The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 181)

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To explain his argument further, he uses a concrete example of mountain climbing:

It is like mountain climbing. When one ascends the mountain, one can see a view which is not the same as hearing about it from others. Furthermore, when one reaches the peak, one commands the entire view, becoming completely liberated from a partial view from one side or the partial reports of others. In other words, those never saw the mountain and know generally about it simply by hearing from others’ words belong to the lowest class; those who never climb up to the peak and know the mountain incompletely by seeing it partially from one side belong to the middle class; those who actually reach the peak and command the entire view from there, becoming completely liberated from a partial view one side or from the partial reports of totters, belong to the highest class.

Similarly, those who follow the words of sages and worthies blindly without understanding the subtle meanings of their sayings are the scholars of the lowest group. In this case, Yulgok argues, they can easily misunderstand the actual meanings of the former sages and worthies’ teachings or they can be mislead by ambiguous statements. Of course, the implication of the Four-Seven thesis is very relevant here.

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