HOME > 291호 > Opinion
   
Tasan, 19th Century Korea’s Confucian Classical Liberal
[291호] 2010년 05월 05일 (수) English Editor Joshua Snyder .

Chong Yagyong: Korea’s Challenge to Orthodox Neo-Confucianism by Mark Setton tells the story of Korea’s last great Confucian scholar, who lived from 1762 to 1836 and wrote under the nom de plume of Tasan, meaning “Tea Mountain.” The title of the book refers to the sage’s calls to reform Neo-Confucianism by eschewing its metaphysical ponderings and returning to the humanistic and practical teachings of Confucius and Mencius. He sought to show that “this prevailing ‘orthodoxy’ was, in important ways, unorthodox.”

Although he is remembered and respected by his countrymen today as a reformer and even visionary, due to his being on the wrong side in a dispute over royal succession and his familial ties to the newly introduced Catholic religion (his brother was one of the first martyrs), in 1801 Tasan found himself stripped of his government position and spent the rest of his life in lonely exile near the Tea Mountain that gave him his name. While in exile, “the sympathies he had for the economic and social difficulties of the peasantry” and well as his concerns about “concentration of power” (pg. 65) and “the ineptitude of the scholar-bureaucrats” (pg. 109) became more pronounced. However, the chief “reform” he was interested in, as we will see, was in “the cultivation of self” (pg. 67).

As a young man, Tasan was influenced by his reading of The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven by Matteo Ricci, S.J., the Apostle to China, and was baptized as “John.” His faith later lapsed, however, but Tasan nevertheless remained “monotheistically inclined, and [his] depiction of the Confucian Heaven as a personal being stood in sharp contrast to [the Neo-Confucian] interpretation of Heaven as principle” (pg. 50).

“Tasan’s monotheistic interpretation of Shang-ti [Heaven] as an entity with ethical predilections responsive to, and involved in, human affairs” (pg. 77) led Tasan to speak of “human beings as a subtle combination of spirit and physical form, their natures being the appetites or propensities exhibited by these dual aspects” (pg. 78). He was wary of cosmologies that “denigrated man’s status as a unique being with capacities unparalleled in the animal and plant kingdoms” (pg. 80). For Tasan, our “moral nature, which is transcendent in form” (pg. 81) is what makes us unique. Recognition of the resulting “internal struggle” led to “the great, and unprecedented, importance that Tasan placed on the role of free will, and particularly kwonhyong, the faculty or power of deliberation, which gave human beings the power to decide on moral courses of action” (pg. 83).

This “dynamic interpretation of human nature and virtue” led not only to his “outward-looking theory of self-cultivation” (pg. 108) but also served as the basis for his ideas on “the ordering of society” (pg. 109), these being the “dual goals of Confucian learning” (pg. 110). For Tasan and the Confucian tradition he belonged to, “the ordering of society was achieved through the power of moral example” (pg. 114). Here, the term chih-jen “is translated as ‘ordering society,’ as opposed to ‘governing society’” (pg. 182), which for Tasan “revolved entirely around moral example and had nothing to do with the ruler’s active involvement in the inculcation of values or the provision of resources” (pg. 115). Tasan put these words into the mouth of his ideal sage-king: “Once I have attained the highest goodness the people will follow me of their own accord and attain goodness. So the highest goodness of the people is not something which I can forcefully demand of them. ‘The practice of humanity depends on oneself. Does it depend on others?’” (ibid.). By quoting The Analects, XII, 1. to end the above passage, Tasan is reiterating one of the chief Confucian principles, rule not by force but by moral example.

Tasan was, in a sense, a populist. He rejected “the traditional assumptions that the educated class had a head start in the pursuit of virtue and thus enlightened leadership” and professed “an unprecedented confidence in the ability of the uneducated majority to choose virtuous leaders” (pg. 120). Ever wary of “abuse of power,” he “favored systems of government built upon populist principles that would discourage such abuse” and “qualitative change in political attitudes along the lines of classical political humanism” (pg. 121).

Tasan was perhaps as unaware of his contemporaries Edmund Burke (1729-1797) and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) as they were of him, but they were of a like mind in extolling liberty based in deep-rooted traditions.

English Editor Joshua Snyder의 다른기사 보기  
ⓒ 포항공대신문(http://times.postech.ac.kr) 무단전재 및 재배포금지 | 저작권문의  

     
전체기사의견(14)  
 
   * 200자까지 쓰실 수 있습니다. (현재 0 byte/최대 400byte)
   * 욕설등 인신공격성 글은 삭제 합니다. [운영원칙]
バ?バリ? コ?ト
2013-09-23 21:29:52
http://www.jidaiemaki.jp/site/
Beijing, experts say, because after centuries of wind and sun, some difficulty in identification.
sac lancel soldes
2013-11-03 02:09:32
http://medqual.fr/legal.php
Pleasing to find smooene who can think like that
sac lancel soldes http://medqual.fr/legal.php
lancel pas cher
2013-11-18 17:50:46
http://medqual.fr/legal.php
I am continually browsing online for ideas that can benefit me. Thank you!
lancel pas cher http://medqual.fr/legal.php
svizra hermes
2014-02-24 14:05:57
http://www.hjensen.com/images/how-to-buy-an-authentic-svizra-hermes-bag.aspx
hermes purse malaysia 포항공대신문
hermes belt for men
2014-03-02 22:56:00
http://bartonsclub93.com/hermes-belt-for-men-mens-hermes-belt-7192.asp
hermes bags taylor armstrong 포항공대신문
half truth yo
2014-03-06 13:30:56
http://halftruth2014.com
hey
hermes handbags prices
2014-03-10 06:25:36
http://barisoft.se/hermes-handbags-prices-hermes-celle-3509.aspx
where can i buy hermes bags 포항공대신문
hermes fashion
2014-03-11 00:27:52
http://nasse.dk/hermes-belt-uk-hermes-fashion-460.asp
hermes bags celebrities 4th of july 포항공대신문
hermes avalon blanket replica
2014-03-11 09:39:04
http://thegangesgroup.com/images/hermes-avalon-blanket-replica-and-bags-for-valentine.asp
hermes bags designs magazine dzgns 포항공대신문
hermes knockoff handbags
2014-03-11 18:11:23
http://silk.se/hermes-knockoff-handbags-hermes-samstag-9196.asp
hermes handbag outlet st peters 포항공대신문
shop hermes bags
2014-03-14 06:05:06
http://www.alpinski.dk/grafik/interioer/denmark-hermes-handbags-shop-hermes-bags-1134.asp
hermes bags auction draft strategy 포항공대신문
hermes fulda
2014-03-15 08:07:57
http://peterholck.dk/take-perfect-care-of-your-hermes-nummer-ladies-handbag.asp
hermes bags winter 2013 포항공대신문
hermes caleche
2014-03-17 13:45:47
http://icarecommunity.org/hermes-essen-hermes-caleche-4396.asp
hermes handbags amazon 포항공대신문
cute cheap handbags
2014-03-27 18:25:45
http://jackpotnevada.net/cute-economical-handbags-and-bags-for-valentine.asp
hermes website shoes 포항공대신문
전체기사의견(14)
About THE POSTECH TIMESOpinionAdvertise with usHelpprivacy
790-874 SAN 31. HYOJA-DONG. NAM-GU. POHANG. GYUNGBUK. KOREA | TEL 054-279-2622,2623
First Publication: Oct. 26, 1988 | Publisher: Baek Sung Ki | Editor-in-Chief: Park Sang Jun
Copyright 2009 포항공대신문. All rights reserved. mail to reporter@postech.ac.kr
s