SICEP Graduate Student Conference on East Asian Confucian Thought
*Event postponed due to outbreak of Corona Virus
Time to be announced
SICEP is proud to sponsor a two-day graduate student conference on the campus of Sungkyunkwan University to be held 8-9 May 2020. The aim of the conference is to provide graduate students in Korea who are working on East Asian Confucian Thought an opportunity to present their work in English in a public forum, receive feedback with an eye to strengthening their research, and have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with fellow students and faculty. Our event includes graduate students from a broad range of Korean institutions and welcomes the participation of professors and fellow students as members of the audience. Our aim is to foster and strengthen the research of advanced Korean graduate students in a challenging collegial setting.
- Speaker 1
Seo, Jaehyun (Sungkyunkwan University)
Even though Mencius served King Xuan of Qi and Duke Wen of Teng as their moral coach, it seems that they faced certain hurdles that made it difficult for them to become “rulers who attain the royal dignity” (wangzhe 王者). In this paper, I explore one of the core challenges concerning how to define the wangdao theory of Mencius. The difficulty I wish to analyze concerns the challenge of distinguishing three figures “a person who practices benevolence” (xingrenzhe 行仁者)”, “a person who pretends to benevolence” (jiarenzhe 假仁者) and “a person who is not benevolent” (burenzhe 不仁者). This challenge is connected to the problem of differentiating “the way of the true king” (wangdao 王道), “the way of the hegemon” (badao 覇道) and the rest. In Mencian philosophy. Mencius 2A3 seems to say that there can be no compromise between those two concepts, but I will argue that there are at least two different views one can have on this issue. One is repositioning the status of the hegemons. By rebuilding a spectrum of Mencius’ wangdao exposition, I’ll retain the position where three figures would be positioned. Another point of view is that since there is only a slight and delicate difference between these figures, there is still a possibility for such a king to become a “ruler who attains the royal dignity” (wangzhe 王者) by aiding his self-cultivation.
- Speaker 2
- Song, Jihye (Seoul National University)
- “The idea of “upright writing(直筆)” in Chinese historiography”
In writing the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty (朝鮮王祖實錄), the public historical records compiled after each king’s reign, Joseon’s political actors resorted to the normative ideal of “true writing” (zhíbǐ 直筆) in order to justify what to write in the Records and how to write it. In the process, each actor supported a different understanding of the ideal of “true writing”: some argued that it meant writing truly (zhí 直) about what they saw and heard without interjecting any personal judgment, while others argued that the essence of “true writing” was writing about events with an upright (zhí 直) mind and some details could be omitted or exaggerated.
Since the idea of the “true” (zhí 直) as developed in the Confucian tradition largely informed their understanding of “true writing,” the controversy over its proper meaning can be understood in terms of contestation over the idea of the “true” (zhí 直) which developed over the course of the Confucian tradition since the debate between Confucius and the Duke of Shi (Lunyu 13.18). This paper locates the Joseon’s political actors’ controversy over the normative ideal of “true writing” in the historical debate over the idea of the “true” (zhí 直). By doing so, I aim to elaborate how the Confucian idea of the “true” (zhí 直) was contested and transformed in the course of writing the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty.
Lee, Joonpyo (Sungkyunkwan University)
The aim of this presentation is to reconsider the meaning of the phrase kejifuli 克己復禮 within the intellectual environment of the pre-Qin period. This presentation intends to reconstruct the meaning of kejifuli based on the Han commentaries, instead of the Song commentaries which interpret Ji to mean self-centered desires and fuli as to mean returning to ritual, which implies perfect virtue. Contrary to what the Song commentators claim, in the Analects, Confucius did not regard Ji as implying negative, self-centered aspects of the self or understand ritual (li 禮) in terms of principle (理). In this presentation I attempt to interpret kejifuli based on the logic of the tradition of Han Commentaries who explained kejifuli using other passages in the Analects. To be specific, I argue that Han commentators offered interpretations that were more thoroughly consistent with the Analects than the Song commentators.
Cho, Hyunill (Chonnam National University)
"Cognitive approaches to the origin of Xiunzi's morality"
The purpose of this presentation is to explain the origin of Xunzi's morality by showing how people who begin life with an originally bad nature can create morality. Many scholars have tried to explain the origin of morality in Xunzi by saying that even if humans have the ability to create morality, human nature cannot help but tend toward badness. But these scholars cannot explain what kind of human ability can make it possible, nor the kind of factors and processes involved in creating that morality. I believe that conceptual blending theory, which shows the source of human imagination and creativity, is by far the best framework by which to identify the resolution to Xunzi's morality. By using this theoretical foundation, I suggest that human creativity and imagination make it possible for Xunzi to explain how human beings, who begin life with a bad nature, can create morality.
Choi, Guk (Sungkyunkwan University)
Mencius tries to show the goodness of human nature by providing a thought experiment in which human beings would have the same response such as in the case of seeing a child about to fall into a well (Mencius 2A6). This thought experiment consists of certain given circumstance C and corresponding response R. Generalized from 2A6, we can say that Mencius tries to show K’s nature (K in the sense that k is an individual member belonging to certain species K) by providing conditional sentence, whose form is if k is under C, it would make response R. However, this formulation for showing K’s nature has a crucial problem, because there might be other cases in which all ks have the same responses in other different situations, and if this is so, which case among them actually demonstrates K’s nature is not determined. I call this “the problem of underdetermination.” However, in this paper, I will argue that Mencius’s discussion of human nature avoids this problem of underdetermination, and I will show how he could do so.
Kim, Taehwan (Sogang University)
“Argument on the Democratic and Republican Aspects of Dasan Jeong Yakyong’s
(茶山 丁若鏞) Political Theory”
Park, Seongun (Seoul National University)
“A use of the foreign policy legacy of the Hongwu Emperor”
In this article I analyze a use of the political legacy of Zhu Yuanzhang (the Hongwu Emperor, 1328–1398,r. 1368–1398) who, as the founding emperor of Ming dynasty, was enthusiastic about adopting Neo-Confucianism as state orthodoxy. To be specific, I shall examine how the foreign policy legacy of the Hongwu Emperor – his principle of noninterventionist foreign policy inscribed in the Huang Ming zuxun (The August Ming Ancestral Instruction) and in his policy precedents dealing with neighboring countries – was interpreted, appropriated, and challenged in Ming court in the first half of the sixteenth century.
At that time, the Jiajing Emperor (1507–1567, r. 1521–67) took note of the fact that the Vietnamese minister Mac Dang Dung (1483–1541) rebelled against his king. This posed a serious challenge to Ming China because he usurped the throne recognized by the Chinese emperor. The Ming court was divided into two camps with respect to whether to raise an army to punish him for his crime. On the one hand, those who opposed war supported a ‘literal interpretation’ of the Hongwu Emperor’s injunction, arguing that as long as the founding emperor documented the noninterventionist policy toward both Korea and Vietnam as an unchanging principle of Ming foreign policy, the Jiajing Emperor had to follow suit. On the other hand, the pro-war advocates attempted to establish a more ‘flexible interpretation’ of his political legacy. They pointed out that because the sixteenth-century situation differed significantly from that of the fourteenth century, during which Zhu Yuanzhang outlined his noninterventionist policy toward both Korea and Vietnam, a flexible interpretation of his injunction was appropriate.
It should be noted that not only the Hongwu Emperor’s foreign policy toward Vietnam but also his policy toward Korea was a crucial reference in the formation of the sixteenth-century foreign policy toward Vietnam. As people during Jiajing’s reign saw it, Mac Dang Dung’s usurpation of the Vietnamese throne was similar in nature to the dynastic change that took place in late fourteenth-century Korea. To better understand this complex policy-making process, we need a multilateral framework that encompasses Ming China, Vietnam, and Korea, just as the policy makers of the mid-Ming court did. However, most prior studies on this issue tend to focus solely on bilateral relations, analyzing the Sino-Vietnamese and Sino-Korean relationships separately. This bilateral approach fails to capture the complex multilateral reality of sixteenth-century East Asia.
Lee, Yoon-seok (Sungkyunkwan University)
“A Korean Philosopher’s Analysis of Qiwulun (齊物論)”
Han Won Jin was an 18th-century Neo-Confucian of the Joseon dynasty, who organized and published work on Zhu-Xi(朱熹)’s commentaries and presented his own interpretation of the Chinese classics. What is unusual is that among his writings, there is an interpretation of the Zhuang-zi (莊子). It is difficult to find works that directly focus on the thought of Zhung-zi among the writings of other Neo-Confucianist of the Joseon dynasty. I propose to analyze and understand his work.
Specially, I shall examine Han’s interpretation of the Qiwulun (齊物論) chapter of the Zhuang-zi. I will focus my attention on this chapter because he regarded it as the most important part of Zhuang-zi and devoted consideration effort to explaining it. Han Won Jin divides the full context of the Qiwulun into 31 paragraphs aimed at explaining the process of uniting(齊一) the a lot of argument(物論) in the world. And because he use the concept of Neo-Confucianism and its meanings for explaining the Qiwulun (齊物論) in these paragraphs, I will especially focus on this kind of aspects. By doing this, I will examine the ideas revealed in Han Won Jin’s interpretation by carefully analyzing his reconstruction of the Qiwulun.
Lee, AhYoung (Korea University)
Wu-wei statecraft, which is commonly referred to as a politics of non-action or no action, is a seemingly paradoxical concept. While it is well-established that it is one of the core ideas in Daoist philosophy, many believe that wu-wei not only represents the essence of Confucian statecraft but also has played an extremely important role in the development of Chinese philosophy. It is worth noting that the term seldom appears in the essential texts of Confucianism. In the case of the Four Books, wu-wei appears only once, in the Analects. It is not clear how the concept can play such an important role in Confucian political theory, given that it appears so rarely. In addition, current interpretations of the concept of wu-wei are not well-grounded, at least partly because of the relative lack of textual support.
This essay aims to present an organized, systematic, and textually well-grounded account of the meaning of the concept of wu-wei as a Confucian political ideal and demonstrate how it is related to other cardinal values of Confucianism in earlypecific questions: (1) what is the meaning of wu-wei in the context of the political philosophy of Confu China. By carefully exploring and interpreting the Confucian classics, it engages the following scius; (2) as a governing technique, how does wu-wei correlate with other cardinal Confucian values; (3) how does the concept of wu-wei serve as a way to achieve the Confucian political ideal?
Lee, Jeong-In (Sungkyunkwan University)
"Friendship and Its Role in Mencius"
This article explores the question of why Mencius 孟子 thought “friendship” (pengyou 朋友) can be one of the most essential relationships in Confucianism. ‘The five relationships’ (wulun 五倫) have often been regarded as the essence of Confucianism. However, while the other four relationships—those between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife, and older sibling and younger sibling—concern the family and political world, the last relationship says that ‘Faith should reign over the relation between friends’ (pengyou you xin 朋友有信); it is about friendship. Confucianism centered around family and politics; otherwise, friendship is distinct and it has to be clarified that how “friendship” (pengyou 朋友) can relate to other parts of Confucian teaching.
Mencius was who mentioned "friendship" (pengyou 朋友) as one of ‘The five relationships’ (wulun 五倫) for the first time. “Friendship” (pengyou 朋友) in Confucius was the relationship that advises each other and if they are not changed after several times it stopped. So it is focused on the helpful relationship to development. Mencius enlarged the conception of Confucius, making it beyond space, class, and time. The reason is that Mencius expected the social role of “Friendship” (pengyou 朋友) cultivating and verifying “Faith” (xin信). It can be construed as one of the efforts that Mencius showed the possibilities of realizing the Confucian idea in the political world.
Lee, Jong Ui (Sogang University)
“Moral Universality in Mengzi and Kant: A Comparison”
In this paper, I would like to examine the concept of universality in Mengzi and Kant’s moral theories, which are found in their works, sometimes explicitly and sometimes by implication. The difference in their styles and the ways in which they present their arguments are obvious. Moreover, they do not share the same terms; some specific terms that are frequently used in one philosopher are not found at all in the other’s works, for example: freedom and autonomy. Although their arguments are couched in different words, they sometimes refer to the same concepts-even occasionally they invoke identical concepts expressed in different words. This raises the possibility that their arguments can be productively compared and further analyzed, insofar as they are working with the same concepts. In this paper, I focus on the concept of moral universality. By moral universality I mean the fact that morality exists in every normal person; strictly speaking this claim applies only to every normal person who is raised in human circumstance without any profound mental or psychological problems. This kind of moral universality is found in both Mengzi and Kant.
Mengzi believes that every person can become like King Yao (堯) or Shun (舜) (6B2). Yao and Shun were the legendary emperors of the golden age in Chinese history; they were revered as saints and ideal humans. These royal saints are not that different in their moral capability from normal people because every normal person also shares the same kind of capability to be moral, despite being incomplete presently. Mengzi argues that “All human beings have a mind that cannot bear to see the sufferings of others. The ancient kings had such a commiserating mind and, accordingly, a commiserating government” (2A6). Because of such universality, Mengzi boldly contends that “one who lacks a mind that feels pity and compassion would not be human; one who lacks a mind that feels shame and aversion would not be human; one who lacks a mind that feels modesty and compliance would not be human; and one who lacks a mind that knows right and wrong would not be human” (2A6). Mengzi’s rationale for such moral universality is that if anyone sees a child about to fall into well, one would feel alarm, distress, pity, and compassion for the child (2A6). He explicitly excludes ulterior motives regarding this spontaneous reactive attitude. This compassionate mind is universal to all humans.
Kant also argues that morality is found in all rational beings; the moral law is a fact of reason, which is our a priori consciousness of the binding force of the moral law upon each of us (CPrR 5:47). Kant extends moral universality beyond humans to all rational beings, including God and spiritual beings. Kant's categorical imperative, which is the supreme principle of morality, works for all people, and it urges each of us to act by making our personal maxims into universal laws through a sort of thought experiment. As Kant formulates it, “Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (GMS 4:421)
Both Mengzi and Kant promote human dignity which differentiates humans from animals; they propose that the origin of human dignity consists in a moral capability. Mengzi elevates human beings by acknowledging innate good human nature. Kant, also, points out that we humans have innate predispositions (Anlage) and a disposition toward good as native capabilities to be moral. In light of these similarities, I show that Mengzi and Kant are not too far from each other in regard to moral universality, innate good capabilities, and the personal accountability in moral matters, even though the term, freedom, is conspicuously lacking in Mengzi.
Bae, Je-Seong (Sungkyunkwan University)
"Two Competitive Models of 'the mind before activation' in Korean Neo Confucian Debate"
In the Song-Ming Neo-Confucian tradition, the “inactivated state of mind” (mibal 未發) was treated as an important theme. Some scholars in the Song Dynasty thought that the inactivated state is a kind of experience or awareness of human moral nature. Some other scholars claimed that the inactivated state refers to the moral essence of the human mind. On the other hand, Zhu Xi asserted that the inactivated mental state is an extremely calm state of mind, and a person in this condition is perfectly moral. How can the quiet state of mind be understood as morally good? First, according to Zhu Xi, in the mibal condition, human moral nature is fully manifested. Second, the state of mibal contains all the potential for good actions and responses. But, can we agree that the mind is perfectly moral just because in this state it is extremely quiet? If someone who was in mibal state did some bad action, can we still accept that the state of mibal was perfectly moral? Some Korean Neo-Confucians in 18th century disputed about such matters. Yi Gan argued that the mind is perfectly pure and moral in the state of mibal. Against Yi, Han Won-Jin held that although the mind in the inactivated state is very silent and clear, it still contains latent tendencies toward good or bad action. Both of these philosophers formalized their arguments within the orthodox principle (li 理) material force (qi 氣) paradigm. Their two views can be understood as competitive models for explaining the mibal state. By looking at these models, I seek to answer the following questions. What did mibal mean to Neo-Confucians? Why was mibal important to Neo-Confucians? Through this study, I expect to gain some significant insights into feature of Neo-Confucian moral cultivation.