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. 189-212
- An understanding of human nature plays a critical role in the thought of the Korean scholar Jeong Tasan (丁茶山, 1762-1836). Whether it be in terms of his contribution to the development of Confucianism or his relation to Western scholarship, it is necessary to reference his view of human nature before drawing any conclusions. What is unique about Jeong’s view of human nature was his idea of seom-gi-ho (性嗜好, nature as preference). Although this innovation on his part was commended by a wide range of scholars, it is still an open question whether this view stems from the Confucian tradition or a Western tradition. This paper will attempt to clarify that issue.
We will argue that from atheoretical perspective, Jeong’s view of human nature is distinct both from the one found in Matteo Ricci’s Tianzhu shiyi (天主實義) and the one put forward by DaiZhen (戴震, 1723-1777). From this we can see that the philosophy of sirhak (實學) advocated by Jeong based on his view of human nature represents a native Korean Confucianism different from that found in China. At the same time, though, Jeong viewed his thought as a return to “ susa learning”(洙泗之 學), an indication that he saw his views as being in line with the thought of Confucius and Mencius. In fact, a comparison of Jeong’s thought with Mencius’ views of the heart-mind (心) and nature shows that in terms of there theoretical positions, the two men belong to the same school of thought. As such, Jeong’s view of human nature is, in a sense, an attempt to bypass Zhu Zi (朱子) to get back to the original teachings of Mencius.