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

Comparison between Confucian Democracy of Dasan Jeong Yak-yong and Modern Democracy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2017, v.57 no.1, pp.153-174
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2017.57.1.153

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Abstract

One salient feature of modern democracy is that people elect their head of state, either directly or indirectly. This popular democracy is the result of revolutions in England, the USA, and France. However, this feature is also present in Confucian democracy as asserted by the Korean thinker Dasan Jeong Yak-yong. As such, this article presents a comparative analysis of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a founding framer of modern democracy, and Dasan, a Korean Confucian and democratic thinker. Rousseau argued that the people had the right to elect their sovereign directly and dismiss him if he harmed peace and equality in the city-state (in this case, Geneva). However, Dasan claimed that lords chosen by the people had the right to elect the ruler and remove or even execute a tyrant if it were justified. Although Dasan and Rousseau did not influence each other, they made the common argument that the people had a right to elect and remove their chief. Rousseau stated that the people could elect their ruler directly, but that they should remove that ruler in a peaceful way through an assembly. Dasan suggested that the people elect their ruler indirectly and remove a tyrant through justified revolution. Their respective conceptions of democracy both presuppose that the ruler should act on behalf of the people. Thus, this article analyzes the claims of these two thinkers when a ruler causes misery to the people.

keywords
Confucianism democracy people popular will ruler revolution

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