Shenzi (Master Shen) - Chinese Philosophical Work
The Shenzi (慎子) "Master Shen" is a book attributed to the Warring States period (5th cent.-221 BCE)legalist philosopher Shen Dao (慎到). Shen Dao was a teacher at the Jixia Academy (稷下) of the state of Qi during the reign of king Xuanwang (r. 342-324).
During the Han period (206 BCE-220 CE) the book still consisted of 42 chapters (pian), during the Tang period (618-907) of 10 juan "scrolls". During the Song period (960-1279) two versions of the Shenzi were spread, one in 37 chapters (pian) and 9 juan, and one in 5 chapters in 1 juan. Taken together these two parts might have been identical with the original book.
After the Song period the larger version was lost, and only the fragmentary small version survived. Except the five chapters, there are two further chapters surviving in the Qunshu zhiyao collection (群书治要). All seven chapters were put together and found their way into Qian Xizuo's (钱熙祚) Shoushange collectaneum. Some 10 fragments are surviving as quotations in other books.
The Shenzi is an early document of legalist thinking which stressed the importance of ruling by law and by strengthening the position of the ruler. Shen Dao was criticised by Xun Kuang (荀況) (Xunzi 荀子) for his not stressing the importance of employing able ministers – only with the support of able persons the ruler would be strong enough in the legalist sense. There is a much criticised Ming period (1368-1644) edition by Shen Maoshang (慎懋赏) who divided the Shenzi into an inner and an outer part and arranged the chapters in 89 topics.