Compare and Contrast Hammurabis Code and Legalism

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Evan McDonald Prof. Reilly HIST103 Hammurabi’s Code vs. Han Fei’s Legalism Although Hammurabi’s Code, c. 1800 B.C.E. and Han Fei’s, Legalism, c. 230 B.C.E. differed in the consistency of laws among classes, they both relied on the ideas that harsh punishments for crimes will lead to a more orderly society and that people were naturally evil. Hammurabi’s Code was named after the sixth King of Babylon “Hammurabi” who ruled from 1792 B.C.E. to 1750 B.C.E. During his time of rule, Hammurabi managed to create the first written law code known to man. The code contained 282 laws all carved in an eight foot tall upright stone pillar. The central idea of the laws "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth", is the paraphrase of the code (Van de Mieroop, 2005). In order to retain complete control over Mesopotamia the king decided that a universal law was needed. Legalism is the alternative philosophy to Confucianism rooted on the ideas of Han Fei, a Chinese man who lived during the Zhou dynasty around 280 to 233 B.C.E. Han Fei. As a young man, he was raised on the ideas of Confucianism but later formed opposing ideas primarily pertaining to human nature and government. During this time period, Chinese states were at war for control over the Zhou Dynasty, this led to Han Fei raising questions whether or not complying with Confucian ideals that state proper behavior could create a stable and peaceful society (Han, 1939). Both societies relied on harsh punishments to keep their community orderly. As stated by Han Fei, developing laws with unambiguous punishments and rewards was the one and only way to attain a powerful society. For example, “people caught opposing the government would instantly be disciplined by being burned alive, boiled to death in pots, or have their hands cut off.” These ideas were very similar to the ones stated in Hammurabi’s Code, “If a man breaks into a house,
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