S-Space Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies (규장각한국학연구원) Korean Culture (한국문화) Korean Culture (한국문화) vol.43 (2008)
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 규장각한국학연구원
- 한국문화, Vol.43, pp. 97-120
- The debate over the “four buddings” and “seven feelings” (or the “Four-Seven Debate”) is the most important intellectual dispute in the history of Korean Confucianism. This debate broke out at first between Yi T’oegye (1501-1571) and Ki Kobong (1527-1572), and then between Yi Yulgok (1536-1584) and Sung Ugye (1535-1598). This then caused a confrontation between two Confucian schools, namely the so-called “ li -centered school” and “ ki -centered school.” As a representative of the “ li -centered school,” Yi Hyeonil (1627-1704) wrote an article entitled “Criticism of Yi Yulgok’s views on the Four Buddings and Seven Feelings” and thereby defended Yi T’oegye’s points of view about the four buddings and seven feelings. Besides the preface and the postscript this article includes 19 paragraphs. Each paragraph is composed of a text from Yi Yulgok’s letters to Song Ugye and Yi Hyeonil’s own remarks thereupon.
In this paper, I analyze Yi Hyeonil’s remarks with a view to uncovering the threefold misunderstanding implicated in them. First, Yi Hyeonil was not aware that Zhu Xi’s interpretation of the four buddings and seven feelings did not conform to Mencius’ original position. Secondly, Yi Hyeonil neglected the fact that Yi T’oegye’s interpretation of the four buddings and seven feelings could not fit within the parameters of Zhu Xi’s learning, whereas Yi Yulgok adhered to Zhu Xi’s standpoint throughout. Thirdly, Yi Hyeonil did not realize that Yi T’oegye’s view on this topic was actually closer to Mencius’ view, just because it could not fit within the parameters of Zhu Xi’s learning.