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Ideas of self and self-cultivation in Korean Neo-Confucianism Ralston, Michael Keith

Abstract

This study examines ideas of self and self-cultivation as developed during the first half of the Choson Dynasty (1392-1911) by focusing on introductory texts or commentaries, diagrams, or Korean annotations on the Great Learning. Moreover, given that much of this material is pedagogical, how and to whom these ideas were presented will also be examined. The scholars examined here were leading thinkers during the first half of the Choson Dynasty— Kwon Kun (1352-1409) helped introduce and lay the intellectual framework of Ch'eng-Chu Neo-Confucianism in the early period of the Choson Dyansty. T'oegye (1501-1570) is often seen as the foremost Confucian scholar of the Choson period. His ideas served as the foundation of a major school of thought during the Choson Dyansty, the Yongnam school. The last scholar, Yulgok (1536-1584), is also seen as one of the great scholars of the period. His ideas form the basis of the other major school of thought in Korean Neo-Confucianism- the Kiho school. Examining the ideas of these thinkers will reveal how ideas of human nature and self-cultivation developed and changed over the early course of the Choson Dynasty and how and to whom these ideas were presented. Errata available at: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/70672

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