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Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics$
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Wm. Theodore de Bary

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153973

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153973.001.0001

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The Contemporary Meaning of T’oegye’s Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning

The Contemporary Meaning of T’oegye’s Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning

(p.335) 25 The Contemporary Meaning of T’oegye’s Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning
Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics

Michael C. Kalton

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses Yi T'oegye's Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning (Seonghak sipdo), which stands as one of the masterpieces of Neo-Confucian thought. In ten diagrams, he leads us from a grand vision of the cosmos into ethics and the question of how we should educate ourselves and spiritually cultivate our inner lives to realize the fullness of our natural endowment, concluding with a description of what a well-lived day might look like. This chapter asks: Can we still learn from T'oegye given the very changed circumstances of our times, or is his Ten Diagrams only of historical interest, a record of the thoughts of a good and wise man who belongs to a past age? It follows the order of T'oegye's Ten Diagrams, discussing the meaning of each and how it relates to the much changed circumstances of the twenty-first century. It argues that the Ten Diagrams explores for the contemporary mind the human ramifications of existing in what science tells us is a relational web. It raises challenging questions regarding the way that we live that T'oegye could not have imagined: advertising, entertainment, constant stimulation, multitasking, the plugged-in life, economic growth, and the whole meaning of “development”.

Keywords:   Yi T'oegye, Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning, Seonghak sipdo, Neo-Confucianism

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