The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 25)

No Sojae on the Moral Mind and the Human Mind

Sojae was an independent scholar who became interested in the Neo-Confucian theory of the “moral mind” (tosim/tao-hsin) and “human mind” (insim/jen-hsin). In fact, his most famous work is the Insim tosim pyon (Discourse on the Human Mind and the Moral Mind), which contains a diagram. Although he spent nearly twenty hers in exile, he was well acquainted with the intellectual trends of Ming China, especially Lo Chin-shun’s reinterpretation of Cheng-chu teachings. After studying Lo’s Kun-chih chi, he praised it: “Its content is upright and subtle. It formulated under-developed idea and, thus, made a great contribution to the Cheng-Chu learning.” His dependence on it points to his critical study of Sung Neo-Confucianism. In the Kun-chih chi, Lo asserted: “The mind is one, but one speaks of it as two because of the distinction of activity and tranquility and the difference between substance and function.”

Following Lo’s theory of the oneness of the moral mind as “substance” (che/ti) and the human mind as “function” (yong/yung), Sojae criticised Chu His for implying that there are two minds as the two separate sources of goodness, one from the moral mind and the other from the human mind. He states: “The moral mind is Heaven’s principle; it is called the human mind when it is manifest by ki. The human mind necessarily involves feelings that both attained and did not attain their due degree and measure; therefore, it is said to be precarious.” His Insim tosim peon drew a critical reaction from Toegye who criticised both Lo and Sojae for viewing the moral mind and the human mind merely as one.

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