Qin State vs. the Qin Dynasty
The Qin State rose
to power during the
Warring States
The Shang Yang
Reform paved the
way for its new
The Qin Dynasty (221 BC–
206 BC) marks a new era:
Imperial China;
This lasted all the way to the
Qing Dynasty (1644–1912).
Though the Qin Dynasty
didn’t last very long, its
political structure and its
ideology turned out to be
Shang Yang Reform
ca. 390-338 BC
a Chinese statesman
and political philosopher.
He was one of the
founders of Chinese
Legalism and organized
the rise to power of the
Ch'in dynasty.
The first reform: 359 BC;
The second reform: 350
Content of Shang Yang’s Reform
Equality vs. Hierarchy
Establish the county system--31 total for a
stronger centralized government; county
magistrates are appointed directly by the
central government;
Household Registration system and chain
punishment to tighten the leash;
Grown up sons must live independently, which
enlarged the population for tax purpose;
Land Reform
His most famous
economic reform was
the abolition of the
idealized system of
landholding known as
the "well-field system,"
in which a section of
land was divided into
nine portions, tilled by
eight families in
common, with the
produce from the ninth
portion reserved for the
crisscross footpaths between
Basically get rid of boundaries,
carrying out private-ownership
by commoners.
This is a further development in
Guan Zhong’s land reform;
Private ownership marks a
break from that of the Zhou
Dynasty in which 分封制
【fēnfēngzhì】 the system of
enfeoffment dominated, (of the
Western Zhou Dynasty, c.11th.
century-771 B.C., investing the
nobility with hereditary titles,
territories and slaves).
重农轻商 来自商鞅
láizì shāngyāng 】
Central to Shang Yang's economic theory was an
over-whelming emphasis on agriculture and a
rejection of "nonessential" activities such as
commerce and manufacturing. He proposed that
anyone engaging in secondary professions be sold
as slaves; different from Guan Zhong’s model.
In ancient China, merchants and businessmen
suffered a bad reputation. Nowadays, many college
students flood into business schools…
Double-Edged Military Reform
Establish a 20-rank
military system on the
one hand, and on the
other hand, eliminate
the old tenure system
(which fundamentally
challenged those
取【qǔ】 cut “ear” off to
claim credit
The goal is to set up
more centralized
According to Han shu or Book
of Han, Shang code regulates
that someone could be
promoted by one rank for one
chopped-off head in battle or
promoted as a minor officer
whose salary is 50 shi of grain;
a unit of dry measure for grain (
=1 hectolitre)
Shang Yang’s Legal Code
Its Appeal lies in Equality
Central to Shang Yang’s new law is equality by
which a prince be punished the same way as a
王子犯法与庶民同罪 a prince who commits a crime
will be punished the same way as commoners.
Once the crown prince Ying Si 嬴駟 or Zhao Si 赵驷
committed a crime—he killed someone (during a tax
season when some cheating was involved), he was
sent to an exile; and his teachers Ying Qian and
Gongsun Jia was punished by 劓刑【yìxíng】
劓【yì】 cutting off the nose (a punishment in
ancient China)
Ying Si vs. Shang Yang
Ying Si 赢驷 was the son of Duke Xiao 秦孝公, and
succeeded his father as ruler of Qin after the latter's death.
When Ying was still in his adolescent years as the crown
prince, he committed a crime and was severely punished
for it. Shang Yang was implementing his reforms to the
laws of Qin then, and he insisted that the crown prince
should be punished for the crime, regardless of his royal
status. Duke Xiao approved of the draconian punishments
and Ying Si's tutors, Prince Ying Qian and Gongsun Jia,
had their noses cut off, for neglecting their duties in
educating the crown prince, while Ying Si was banished
from the royal palace.
Shang Yang, a Chinese Draco
It was believed that Ying Si harbored a personal
grudge against Shang Yang and when he came to
the throne as King Huiwen of Qin, Ying Si had
Shang Yang put to death on charges of treason.
However, King Huiwen retained the reformed
systems in Qin left behind by his father and
Shang Yang.
Draꞌconian punishments
/Draconian?s=t /translation function
1.of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Draco or his code
of laws.
2.(often lowercase ) rigorous; unusually severe or cruel:
Draconian forms of punishment.
Draco (pronounced /ˈdreɪ.koʊ/; from Greek Δράκων,
pronounced [ˈdra.kɔːn]) was the first legislator of ancient
Athens, Greece, 7th century BC. He replaced the
prevailing system of oral law and blood feud by a written
code to be enforced only by a court. Because of its
harshness, this code also gave rise to the term
Unified Ideology
Books burning (213 BCE) per Qin’s
Legal Code;
As a result, Qin, either as a state or as
an empire, did not leave much literature
behind; the landscape is barren. It is a
cultural wasteland.
Unification of Weight
and Measurement
Unification in weight and measurement,
which paved the way for later regulations
standardized by Qinshihuang, the first
emperor in China.
Shang Yang’s Royal/Loyal Supporter
秦孝公Duke Xiao of Qin
(381 BC - 338 BC)
Duke Xiao is best known for employing the
Legalist statesman Shang Yang from the Wei
state (衛), and authorizing him to conduct a
series of upheaving political, military and
economic reforms in Qin. Although the
reforms were potentially controversial and
drew violent opposition from many Qin
politicians, Duke Xiao supported Shang Yang
fully and the reforms did helped to transform
Qin into a dominant superpower among the
Seven Warring States.
秦孝公 Duke Xiao of Qin
In a recent TV
series, The Great
Qin Empire, Duke
Xiao of Qin is
depicted more like a
brother to Shang
Yang than a king.
The Great Qin Empire
More brotherlike
Legalism: Rule by Law
Legalists: Shang Yang; Li Si; and Han Feizi
Legalism was a system that proved to be quite effective in
gaining power but was problematic for establishing a
stable political power.
The doctrine of Legalism originated in the practical
political operations of the State of Qin.
In the 3rd century BCE, the philosopher Han Fei
developed an intellectual rationale for Legalism. Han Fei
argues that people need careful guidance by strong rulers
to live in an orderly society.
The Qin State, with Legalism as its ideology, succeeded
in ending the Warring States era.
Theoretical Rationale
for Shang Yang’s Reform
The prime minister of Qin in the mid-4th century BCE
was Shang Yang who set out the basic ideas of
The central principle of Legalism was the use of
rewards and punishments to produce conformity to
the rule of clear and well-developed laws.
The law was to be applied uniformly and strictly to
both high and low so that everyone understood their
duties and knew the penalties for failing to fulfill
Consult Xunzi: “Human Nature Is Evil” (worksheet 2)
Is Human Nature Good or Evil?
Implicit or explicit behind Shang Yang’s
model of rewards and punishments lies a
crucial question regarding whether human
nature is good or evil.
Xunzi or Xun Kuang: Human Nature is Evil;
the essay is uploaded online on our class
website; (See Xun Kuang ppts)
Mencius: Human nature is good…(a baby
falling into a well…)
Double Persuasion
An example of Pre-Qin Rhetoric
The Three States attacked Qin and entered Hangu
Pass 函谷关. The king of Qin—( the King Zhao of
Qin, r. 325-251 BCE)
said to Lou Huan樓緩 , “The troops of the Three
States have deeply penetrated our territory. I wish to
cede Hedong and negotiate with them.” Lou Huan
replied, “To cede Hedong would be a great waste.
To escape disaster to our state would be a great
benefit. This is the responsibility of the elders. Why
does not Your Majesty summon Gongzi Chi公子池
and ask him about it?”
Hangu Pass
Hangu Pass 函谷關 was a strategic pass in ancient China
just south of the great eastern bend of the Yellow River in
today's Lingbao County, Henan Province. The State of
Qin built the pass in 361 BC as its eastern gate.
Because of its strategic location between the ancient lands
of the State of Qin and the central plains of China, many
famous ancient battles were fought at Hangu Pass. During
the Warring States Period, Hangu Pass was heavily
defended by the State of Qin, as the pass was the only
reasonable route to invade the State of Qin from the
central plains of China. Hangu Pass was also a vital route
in invading the ancient capital of Luoyang from the west.
According to legend, Lao Zi supposedly wrote the Dao De
Jing at Hangu Pass.
Strategic Location
一夫当关【yīfūdāngguān】 one strong
man stand
in the way full of valor and vigor.,
万夫莫开【wànfūmòkāi】 even 10,000
can not break through; unbreakable.
The Qin army opened the
pass to meet the enemy, yet
the troops of the nine states,
hesitant to move forward,
dared not enter…
Jia Yi’s 贾谊 (200 to 168
“The Faults of Qin” criticizes
cruelty of the Qin Rule
Regardless of its military
supremacy and rich
Double Persuasion
The king summoned Gongzi Chi and asked him about it.
He replied, “If you negotiate with them, you will regret it.
If you don’t negotiate with them, you will regret it.”
“What do you mean?”
Gongzi Chi replied, “When Your Majesty has ceded
Hedong and negotiated, even though the Three States
have departed, you will certainly say, ‘Too bad! The
Three States were about to depart, and I simply
accommodated them with three cities.’ This is what you
would regret about negotiating.”
Double Persuasion
If you do negotiate, and the three States enter Hangu
Pass, Xiangyang will certainly be in danger. Your
Majesty will say, “Too bad! I begrudged three cities and
did not negotiate.’ This is what you would regret about not
The king said, “The regret is equal in both cases. I would
rather lose three cities and regret it than endanger
Xiangyang and regret that. I have decided to negotiate.”
In the end, the king sent Gongzi Chi to use the three
cities to negotiate with the Three States. They withdrew
their troops. Zhanguo ce 6.1 b-2a.
It is Up to You to Decide…
The argument in which the persuader juxtaposes both pro
and con alternatives is similar to a mode of persuasion
used in later Chinese literature in which the writer gives
the appearance of ambivalence on which course of action
he actually favors, and leaves it to the reader or listener
to choose between the alternatives. This ambiguity of
purpose often seems to be deliberate, and perhaps is an
attempt to give the impression that all possibilities have
been explored and that there is a choice between
alternatives. The person thus is led to the desired
conclusion not by direct admonition, but through indirect
suggestion, and this technique becomes a principal form
of suasion. See a sample here.
Annotations on Double Persuasion
Three states that attacked the State of Qin
refer to Qi, Han and Wei. This happened
around 297 BCE;
The king of Qin refers to the King Zhao of Qin
(r. 325-251 BCE)
Gongzi Chi, son of the King Hui of Qin, was the
highest military leader, equivalent to the
president of the military committee;
Stylistic features of the Zhanguo ce
Intrigues of the Warring States
The enumeration of historical analogies is the most
common device of Chinese suasive discourse. Toward
the end of the speech, the persuader uses the repetition
scheme known as expolitio, which involves the repetition
of synonyms in adjacent lines. See the ending of Su
Qin’s speech in “Double Persuasion.”
ex-po-li'-ti-o Latin, "adorning, embellishing" refining
One of the most common rhetorical techniques of the
Zhanguo ce persuasion is what James I. Crump has
called the double persuasion.
Double Persuasion
Double persuasion is the Chinese
equivalent to the general topic of
classical Western rhetoric and assumes
several different forms. Its basic feature
is the presentation of alternative or
contraries that appear equally
persuasive, either in a negative or
positive way.
The Qin Unification
Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇) (259 BC
– 210 BC), personal name Ying
Zheng (嬴政), was king of the
Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC
to 221 BC during the Warring
States Period. He became the first
emperor of a unified China in 221
BC. He ruled until his death in 210
BC at the age of 49.
The Great Wall of China
Unification of writing
Terracotta Army
Lǚ Buwei 吕不韦 vs. Qin Shi Huang
The Emperor and the Assassin
Qin Shi Huang’s birth remains a
riddle since in The Records of
the Grand Historian 史记,
Sima Qian gave us two
contradictory accounts;
As Emperor’s 仲父
【zhòngfù】 , literally the second
father, equivalent to a mentor,
god-father figure.
hoard as a rare commodity: Lǚ
Buwei’s investment in Qin Shi
See the notes below.
焚书坑儒【fénshūkēngrú】 burn the
books and bury (460) scholars alive
Compare the Two movies
The Emperor and
the Assassin
directed by Chen
Hero directed by
Zhang Yimou
指鹿为马【zhǐlùwéimǎ】 call a stag a horse
- deliberately misrepresent something
a (court) eunuch overpowers an emperor