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

Is the Morality of Human Beings Superior to the Morality of Non-Human Beings? : Debate over Human versus Animal Nature in the Joseon Period

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2011, v.51 no.1, pp.72-96
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2011.51.1.72

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Abstract

Confucian scholars of Joseon Korea carried out a philosophical debate on what they referred to as the original nature of humans versus non-human beings including animals. This debate arose from the correspondence between two followers of the Zhu Xi School in Korea, Oeam and Namdang, in 1709. The main question of the debate was whether humans and other beings including animals have equal natures. Following them, many scholars engaged in the debate, dividing into two groups: Nak-ron 洛論 and Ho-ron 湖論. Nak-ron scholars thought that the original nature of humans and other non-human beings was equal. Ho-ron scholars thought that the original nature of humans was different than that of other beings. According to Nak-ron opinion, animals inherently possessed a morality equal to the morality of humans. According to Ho-ron opinion, animals also possessed a morality; however, because the temperaments of animals were considered inferior to those of humans, the morality of animals was also considered inferior to the morality of humans.

keywords
humans non-human beings morality superiority and inferiority inmulseong dongi ron Horak debat

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