The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 127)


As Yulgok argues, i and ki cannot be xixdd with each other: i remains i, and ki remains ki, even though they are combined in all things. Of course, this affirms an ontological and conceptual distinction of i and ki. Yulgok continues to argue that the reason for the principle of people being equivalent to the principle of things is that i is “one” and “universal”:

Principle is; however, its myriad particularisations are diverse when it rides on material force. In Heaven and earth, i is the principle of Heaven and Earth; in the myriad things, it is the principle of the myriad things; and in human beings, it is the principle of human beings. Although Heaven, Earth, human beings, and things each have principle, the principle of Heaven and Earth is, in fact, the same as the principle, the principle of the myriad things, and the principle of the myriad things is, in fact, the same as our principle. This is the so-called One Great Ultimate in its whole self. Although it is called the “oneness of i,” human nature is not the same as the nature of things, and the dog’s nature is not the same as the cow’s nature. This is what is meant by each having its own nature. If we ponder on the origin, i and ki are the father and mother of human beings and things. Heaven and Earth received what is perfectly upright and penetrating in ki; therefore, they have the fixed nature and, as silt, there is no change in them. The myriad things received what is partial and blocked; however, they also have fixed nature and, as a result, no change in them.

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