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Reviving the Confucian Spirit of Ethical Practicality: Tasan’s Notions of Sŏng (‘Nature’) and Sim (‘Heart/Mind’) and their Political Implication

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents some broad outlines of Tasan's Confucian thought around the concepts of sŏng and sim. His deistic interpretation of the Lord on High as being sensitive to moral and human affairs allows him to give an ontological foundation to his theory on sŏng, or the original 'nature' of the human being. In the Confucian tradition, the notion of sŏng is constantly related to the way we understand the fundamental character of the human being, on which the theory of self-perfection depends. The Cheng-Zhu school proposed sŏng to be the basis of any human act, and that any human act is already programmed in an innate nature. Tasan's position on this subject in particular encapsulates some interesting points, not only for its challenging originality against the Neo-Confucian orthodox cosmology of the Cheng-Zhu school, but also in its reflection of the intellectual current and the political turmoil.

Keywords: Cheng-Zhu school; human act; Neo-Confucian orthodox cosmology; sŏng; sim; Tasan

10.1163/9789004265226_015
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