The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 89)

In Toegye’s view, Kobong’s standpoint of inseparability means that “a rider and a horse are going together at the same time,” not that “a rider is going (somewhere)” and “a horse is going (somewhere).” If viewed from Toegye’s standpoint of separation and distinction, we can say that “a rider is going,” although we really mean that not only the rider but also the horse are going together. Similarly, we can say that “a horse is going,” although we really mean that both the horse and the rider are going together. Implicit in this analogical reasoning is Toegye’s view that “a horse is going” refers to “i manifesting,” whereas “a rider is going” refers to “ki manifesting.” In other words, in the case of the Four, i (rider) is manifest (going) and ki (horse) follows; in the case of the Seven, ki (horse) is manifest (going) and i (rider) rides on it. Toegye means that in the former case, i is “what dominates” and “what is principally referred to,” even though ki plays its role of following i; in the latter case, ki is “what dominates” and “what is principally referred to,” even though i plays its role of riding on ki.

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