The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 115)


On the whole, Yulgok emphasises the relationship of continuum between the Four and Seven in the context of addressing not only the inseparability and complementarity of i and ki in all feelings, but also the ethical link of good and evil. In this regard, Kobong has a significant impact on Yulgok’s thinking. But Yulgok’s Four-Seven thesis is presented more specifically; it is, indeed, a critique of Toegye’s interpretation. In his view, Toegye overemphasised the Four-Seven contrast dualistically in terms of distinction and separation. the fundamental implication of Yulgok’s argument is a significant moral issue from a Confucian standpoint of self-cultivation. To emphasise a concrete way of emotional integration, he utilises a non dualistic approach and definitely affirms the “harmony-disharmony” link between the Four and he Seven in the sense that their fundamental difference relates to the issue of whether feelings are expressed and harmonised properly. The goodness of the beginnings of virtue is no different from the goodness of the harmonised emotions. the feelings fundamentally pertain to one kind, just as the entire reality of human nature is one.

For Yulgok, if the basic distinction between the Four and the Seven were to be discussed, then it can done in terms of the distinction between original human nature and physical human nature.

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