二柄 – Chinese philosophy and culture

èrbǐng 二柄

Two Handles

君主所掌握的两种权柄,即赏罚之权。奖赏与惩罚是政治治理的基本手段,不同学派都有所讨论。韩非子(前280?—前233)特别重视赏罚在政治治理中的作用,认为赏罚应以国家的法令为依据,合乎法令则赏,违背法令则罚。人们畏惧刑罚、喜好奖赏,就会按照法令的规范行事。韩非子同时强调,君主应掌握施加赏罚的权力,以保证赏罚依据法令而行,避免赏罚之权旁落而成为个人谋求私利的工具。

In this context, two handles mean a sovereign ruler has the power to both confer rewards and mete out punishments. Both are basic ways of governance and have been subjects of discussion in different schools of thought. Ancient scholar Hanfeizi (280?-233 BC) attached great importance to the role of rewards and punishments in governance, believing that both should be given according to the law. One who abode by the law should be offered rewards and one who broke the law should be given punishment. This would make people behave in accordance with the law as they love rewards and fear punishment. He also emphasized that a sovereign should exercise his power in such a way so that rewards and punishments were given exactly as the law requires and that such power was not abused as a tool to seek personal gain.

引例 Citation:

◎二柄者,刑、德也。何谓刑、德?曰:杀戮之谓刑,庆赏之谓德。为人臣者畏诛罚而利庆赏,故人主自用其刑德,则群臣畏其威而归其利矣。(《韩非子·二柄》)

(两种权柄,就是指刑和德。什么是刑、德?杀戮称为刑,奖赏称为德。官吏畏惧刑罚而谋求奖赏,因此君主亲自施用奖赏,官吏就会畏惧刑罚的威势而去谋求奖赏之利了。)

The term “two handles” refers to punishment and honors. What is meant by punishment and honors? Death penalty is a form of punishment and reward is a form of honor. Officials fear punishment and seek honors. When a sovereign exercises these two powers, officials will undoubtedly fear punishment and seek honors. (Hanfeizi)

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