shen Buhai was later linked inseparably with the Legalists, it was Hanfei who merged the ideas of Shen Buhai with those of Shang Yang. In 141 BC, under the reign of Emperor Wu of Han, Shen Buhai's name was listed with other legalist thinkers whose ideas were officially banned from the government; from that point on, scholarship on the ideas of Shen Buhai went into a steep decline.

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