The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 87)

Toegye, then, raises the following question: “Why is it not possible to distinguish the origin of the Four BEginnings from that of the Seven Emotions?” HE seems to mean, in an epistemological context of “emphasis,” “distinction,” and “separation,” that the origin of the Four is i, whereas the origin of the Seven is ki. In response to Kobong’s view that the Four do not belong to an independent kind of feelings outside the Seven, he agrees with Kobong that the issuance of the Four certainly involves the participation by ki. But what Kobong does not recognise is, Toegye argues, the fact that what Mencius singled out as the Four cannot refer to any manifestation of ki at all. As Toegye states, “If you say that it refers to ki also, it should not be called the Four BEginnings.” He gives an ambiguous statement to criticise Kobong for opposing his analysis of the Four and the Seven: “Your argument states: ‘In its state of equilibrium, the mind is stimulated by external things and does not lack i. Both the Seven and the Four respond to external things.’ I think this statement is certainly correct, but it refers to the realm of undifferentiation (before the mind is aroused). Using this you oppose my explanation that I have formulated from a standpoint of distinction and separation… I did not make such a theory of distinction and separation. In Heaven and Earth, there was originally such a principle… If you focus only only on one principle, neglecting the other, are you not one-sided?” Surely, Toegye agrees with Kobong that both the Four and the Seven are aroused feelings after the mind is stimulated by external things. He is well aware of Kobong’s non dualistic position based on the inseparability of i and ki; as a result, he accepts Kobong’s view that the issuance of the Seven involves both i and ki. And yet, the Four and the Seven can be compared and contrasted in an epistemological context of “distinction” and “separation.” As Toegye argues, “in the case of the Seven, ki is that which is principally referred to”; similar, “in the case of the Four, i is that which is principally referred to.” He writes further: “I do not say that the Seven Emotions have nothing to do with i… In this regard, the Four BEginnings, which move when stimulated by external things, are no different from the Seven Emotions.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

London United Korean Fan Club

London United Japanese Fan Club