Works of Han Feizi


Han Feizi is a collection of writing attributed to Han Fei (circa 280‒233 BC) of Eastern Zhou. Presented here is a facsimile handwritten copy of a Song edition that was owned at one time by bibliophile Qian Zeng (1629‒1701) of early Qing. Han Fei was a prince of the State of Han at the end of the Warring States period. A student of Confucian philosopher Xunzi, Han Fei collected the writing of his predecessors of the pre-Qin period, synthesized the methods of the authors, and wrote more than 100,000 words of his own. Among his works were Gu fen (Solitary indignation), Wu wei (Five vermin), Nei chu (Inner collected sayings), Wai chu (Outer collected sayings), Shuo lin (Collection of persuasions), and Shuo nan (On the difficulties of persuasion). Han Fei summarized the treatises of Shang Yang (395–338 BC), Shen Buhai (385–337 BC), and Shen Dao (395–315 BC), the three leading legalist thinkers of the fourth century BC. His philosophy centered on the authority of the ruler, who was to maintain firm control using three concepts, fa (laws), shu (administrative techniques), and shi (authority). He proposed that the ruler, who was to maintain firm control, had to create laws that would severely punish any unwanted actions but also reward those who obeyed them. He emphasized agriculture and warfare. He expressed his criticism of Confucius and Mozi, and advocated reform of laws. The work was compiled as early as the beginning of Han dynasty (206 BC‒220 AD), and focused on Han Fei’s theory of state power by domination. The work was skillfully constructed, its language was humorous, and it contained cautionary meanings. The copy presented here is a facsimile handwritten copy of a Song edition that Qian Zeng kept at his Shugutang Library, and it includes the complete text. The original text was a block printed edition of Huangsanbalang, the publishing house in Jian’an, during the Qiandao era (1165‒73) of Southern Song. This copy had been held in the collections of famous bibliophiles Ji Zhenyi, Huang Pilie, and others, and it is considered a celebrated work, copied and collected by famous people.

Last updated: April 14, 2017