The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 88)

Toegye’s final hobal thesis is: “In the case of the Four Beginnings, i is manifest and ki follows it; in the case of the Seven Emotions, ki is manifest and i rides on it.” Clearly, this revised theory is somewhat softened in comparison with his original theory that “the Four Beginnings are manifestation of i; the Seven Emotions are manifestations of ki.” In other words, the former is less strict than the latter in the sense of separating i and ki. But it still involves his dualistic position that the Four are manifest from i and the Seven from ki; more specifically, he explicitly emphasises the primary role of i in the issuance of the Four and the primary role of ki in the issuance of the Seven. The following passage illustrates it further in terms of the popular rider-horse analogy used by Chu Hsi:

In old days, people compared a rider’s coming and going by riding on a horse with i’s moving as riding on ki. This is a good comparison. In general, a rider without a gorse cannot come and go; a horse without a rider will lose its right track. Therefore the rider and the horse need each other and are inseparable from each other. Someone said in this regard: “If viewed simply from the standpoint of going, both rider and horse are all included.” This is exactly like the case when we speak of the Four and the Seven without differentiation. When we say that “a rider going (somewhere),” we know that a horse is also said to be going (somewhere), without having to mention the horse at the same time. This is similar to the case of the Four Beginnings. On the other hand, when we say that “a horse going (somewhere),” we know that a rider is also said to be going (somewhere), without having to mention the rider at the same time. This is similar to the case of the Seven Emotions.

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