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The structure of the Doctrine of the Mean in diagrams Shababo, Guy Shimon


This study examines how Neo-Confucian scholars of the Chosŏn dynasty used diagrams, focusing on diagrams that depict the structure of the Doctrine of the Mean. Ever since it was extracted from the Record of Rites by Zhu Xi, the Doctrine of the Mean proved to be an important subject of scholarship. Debates about the division of the text were often related to other important issues at hand. Thus, the diagrams concerned with this problem can be seen as a nexus where various issues meet. This study provides detailed information of two particular diagrams: Kwŏn Kŭn’s late 14th century “Diagram of the Opening Section of Doctrine of the Mean,” and Yi Chin-sang’s late 19th century “Diagram of Four Branches and Six Sections of the Doctrine of the Mean.” With five centuries between them, the two diagrams are surprisingly similar, sharing both visual language and many pre-suppositions. However, a close comparison of the two can reveal their differences, and the advancements made in diagram-making during the Chosŏn dynasty. The common methodology used to analyze diagrams is to discuss the form and the content of the diagram, usually in the context of the attached text. In a similar way, the sorting of diagrams into categories is done according to their visual aspect and their topic. Useful as it may be, this form of analysis is limited when dealing with complicated diagrams. By using the philosophy of C.S. Peirce, this study attempts to show how a three-fold view of a diagram as a symbol, an object, and an interpretation, can lead to better understanding of the diagram and its function. Furthermore, by applying the Peircian typology, a new division of diagram emerges.

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