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4. Science and the Confucian Tradition in the Work of Chŏng Yak-yong

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Chapter Summary

There is no single subject to be identified as 'science' or 'science and technology' for late Chosŏn Confucian scholar Chŏng Yak-yong. But what did 'science' mean for him? What weight, in other words, did he give to his own knowledge and thoughts about these topics? In taking up this question this chapter tries to put the question in context, both of Chŏng Yak-yong's life and work and of the society he lived in. In doing so, it raises a number of related questions, consideration of which throws light on one's attempts to answer the original question, and will help one better understand Chŏng Yak-yong's thought and his place and significance in Korean history. His interest in science and the natural world could thus only be secondary to his primary concern, preserving and strengthening the Confucian tradition as the foundation for Chosŏn society. He did not have interest in scientific subjects.

Keywords: Chŏng Yak-yong; Chosŏn society; Confucian tradition; Korean history; science



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