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[Vol.23 (2015)] The Philosophy of Yi Hwang and World Peace
Author : LEE Sang ik
Date : 19.04.03
Page : 29-51
Keyword : Yi Hwang (a.k.a., Toegye ͢), peace, war, i-gi hobar ron Ѩۡ (Theory of I-Gi Mutual Dynamism), jigyeong (piety), gyeomyang (humility)
Abstract :

This study begans with a comparison between two approaches to peace: one suggested by Plato and the other by Thomas Hobbes. Believing that humans are animals of reason, Plato suggested a moral approach of using reason to control animal nature. In his view, peace would come as a natural consequence of our overcoming animal nature through the instrumental use of reason. In fact, however, there have not been very many people of character capable of overcoming their animal nature. Consequently, the world remained as chaotic as ever. Hobbes argued that to have no desire is to be dead. He therefore rejected the idea of a life led by controlling animal nature with reason. Hobbes appointed desire as sovereign and described reason as the capacity to calculate self-interest. Because he saw reasons self-interested calculation as essentially a series of calculated choices between the costs of war and the price of peace, Hobbes believed that people will gladly surrender some of their personal rights and enter into a social contract (i.e. a contract of peace) based on the calculation that peace brought greater benefits than war. Here, though, we find a trap: Self-interested calculation is based on the premise that anything can be done as long as it brings benefits to the perpetrator. It follows that any person or country accustomed to such reasoning will unhesitatingly start a war if victory can definitely be achieved at a low cost. This is why wars still erupt across the world today. It is here that we discover the significance of jigyeong (piety) and gyeomyang (humility). Yi Hwang (a.k.a., Toegye ͢) emphasized piety based on suppressing human desire and cherishing natural order; in the same way, piety rejects self-interest as a way of thinking, whether it be precise calculation or narcissistic miscalculation. Peace based on self-interested calculation is temporary and can be shattered at any time. Therefore, if we take the view that self-interested thinking must be overcome in order to attain genuine peace, the potential for this can be found in piety. Humility, meanwhile, means considering the benefits of others before ones own, based on satisfaction with ones own lot; in the same vein, it overcomes the will to compete with hostility against others, even if precise calculations lead to the conclusion that war would be a more profitable choice. If we take the view that the will for hostile competition itself must ultimately be overcome in order to attain real peace, the virtue of humility offers one way of achieving this.

Attachments : The Philosophy of Yi Hwang and World Peace(LEE Sang-ik) 29-51..pdf

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