S-Space Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies (규장각한국학연구원) Korean Culture (한국문화) Korean Culture (한국문화) vol.48 (2009)
조선 후기 儒學者의 『大學』 이해
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 규장각한국학연구원
- 한국문화, Vol.48, pp. 205-222
- One of the three doctrines of the Great Learning(大學) is illustrious virtue (明德), about which late Joseon scholars held diverse opinions. Some interpreted illustrious virtue as the heartor original nature, while others understood it as the heart presiding over human nature(性) and feelings(情). Some viewed illustrious virtue as the principle(理) or material force(氣), and still others as a combination of the principle and material force.
Yi Jae, a scholar of the Nangnon Faction, considered illustrious virtue to be the original heart, a view advocated by both Noh Hyo-son and Yi Yi. In contrast, Han Won-jin of the Horon Faction claimed that illustrious virtue is merely heartand as such, they are not two separate things. And Han Won-jin’s friend Yun Bong-gu viewed illustrious virtue as human nature because he differentiated between illustrious virtue and heart.
As the debate over heart and human nature between the Horon and Nangnon scholars became fierce, a discussion arose as to whether the wisdom to distinguish matter(分數) and merits-demerits(優劣) reside in illustrious virtue and the divine heart without sundry thoughts(虛靈). Yi Jae and those who agreed with him did not think the wisdom to distinguish matter and merits-demerits reside in illustrious virtue and the divine heart without sundry thoughts, but Yun Bong-gu and those who agreed with him did. Yi Jae and his associates, who claimed the wisdom to distinguish matter and merits-demerits do not reside in illustrious virtue and the divine heart without sundry thoughts as well as illustrious virtue being original heart, considered the heart and body of a sage and an ordinary person to be alike in that they are good. On the other hand, Han Won-jin, Yun Bong-gu, and sympathizers viewed that there is good and bad in the heart and body because many the wisdom to distinguish matter and merits-demerits do reside in illustrious virtue and the divine heart without sundry thoughts, thereby acknowledging the difference between the heart of a sage and an ordinary person.
Jeong Yak-yong and his sympathizers, however, presented a new explanation about illustrious virtue. Most of all, he claimed that virtue is the name constructed by human nature and action. Moreover, he resolutely refused to accept Zhu Xi’s interpretation of illustrious virtue and interpreted it as filial piety, fraternal duty, and kindness. Jeong’s interpretation is theoretically based on the Rites of Zhou, but he was following the opinions of scholars from the preceding era such as Noh Hyo-son, Rae Ji-deok, Yun Hyu, Kwon Cheol-sin, and Yi Gi-yang. Following Jeong Yak-yong, Kim Yun-sik also said all considered illustrious virtue to be functions and included cultivation of the person, regulation of the family, right government of the State, and making the whole kingdom peaceful and happy within the dimension of illustrious virtue. The influence of this new interpretation of illustrious virtue by Jeong Yak-yong and Kim Yun-sik seems to have reached even Gwak Jong-seok of the end of Joseon dynasty. It is said that Gwak Jong-seok acknowledged illustrious virtue as heart but also claimed the body, human nature, feelings, and action must be included as well. This view of illustrious virtue seems to have been presented at a time when a search was made for a theory that accepted diverse cultures and things from the East and the West while appealing to the world of Joseon’s self-governance and independence.