The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 54)

Chu Hsi’s interpretation of the mind is also discussed in terms of the so-called moral mind (tosim; literally the “mind of the Way”) and human mind (insim). Commenting on the Doctrine of the Mean, he argued that the former is aroused from “the correctness of Heaven and destiny” and the latter from “selfishness identified with physical form”; more to the point, the former is “subtle,” “impartial,” and “good,” whereas the latter is “partial” and “prone to error,” involving both good and evil. In Chu Hsi’s view, then, the moral mind pertains to moral principles such as benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom, whereas the human mind pertains to our physical feelings and sensations, including the mouth’s desire for taste, the eye’s desire for colour, and so on. Furthermore, the moral mind is the mind-in-itself full of li only, whereas the human mind is the manifest mind mixed with selfish desires caused by ki. But Chu Hsi did not discuss them with respect to the Four and the Seven; this was, in fact, another obscure are that the Korean Neo-Confucians especially Yulgok debated.

According to the Cheng-Chu tradition, human nature can be discussed in term of its two names, original (human) nature (pony on chi song) and physical (human) nature (kijil chi song). Cheng I and Chu Hsi explained the former with respect to li and the latter as its physical endowment conditioned by ki. Chang Tsai discussed the latter as its physical endowment conditioned by ki. Chang Tsai discussed the latter in terms of the transformation of ki as a way of self-cultivation. Interpreting the early classics and his senior Neo-Confucians including Tsai, Chu Hsi argued that the original human nature and the physical human nature are not two separate natures with their own ontological grounds. Rather they are just two different names or concepts referring to the two realms of one nature.

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