The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 29)

Toegye wrote many significant works during his sixties. Among them are the following: Paeksa Sigo Chonsumnok chojon inso kihu (Postscript to Conveyed Copy of Chen Hsien-chang’s Instructions Through Poetry and Wang Yang-ming’s Instruction for Practical Living); Yukcho so (Six-Article Memorial), Toegye’s greatest political treatise; Songhak sipto (Ten Diagrams on the Learning of Sagehood), a massive summation and synthesis of the whole framework and linkage of the Cheng-Chu metaphysics and ethics; Saso haeui (A Commentary on the Four Books), the first Korean commentary on the Three Classics); and Sim mu cheyong peon (Critique on the Saying “the Mind Does Not Have Substance and Function”), an essay on the Neo-Confucian philosophy of the mind.

For seven years from early 1559 to late 1566, Toegye carried on his Four-Seven correspondence with the young bright scholar Ki Kobong (1529-1592). In this debate, he formulated a highly sophisticated philosophy of mind, human nature, and feelings in relation to the Neo-Confucian metaphysics of i and ki. Soon the debate generated a great deal of scholarly and philosophical controversy, setting the philosophical agenda for generations to come. A few years later, it decided the whole Korean intellectual world into two different transmissions of the Cheng-Chu school. Toegye’s Four-Seven thesis is the best source for understanding not only the philosophical and intellectual dimensions of his Neo-Confucianism, but also the ethical and spiritual patterns of his life and character.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

London United Korean Fan Club

London United Japanese Fan Club