What Are Some Beliefs of Legalism?

Beliefs of Legalism include the idea that order was the most important human concern and that humans are inherently evil. Legalism was a Classical Chinese philosophy founded by Hsün Tzu and developed during the fourth century BCE.

Legalism was a contrasting system compared to Taoism, which leaned towards anarchy, and Confucianism, which believed in benevolence. Legalism believed that a good government was only possible if the impossible ideals of tradition and humanity were ignored. The Legalists thought that ideas of education, nobility and ethics were useless in improving the human condition. They instead believed that humans could only be improved by a strong government.

Legalism held the belief that a strong government could only exist with a strict code of law and an impartial police force to enforce those laws. Further, the police force was expected to punish even the smallest crime harshly. Legalism was thus a totalitarian belief system. Its founder, Hsün Tzu, believed humans were inherently selfish and inclined towards social disorder.

According to Hsün Tzu, morality was something that had to be enforced, as it does not exist in nature. The only way to enforce morality, according to this system, was to consistently punish harshly for any and every infraction.