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Ch’oe Han’gi and the philosophy of Ki : the problem of Korean philosophy Pek, Unsok

Abstract

What concerns me here is 'how cognitive changes were made' and 'how such changes affected a cognitive agent and a community of cognitive agents, in perceiving contents.' My thesis is, in this sense, a text-based case study of cognitive changes (to say, the phenomena of Enlightenment). In practice, this focuses on a Korean writer, Ch'oe Han'gi (1803-1877)'s works and their related literature, proceeding an inquiry into his intellectual changes through reading and writing practice of Asian and Western texts mainly of philosophy and sciences. For providing an account of Ch'oe's intellectual practice, I adopt basically the approach of cognitive-historical analysis and social epistemology that is used for my addressing some social and cultural dimensions of human cognition and the problem of communicating 'acquired cognition' (i.e. philosophical and scientific knowledge) among different historical, social and cultural contexts. Sweeping the starting ground with the broom of critical-linguistic analysis, I construe Ch'oe's original stylization of epistemology—his notion of cognition (experience through observation-inference-confirmation)— as an exemplary model for contemporary Korean philosophers who are trying to (re-)create 'Korean-style philosophy,' so as to contribute to philosophical activities in a global scale. Ch'oe's enlightenment was in complex ways formatted in the twilight zone between light from the West and from the East. So that could illuminate some constraints socially, culturally and historically imposed on individual choice in cognition in the West and the East, by mirroring the limitations of the self-confidently preserved substantial beliefs of both parties. Those beliefs had been assumed to be of universal applicability until their respective limitations were revealed when they encountered one another. Concluding my account of Ch'oe's enlightenment, I finally develop the 'verb-first-style epistemology' from Ch'oe's original insights. Therewith, I propose a way of having room for all sorts of selections on each individual's attributes, while reaping the benefits of synthetic practice via accommodating diverse lenses, perspectives from diverse fields in cognition.

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