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[Vol.23 (2015)] The Paradox of Learning to become a Sage: Zhu Xi’s 朱熹 Reintegration of Sagehood and Governing the Wo
Author : MIN Byoung Hee
Date : 19.04.03
Page : 53-75
Keyword : Zhu Xi, sagehood, governing the world, process, paradox of learning to become a sage, reintegration of sagehood and governing the world
Abstract :

This article explains how Zhu Xi attempted to reintegrate sagehood and governing the world, one of the most serious political questions in the Confucian tradition. Facing the gap between moral authority and actual political power, Zhu Xi presented a new alternative for integrating sagehood and ideal governance. This article explores his idea of sagehood in connection to his new approach to governance. I pay particular attention to the paradox of “learning to become a sage,” since Zhu Xi’s teaching included a seemingly self-contradictory promise. For Zhu Xi, every human being has the universal potential to become a sage and anyone can be a sage through learning. However, Zhu Xi also held that in physical and historical reality it is impossible for humans to become a sage through learning. This contradiction shifts the focus of learning from the result of learning to the process of learning. Zhu Xi emphasized learning as a lifelong project and argued that individuals seeking sagehood should engage in the processes of right learning throughout their lives without interruption. According to him, the importance of learning to become a sage lies in following a path of moral learning rather than the possibility of realizing its ultimate goal. The most crucial notions of Zhu Xi’s philosophical system are also described through the metaphor of process. The investigation of things, the most fundamental basis of his learning, has the same contradiction as learning to become a sage. With such a philosophical system, Zhu Xi also claimed that the sagely governance prepared by Confucius was his learning per se. As a result, he attempted to reintegrate sagehood and statecraft by presenting the learning process as analogous to or identical with the governing process. One consequence of this, I argue, is that Zhu Xi’s learning process can also be seen as the process of governing the world in which it is a group of people with a shared purpose, rather than a single sage, who participate by committing to the lifelong project of learning to become a sage.

Attachments : The Paradox of Learning to become a Sage(MIN Byounghee) 53-75..pdf

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