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Confucian Thought in Korea  A Study Based on the Cardinal Principles of Confucianism - booksonkorea.com
Korea University Press

Confucian Thought in Korea A Study Based on the Cardinal Principles of Confucianism

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ISBN: 9788976419385


Korean Confucian thought converge in ‘the theory of human nobility’. This theory is clearly related to the ‘humanitarian spirit’elaborated by Confucius and ‘devotion to the welfare of mankind’advanced by the Dangun (the forefather of the Korean people) Myth. Ultimately, I believe that Korean Confucianism has bright prospects, as it is fundamentally based on ‘the theory of human nobility’. At the outset, I was conscious of the risk that my investigation, based on each of the several cardinal Confucian principles, could result in divergent kinds of understanding and could conversely also be more monotonous than a general survey which was not structured around the cardinal principles. Bearing this in mind, I begin this work with a survey of the history of Korean Confucianism. In addition, the investigation of each cardinal principle and its application have been carried out in the light of the contemporary historical situation in which it emerged. As a result, those who read this book in a linear fashion from start to finish may gain a general understanding of the subject. Korean Confucian thought, based on the idea of human nobility, is not an obsolete intellectual remnant but a source of wisdom applicable to the task of living. An age-old philosophy is like a gemstone that reveals its true mettle after repeated polishing. In dealing with the venerable currents of Korean Confucianism, I have honed in on their unique characteristics because I have sought to excavate some pristine or jewel-like ideas worth polishing repeatedly, and I have underlined them whenever they merit special attention. In particular, in the conclusion of this book, I anticipate that the theory of four beginnings and seven feelings, the status of human nature and the thing’s nature relative to each other, and Neo-Confucian simjeukri (心卽理, Mind is ri) might contribute greatly to the development of ‘the philosophy of mind’. I hope my expectation may be borne out, and that this book may play a part in strengthening Korean Confucian thought. 


Sa-soon Youn

Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Philosophy, Korea University
Member of the National Academy of Sciences,
Republic of Korea



Chapter I.
The Subject and Methods of Inquiry
1. Definition of Korean Confucianism
2. Methods of Inquiry
Chapter II.
The History of Korean Confucianism : A General Outline
1. The Interregnum between the Introduction of Confucianism and Its Widespread Adoption
2. The Characteristics of Korean Confucianism Formed in Its Early Years
3. Original and Sajang Confucianism after the Adoption of Confucianism (6th -11th Century)
4. The Rise of Early Neo-Confucianism
5. Major Aspects of the Zhu Xi Neo-Confucian Era
Chapter III.
The Practical Implementation of the Cardinal Principles of Confucianism
1. Perspectives on the Emphasis on the Cardinal Principles
2. The Consequences of the Application of In
3. The Characteristics of the Application of Righteousness
4. Distinctive Aspects of the Practice of Propriety
Chapter IV.
An Underdeveloped Aspect of Korean Confucianism: Wang Shou-ren’s Study of the Mind
1. The Outstanding Scholar of Wang Shou-ren’s Study of the Mind: Jeong Je-du
2. Jeong Je-du’s Stance on the Major Ideas of Wang Shou-ren’s Study of the Mind
3. The Derivation of Jeong Je-du’s Theories from Wang Shou-ren’s Work
Chapter V.
A Revaluation of Neo-Confucian Theories
1. The Initiation of the Neo-Confucian Theory of the Just Consequences for Good and Evil
2. Studies on Cheonmyeong in the 16th Century.
3. The Controversy over the Four-Seven on the Basis of Ri-Gi
4. The View of the Unitary Origin of Ri and Gi Based
5. The Inquiry into the Status of Human Nature vis-a-vis the Thing’s Nature
6. The Theory of Seong-Ri Biased toward the Unitary Origin of Gi
7. The Intensification of the View of the Universe
8. The Development of the Neo-Confucian Theory of Simjeukri
Chapter VI.
An Example of Neo-Confucian Silhak — Focused on Yi I’s Silhak
1. The Concept of Sil and the Terms of Silhak
2. Self-cultivation on the Basis of Musil
3. Anin Based on Musil
4. The Characteristics and Influence of Yi I’s Thought on Silhak
Chapter VII.
The Characteristics of De-Neo-Confucian Silhak
1. The Opposition to Self-professed Neo-Confucian Silhak
2. The Formulation of De-Neo-Confucian Silhak
3. The Establishment of De-Neo-Confucian Silhak Thought
Chapter VIII.
Reflection on Korean Neo-Confucianism
1. Reflection on the Methodology of the Investigation
2. The Idea of Human Nobility as a Characteristic of Korean Confucianism
3. On the Alleged Defects of Korean Confucianism
4. The Prospect of Korean Confucianism

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