Chinese researchers have reported that both Confucianism and Legalism are mainly motivated by power, which is the most distinct feature of these philosophies’ motivational tendencies, and Legalism is more motivated by power and reward than Confucianism.
Led by Dr. ZHU Tingshao from the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the researchers compared motivational tendencies of Confucianism and Legalism by computing the frequencies of five categories of keywords in pre-Qin Confucian and Legalist classics using Classical Chinese Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (CC-LIWC), a program independently developed by ZHU's team for classical Chinese text analysis.
"The study overcomes the burdensome challenge of processing huge volumes of classical Chinese texts faced by qualitative analysis to a certain extent and provides a new perspective for research in this field," said Dr. ZHU.
According to the results, the use of keywords representing power and reward is more frequent in Legalist classics than in Confucian classics, whereas the use of keywords representing affiliation, risk and achieve shows no significant difference between Confucian and Legalist classics.
Confucianism and Legalism were two major schools of thought in the pre-Qin period and had a longstanding influence on Chinese culture. Most previous research has focused on analyzing the similarities and differences between Confucianist and Legalist thought, whereas few studies have analyzed their motivational tendencies.
The researchers believe that Legalists preferred harsh laws and severe punishments over moral education, implying that Legalists did not recognize the value of moral education and believed in the effective role of power in regulating social order.
Furthermore, both Confucianism andConfucianism were much more motivated by power than any other factors, which may be related to the fact that both of them were subject to monarchy.
The skilled use of rewards in governance manifests the deep Legalist understanding of human nature.
The research, entitled "Motivational Tendency Differences between the Pre-Qin Confucianism and Legalism by Psycholinguistic Analysis," has been published online in Frontiers in Psychology on November 11.
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