The "Hundred Schools of Thought" and Their Exponents
Great social changes took place during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, which spurred cultural development. In these periods, there appeared many great thinkers, such as Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi, Confucius, Mencius, Xun Zi, Mo Zi and Han Fei Zi. They stated their views on society from different stands and angles, and gradually formed schools of philosophy represented mainly by the Taoist, Confucianist, Mohist and Legalist schools. These numerous schools and their representatives came to be known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought and their exponents". They wrote books to expound their theories, publicized their propositions and criticized others' viewpoints in a period when "one hundred schools of thought contended".
Lao Zi was the founder of the Taoist School, and wrote Dao De Jing (The Classic of the Way and Virtue). He deemed that all things have their opposites; for example, fortune and misfortune, existence and non-existence, life and death, nobility and baseness, high and low, strong and weak are all pairs of opposite aspects of a unity and can be transformed into each other.
Mo Zi initiated the Mohist School. He encouraged economy and opposed waste. He advocated choosing noble-minded and talented people to be officials to govern the people. And he called on people to love each other and eschew war.
The most important representative of the Legalist School was Han Fei Zi, who wrote The Book of Han Fei Zi. He advocated ruling the country by means of strictly enforced laws. He was in favor of a centralized autocratic monarchy. His theories were later adopted by Emperor Qinshihuang, China's first unifier.