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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

“Questions to the Creator” in Korean Intellectual History

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2009, v.49 no.2, pp.119-136
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2009.49.2.119

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to make sense of Yi Gyu-bo’s (1168-1241) seemingly religious and apolitical text, “Munjomul” (Questions to the Creator), as a political text, and to suggest its vision as a possible prelude to the Goryeo (918-1392)–Joseon (1392-1910) transition. If Neo-Confucianism articulates a political vision for the Joseon dynasty, one can construe that political vision as an answer to the previous dynasty’s long-lasting questions about the relation of the self and politics as the dominant political thought loses ground. To the extent that “Munjomul” shows the weakening state of the ideological foundation of Goryeo, it can be interpreted as the embodiment of the problem, the answer to which was statecraft thought and Neo-Confucianism in early Joseon. This paper sees that Yi Gyu-bo disconnected the link between politics and the power of the God, and foregrounded the issues of the self while Neo- Confucianism forged the link between the self and politics.

keywords
Yi Gyu-bo “Munjomul ” Neo-Confucianism Goryeo-Joseon transition “Ten Injunctions ” statecraft John Duncan Ancient Style Learning

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