Chu Hsi's "Introduction to the Subject Matter of the Elementary Learning" 66
Comments from Chu Hsi's Questions and Answers on the Great Learning 69
T'oegye's Comments 71
The Relationship of the Elementary Learning and the Great Learning 72
On Not Teaching the Elementary Learning to his Pupils 73
Mindfulness, the Classic of the Mind-and-Heart, and the Elementary Learning 75
The Four Characteristics of Heaven, the Mandate, and Human Nature 77
Material Force and the Difference Between the Sage and the Ordinary Man 79

The Elementary Learning is a compilation of 386 passages, a little more than half of which are drawn from the Classics and the remainder from the writings of outstanding Confucians of the post-classical period, including a liberal selection from the early Sung dynasty Confucians. Its purpose was to present the most fundamental teachings and values of the Confucian tradition for the instruction of the young; it includes extensive materials dealing with the Five Relationships,1 which constitute the core of traditional Confucian ethical teaching.

This work became the gateway to serious study for generation upon generation of Confucian scholars. In Korea it was considered virtually one of the Classics, and from the first decades of the Yi dynasty its memorization became a prerequisite for admittance to the lowest level of the civil service examinations.2 The high point of its importance was reached in the generation immediately preceding T'oegye's, when it became a symbol of the distinctive moral seriousness of the burgeoning Neo-Confucian movement. Kim Koengp'il (1454-1504), one of the foremost scholars and teachers of that period, made it his boast that he devoted himself exclusively to the Ele­mentary Learning until he was thirty years old and was a member of a club of prominent scholars and officials dedicated to maintaining and prac­ticing the principles taught in it.3

Although the Elementary Learning is generally attributed to Chu Hsi, the actual compilation was done at his direction by one of his disciples, Liu Ch'ing-chih (1139-1189); Chu Hsi himself then rearranged it, added a few passages, and wrote a preface and an introduction for it. His intro­duction constitutes the main portion of the text which accompanies this diagram.4

66          Diagram of the Elementary Learning

This chapter is much concerned with the relationship of the Ele­mentary Learning and the Great Learning, which is the topic of the next chapter. Or, better, one might say it is concerned with Chu Hsi's view of the character of the learning process and the interrelated nature of its two stages, the elementary learning in which the young are engaged and the "great" or "adult" learning pursued by young adults (see below, Com­mentary, first sec.). The two texts, the Elementary Learning and the Great Leaning, stand for these two stages, and the Chinese terms ta­hs6eh and hsiao-hsüeh are inherently ambiguous in this discussion, since they can be taken either as references to the stages or as titles of the two works which symbolize the stages. English language typographical convention forces a choice here; I have decided to italicize the terms only when the books are unmistakably the referent, for it is important to be aware that the discussion involves more than the relationship of two texts. In other cases I shall capitalize the terms, an indication that the books, particularly the Great Learning, hover in the immediate background, giving a very specific shape to the content of what might otherwise seem very general references to stages of the learning process.

Chu Hsi's "Introduction to the Subject Matter of the Elementary Learning"

Origination, flourishing, benefiting, and firmness are the constant characteristics of the Tao of Heaven; humanity, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom are the [inherent] guide­lines of human nature; in all of these, from the very beginning there is nothing which is not good. Thus like a verdant growth the Four Beginnings are stirred and move in response [to external phenomena] and appear.5 Loving one's parents, reverencing one's older brother, being loyal to one's ruler, and showing respect to elders is called "holding to one's inborn nature";6 [such conduct] is in accord [with one's natural dispositions], not forced.


68              Diagram of the Elementary Learning

But only the sage possesses the full, vigorous perfection of the inborn nature [in its pure, original condition]; without adding the slightest bit [of further perfection] to it, all goodness is already there in its fullness. The ordinary man is foolish and ignorant; the desire for things beclouds his vision and causes his inborn good qualities to decline, and he is content to thus do violence to himself and throw himself away.7 The sage, pitying this [miserable condition] set up schools and established teachers in order to fertilize the roots and make the branches arrive at their full growth.

The method in Elementary Learning was to have them sprinkle water and sweep [the hall], answer and respond [to questions],8 act filially in their homes and obediently when abroad, and to see to it that in their actions there would be no violation [of the rules of propriety]. With what energy was left from this, they recited poetry, read books, sang songs, and danced, so that in all their thoughts there would be no transgres­sion [of the proper norm].

As for exhaustively investigating principle and cultivating one's person [in this way], that was the matter for more advanced learning [i.e., it was taken up in schools for young adults]. [With the pursuit of such learning] the bright Mandate9 would shine forth; there would come to be no distinction between one's interior dispositions and external conduct; virtue would become lofty and one's accomplishments broaden, and one would finally recover the original [perfection of human nature].10

It was not due to some peculiar deficiency in the ancients [that such schooling was necessary]; how can we think that we now are more perfect [and have no need of it]? A great length of time has passed; the Sages perished, the Classics were dam­aged,11   and instruction became lax. The rearing of the young lacks a proper foundation, so as adults they just become the more given over to corrupt luxury. The villages no longer have good

Diagram of the Elementary Learning                     69

customs; the times are without men of fine talent; greed dizzies men and entangles them, and deviant teachings set up a great clamor.

Fortunately the inborn good nature of man will not perish as long as Heaven lasts; therefore I have collected together what has been heard of old, that it may serve to enlighten generations to come. Ah! Ah! Little ones! Receive this book with reverence; [it contains] not the feeble words of this old man, but only the teachings of the Sages.

Comments from Chu Hsi's Questions and

Answers on the Great Learning (Ta-hsüeh huo-wen)

Someone asked: "Now when you mean to speak about the Tao of Great Learning you also want people to reflect on Elementary Learning. Why is this?"

Master Chu said: "In learning, that which is great and that which is elementary certainly has its differences. Never­theless, as far as the Tao is concerned, it is one and that is all. Thus if when one is young he does not verse himself in it through Elementary Learning, he will not have the means to recover his errant mind and heart and foster the good qualities of his nature12 in order to lay the foundation for the Great Learning. And when one is an adult, if he does not advance to Great Learning, he will not have the means to discern moral principle and put it into practice in actual affairs, and thus receive the fulfilling of Elementary Learning ....

Now, as a young student one must first completely devote himself to sprinkling and sweeping, responding to questions and properly coming forward and retiring, and also become practiced in ritual, music, archery, charioteering, letters, and mathemat-

70             Diagram of the Elementary Learning

ics.13 Only after he has reached adulthood does he advance to clarifying virtue and renewing the people and thereby come to abide in perfect goodness [as is taught in the Great Learning].14 This is the order as it should be, and there is no reason it cannot [be followed in practice nowadays]!

[Someone] said . . . . "If one has already reached adulthood but has not attained [what is to be learnt in youth] . . . then what?"

[Master Chu] said: "Time. that has already passed by cer­tainly cannot be recovered. But as for the proper order and items of his study, how can that be taken to mean the deficiencies can no longer be remedied? I have heard it said that the single word, "mindfulness," is the means for accomplishing both the beginning and the final culmination of sage learning.15As for one engaged in Elementary Learning, if he does not proceed from this [basis], he will certainly not have the means to attend diligently to developing the proper moderation that is inculcated by sprinkling and sweeping, responding to questions, and prop­erly coming forward and retiring, or to devote himself to the proper instruction that is contained in the Six Arts [i.e., ritual, music, etc.]. And if one engaged in Great Learning does not proceed from a basis in mindfulness, he likewise will not have the means for developing his wisdom and moral understanding, advancing in virtue, and cultivating perfection in his activities so as to finally carry out the task of clarifying virtue and renewing the people ....

As for one who unfortunately has lost time and come late to the pursuit of learning, if he is sincerely able to apply himself to [the practice of mindfulness], he may thereby progress in that which is more advanced and not be hindered in simultaneously supplementing his deficiencies in that which is less advanced. In such a case the means by which he progresses is such that he need not be troubled about lacking the proper foundation and not having the capacity to attain success."16

Diagram of the Elementary Learning                    71

T'oegye's Comments

Formerly there was no diagram of the Elementary Learning; I have used its table of contents to make this diagram, which is meant to be paired with the diagram of the Great Learning. I have also quoted Chu Hsi's general discussion [of the relationship of] Great Learning and Elementary Learning which appears in his Questions and Answers on the Great Learning (Ta­-hsüeh huo-wen) in order to show the general nature of the ap­proach to applying one's efforts as it relates to these two. For Elementary Learning and Great Learning are mutually inter­dependent and complementary; in this respect they are one and yet two, two, and yet one. Therefore in the Questions and An­swers they can be encompassed in a single discussion and these two diagrams can be taken together as mutually completing one another.

72      Diagram of the Elementary Learning



The Relationship of the Elementary Learning and Great Learning

Most of the items included in T'oegye's Ten Diagrams are deeply rooted in his personal scholarly life. The Elementary Learning would appear to be the exception, however, for there is no indication that he was particularly devoted to this work as such, nor did he emphasize its importance as a subject for study for his disciples. The character of the comments he chooses for his text here seem to indicate that foremost in his mind is concern for the fundamental structural relationship of the work with the Great Learning. This is important because of its bearing on the interpretation of the Great Learning and of the learning/self-cultivation process in general. During T'oegye's lifetime Chu Hsi's views on these matters were being profoundly chal­lenged in China by the rise to prominence of the school of Wang Yang-ming.

Chu Hsi interpreted the Great Learning as delineating a twofold process of study (the "investigation of things") and self-cultivation or practice. While learning and practice are dialectically related and interdependent, analytically learning precedes practice, though learn­ing without practice is empty. Congruent with this interpretation is his view that the ancients had schools for the young which taught them the fundamentals of what is fitting for human beings and also inculcated habits in accord with these basic principles; more advanced learning, as instanced in the Great Learning, is simply the continuation of this twofold process on a more profound and mature level. While the Great Learning is a classical text representing this more advanced level, there was no text representing the more fundamental level, a lack remedied by the compilation of the Elementary Learning.

Wang Yang-ming argued that knowledge and practice are the same, a conviction which led him to a very different interpretation

Diagram of the Elementary Learning           73

of the Great Learning. " Further, he claimed that Chu Hsi later in life came to hold a similar position and abandoned his earlier emphasis upon the investigation of principle. T'oegye strongly disagreed, and adduced Chu Hsi's view of Elementary Learning, including the Ta-hsüeh huo wen passage presented in this chapter, as evidence of Chu Hsi's true position:

Furthermore, I would suggest that late in life Master Chu saw that many of his pupils were [excessively] bound up in textual studies, and so he strongly pointed to the original substance and moved his point of emphasis to the discussion of honoring the moral nature.18 But how could this mean that he meant to entirely abandon following the path of inquiry and study and so destroy principle [as it exists objectively] in things and affairs,19 as Yang-ming says! Yang-ming's wanting to adduce this in order to relate himself to Chu Hsi's views is erroneous. This is all the more [evident if you consider that] for one beginning Great Learning, Elementary Learning should precede, and that one who wishes to investigate [the principle ofJ things must devote himself to self-cultivation. This certainly was Master Chu's original intention; it appears in the Ta-hsiieh huo-wen and also in his letter in reply to Wu Huei-­shu.20 (A, 41.31a, p. 926)

The materials T'oegye has included in this chapter do not explore the contents of the Elementary Learning, but rather constitute an interpre­tive framework for the Great Learning that precludes the Wang Yang­-ming position. The philosophical significance of the relationship of these two works (or the two stages of the learning process which they represent) is his primary interest, for it provides an accurate under­standing of the nature of Chu Hsi's project at a time when it has been seriously challenged.

On not Teaching the Elementary Learning to his Pupils

In the Korean world of T'oegye's time Chu Hsi's thought was not thoroughly assimilated and related to practice; many got a reputation as scholars on the basis of lofty speculations, the emptiness

74          Diagram of the Elementary Learning

of which was reflected in the mishandling of their personal lives. One response of those closely attuned to the intense moral concern of the Neo-Confucian movement was a kind of back-to-basics focus on fun­damental moral teachings and practice as found in the Elementary Learning; this was exemplified by Kim Koeng-p'il and his club. T'oegye continued such moral concern, but without the fundamentalist ap­proach; this caused criticism among some who recognized him as a fellow spirit but could not understand what he was doing:

I have recently received a letter from Cho Nam-myŏng21 which says, "Looking at scholars nowadays, while their hands do not know the order of sprinkling and sweeping, their mouths chat about heavenly principle. They plan to steal the reputation [for learning] and use it to deceive others; but on the contrary they are the ones that get injured, and the damage reaches others as well. How can this but be cause for one who is a teacher and senior to reprimand them and put a stop to this! I ask that you entirely suppress and admonish them." Although this thesis has faults, we cannot but seriously caution ourselves and be diligent, and so I am informing you of it, that is all. (A, 35.27a, p. 809, Letter to Yi Koengjung22)

While the form of the letter asks T'oegye to correct others, it is implicitly a criticism of T'oegye's own teaching practice, as indicated by comments of his Pupils.23 The "fault" in Cho's view is the impli­cation that Neo-Confucian metaphysics is somehow a lofty matter rather than a means to everyday moral cultivation. T'oegye's own view is quite the contrary:

In general those who study, with regard to that which is before physical form (i.e., principle) and that which is after physical form, always want to divide them and treat them as two [different things]. They only recognize that the things and affairs of daily life are after physical form, and do not recognize that in the midst of the things and affairs of daily life, there is also encom­passed in their interior what is referred to as being before physical form. Therefore when it comes to that which is before physical form, they look for it in some mysterious, profound, ecstatic condition. This can be described as not yet being able to abide in mindfulness and exhaustively investigate principle, or perfectly understand the subtle and minute. (A, 32.13a, p. 749, Letter to U Kyŏngsŏn)

Diagram of the Elementary Learning                 75

T'oegye's pupils were not children, and he did not feel constrained to start them on the rudiments of the Elementary Learning, but rather tried to construct a systematic foundation in terms of the Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate and the Western Inscription. His remedy for Cho's problem is rather an emphasis on the ordinariness and mundane appli­cability of the "lofty" philosophy of principle. The framework of this philosophy opens new vistas, but the profound understanding and outstanding perfection that becomes available through serious appli­cation to this Tao is, in the end, nothing apart from the profundity and perfection of ordinary life:

In sum, the Confucian way of learning is that in order to ascend to lofty heights one must begin with the lowly, to travel afar one must begin with what is near. Indeed, to begin from the lowly and near certainly is a slow process; but apart from this, whence comes the lofty and distant! In applying one's efforts to gradual advancement one attains what is lofty and distant without parting from what is lowly and near; it is in this that it is different from Buddhist and Taoist learning. (A, 19.26b, p. 479, Letter to Hwang Chunggŏ)

As we shall see, this is an emphasis which runs throughout his work. His pupil Chŏng Yuil25 sums it up: "The master's discussions and explanations of moral principle were always clear and exact; he never spoke in abstruse, profound, and mysterious terms" (ŎHN, 5.14a, B, p. 856).

Mindfulness, the Classic of the Mind-and-Heart, and the Elementary Learning

T'oegye's lifelong devotion to Chen Te-hsiu's Classic of the Mind-and-Heart is well known (see Introduction "T'oegye's Learn­ing"). This work, which is a compendium of sayings dealing with virtually every aspect of mindfulness, played a role in T'oegye's life similar to the role of the Elementary Learning in Kim Koeng-p'il's, and

76              Diagram of the Elementary Learning

in his teaching it virtually supplants the Elementary Learning as an introduction to the fundamentals of practice:

[Kim Su]26 asked: "Of the Elementary Learning, the Reflections on Things at Hand, and the Classic of the Mind-and-Heart, which is most essential?" The Master replied: "In the Elementary Learning both substance and function are complete; in the Reflections on Things at Hand moral principle is subtle and minute; one cannot but read both. But as for the matter to which one who is first beginning to study should apply himself, nothing is more essential than the Classic of the Mind-and Heart. "(ŎHN, 1.Sb, B, p. 791)

Mindfulness (and hence the Classic) is the essential practical foundation of both Elementary Learning and the Great Learning. To bring this out, T'oegye in the Ten Diagrams does not stop the citation from the Huo-wen with the remarks that relate these two works, but continues it to include Chu Hsi's remarks on the remedial capacity of mindfulness for one who has missed the early introduction to the Elementary Learning. He remarked to King Sŏnjo: "Therefore Master Chu, in the first page of the Ta-hsiieh huo-wen, regards Elementary Learning as the foundation of Great Learning, and as for the practice which runs throughout both and unites them, then he further regards mindfulness as the great foundation." (ŎHN, 1.8b, B, p. 792).

Mindfulness, the disciplined restraint and self-control which is manifested as both physical and mental self-possession, is the fun­damental method which T'oegye makes the central theme of the Ten Diagrams. It is inculcated through the basic ethical cultivation of the Elementary Learning and at the same time becomes the condition for advancement in both cultivation and understanding at even that level. It becomes the sine qua non for the more sophisticated, metaphysically grounded investigation of principle and the broad scope of cultivation with which the Great Learning brings the process to completion. Since both levels are essentially concerned with moral understanding and practice, application to the intellectually and socially more mature level of the Great Learning will supplement gaps in the elementary foundation if-and only if-one can approach it with the disciplined self-possession which would ordinarily be the product of this elemen­tary training.

Diagram of the Elementary Learning                     77

The Four Characteristics of Heaven, The Mandate, and

Human Nature

The first line of Chu Hsi's introduction to the Elementary Learning describes the correlation between the four characteristics of Heaven and the virtues which constitute human nature. This expresses the philosophy of principle in terminology and categories which had long since become deeply rooted in Confucian discourse.

Mencius, in establishing the goodness of human nature, de­scribed "four beginnings" (commiseration, shame and dislike for evil, yielding and deference, and a sense of right and wrong) as inherent qualities which if nurtured developed into the virtues of humanity, righteousness, propriety and wisdom;27 these virtues thus become the essential features of human nature. The Book of Changes begins its comments on the Ch'ien (Heaven) hexagram with the words, "Orig­ination, flourishing, benefiting, firmness (yüan, heng, li, chen)," which are taken as the essential characteristics of Heaven; they are reflected in the cycle of the four seasons, beginning with spring.28 Early cos­mological speculations developed largely outside of the Confucian school in the originally distinct schools of thought that centered on yin and yang and the Five Agents. But during the Han dynasty(206 s. c. -220 A. D.) all of these elements were incorporated into a Confucian syn­thesis in which categories of correspondences between the Heavenly characteristics, seasons, yin and yang, the Five Agents, and much else, connected the macrocosm of the universe with man as micro­cosm. Symmetry between the fours and the fives was achieved by making Earth the center of a four-cornered arrangement of the Five Agents (see the Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate), correlating it with the constancy or "sincerity" of Heaven and the virtue of faithfulness, which was added to Mencius' original list of the four essential human qualities.

This powerful traditional synthesis was not overturned by the Neo-Confucians; they rather incorporated it and reformulated it as an expression of the transcendent unity of principle. Thus the explanation of the organic unity of the universe moves from cosmology to meta­physics, and the goodness of human nature is transcendently grounded

78          Diagram of the Elementary Learning

in the goodness of Heaven (i.e., principle). Toegye expresses the essentials of the Neo-Confucian version as follows:

Heaven is principle, and it has four characteristics: origination, flourishing, benefiting, and firmness. For origination is the principle of beginning, flour­ishing is the principle of pervasive continuation, benefiting, the principle of accomplishing, and firmness the principle of fulfillment. And that whereby these revolve unceasingly [as in the four seasons] is that all are endowed with the wondrous quality of real truth in which there is no deceit, and this is called sincerity. Therefore when the two and five [i.e., the material force of yin and yang and the Five Agents] begin to act, these four are always present in their midst and are the source whence things are ordained.29 Thus all things received the material force of yin and yang and the Five Agents as constituting their physical form, and there is none which is not endowed with the principles of origination, flourishing, benefiting, and firmness as constituting their natures. There are five categories in their nature: humanity, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and faithfulness. Therefore the four char­acteristics [of Heaven] and the five constant [virtues of the nature], that which is above and that which is below, are the one principle; there has never been a discrepancy between Heaven and man [in this regard]. (Ch'onmyong tosol,   ch. 1, B, 8.12b, pp. 140-141)30

The traditional correspondences are readily explained in terms of the unity of principle and serve likewise to substantiate it. But the four(five)-fold categorization of correspondences must also be related to the ultimate unity of principle in order to complete the translation of traditional cosmology into the philosophy of principle. T'oegye does this in his annotation to the above passage:

Principle is originally one; how do its characteristics become four? The re­sponse is that principle is the Supreme Ultimate. In the midst of the Supreme Ultimate there is originally no thing or affair, so at first how could there be four characteristics which can be [distinctly] named? But if one considers the matter after activity has commenced, then there necessarily must be a be­ginning; if there is a beginning there must be its pervasive continuation; if there is pervasive continuation there must be its accomplishment; if there is accomplishment there must be its fulfillment. Therefore it begins and con­tinues, continues and accomplishes, accomplishes and fulfills, and the names of the four characteristics are established. Thus if one speaks of them as

Diagram of the Elementary Learning                   79

combined, then there is the one principle and that is all; if one speaks of them separately, then there are these four principles. Therefore Heaven by means of the one principle ordains all creatures, and each creature has the one principle. (Ch'ŏnmyŏng tosŏl, ch. 1, B, p. 141)

Material force and the Difference Between the Sage and the Ordinary Man

Principle is one, but differences in material force give rise to different levels (kinds) of creatures in proportion as the quality of their endowment obstructs or allows the full manifestation of prin­ciple. The same explanation accounts for human differences, such as the perfection of the sage or the more problematic condition of the ordinary man that Chu Hsi mentions in his introduction. T'oegye says:

The Way of Heaven is perfectly impartial, and in our being endowed with different degrees of purity and impurity, it is not that there is favoritism. The material force of yin and yang and the Five Agents moves revolvingly, mixing together, descending and ascending back and forth; it becomes con­fused and mixed with myriad differences. When it wonderfully fuses at the moment of forming things, the types of material force each meets with cannot but have inequalities of purity and impurity, perversity and correctness. (A, 38. 7a, p. 863, Letter to Cho Kibaek)

This general explanation can be pursued on a more precise level of differentiation and typology. In the following passage T'oegye pursues the qualitative differences of material force in terms of the basic po­larity of the material force spectrum, the rarified, "spiritual" stuff of Heaven (basically yang) which constitutes man's psychic endowment, and the more coarse stuff of earth (basically yin) which constitutes man's physical aspect. In this context the former is referred to as ki (Chinese, ch'i-the term usually translated as "material force") and the latter as chil (Chinese, chih):

80             Diagram of the Elementary Learning

Thus in the production of man, he is endowed with ki from Heaven, and Heaven's ki has [differences of] clarity and turbidity; he is endowed with chit from earth, and the chit of earth has [differences ofJ purity and impurity. Therefore one who is endowed with both the clear and the pure is the most excellent wise man; as regards heavenly principle, the most excellent wise man's knowing it is clear and his practicing it is likewise perfect. He is naturally at one with Heaven. One who is endowed with a combination of the clear [ki] and the impure [chil] or the turbid [ki] with the pure [chit] is a person of the middle sort. As regards heavenly principle, the middle person of the one kind has a surplus of knowledge but his practice is insufficient, while the other kind is insufficient in knowledge but has a surplus [of ability] for practice. At the beginning these men are [in some respects] at one with Heaven [and in others] contrary to it. One who is endowed with both turbid [ki] and impure [chit] is the most foolish person. As regards heavenly principle, the most foolish person's knowledge of it is darkened and his practice is likewise perverse. He is greatly contradictory to Heaven.31 (Ch'ŏnmyŏng tosŏl, ch. 9, B, 8.19a, p. 144)

However, this does not imply any kind of determinism or fatalism; one can by diligent practice modify one's endowment. The extent to which the problem is objectively grounded in the elements of one's psycho-physical constitution indicates the difficulty of the task and prepares one for long and strenuous efforts. At the same time this explanation inspires; for the first time Confucians have objectively, almost physiologically, described what makes one a sage and described how there is really a continuum between the sage and the ordinary man. Sagehood becomes an ideal at which one might actually hope to arrive-or at least not miss by much-if one approaches the task with the utmost seriousness.


3. Diagram of the Elementary Learning

1. The Five Relationships are those presented in the diagram under the heading, "clarifying relationships." The locus classicus for this formulation is Mencius, 3A: 4. The quality appropriate to the relationship of friends is classically and tradi­tionally expressed as "faithfulness"; there is no explanation of which I am aware as to why it has been changed to the noncommittal "intercourse" in the heading of this section of the Elementary Learning.

2. This was initiated at the suggestion of Kwŏn Kŭn (1352-1409). Kwŏn was one of the most prominent Neo-Confucian scholars during the transition period between the Koryŏ and Yi dynasties.

3. Hyŏn Sangyun, Choson yuhak sa (History of Korean Confucianism), p. 36.

4. The text of this Introduction (Hsiao-hsüeh t'i-tzu) is to be found in CTTC, 76.19a-b; it is identical with the text as presented in the Ten Diagrams.

5. The "Four Beginnings" were first described by Mencius in the course of

Notes to pp. 66-70                   231

his argument that human nature is good. Cf. Mencius, 2A: 6. The correlation of these with the four characteristics of Heaven is discussed below, Commentary, "The Four Characteristics of Heaven, the Mandate, and Human Nature."

6. Mencius, 6A: 6.

7. Mencius, 4A: 10 describes those who disregard humanity and righteousness as doing violence to themselves and throwing themselves away.

8. This description refers to Analects, 19:12.

9. The "bright Mandate" refers to the Mandate of Heaven. The doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven originally was a legitimation of the king's right to rule, based on his receipt of the Mandate, but the concept was broadened to cover Heaven's ordination with regard to human affairs-Fate, in some contexts, but the moral imperative in the context of moral discourse. The first line of the Doctrine of the Mean was of crucial significance for Neo-Confucians, who interpreted human nature in terms of this moral imperative (i.e., principle): "What Heaven mandates is called our nature; to follow our nature is called the Tao."

10. This paragraph sums up the teleology of all learning, elementary or advanced. But it pertains particularly to the Great Learning insofar as it more specif­ically describes the culmination of the process of study and self-cultivation.

11. A reference to the infamous "burning of the books," a literary proscription in which the First Emperor of the Chin dynasty at the instigation of the legalist philosopher, Li Ssu, in 213 B.C. ordered the destruction of all philosophical and historical works; only books in the Imperial Library (later destroyed), the history of his own dynasty, and practical works such as those on medicine and divination were to be preserved. Just how much was lost forever in this persecution can never be known, but the most important classical works survived, and the overall impact of this episode upon the literary heritage of China may well be exaggerated. It did, however, mark a definite end of the creative and multifaceted work of the many diverse philosophical schools which flourished in the disorganized society which pre­ceded the Chin unification of the Chinese empire.

12. Allusions to Mencius, 6A: 11 and 7A: 1, respectively. See the diagram in chapter 8, below, which schematically presents much of the Neo-Confucian ter­minology relating to self-cultivation. As a glance at the sources of that diagram's phrases will show, the greater part of Neo-Confucian technical terminology on this topic is drawn from Mencius and relates to well-known passages in that work.

13. The traditional "six arts" of Chinese education as enumerated in the Chou li, ch. 14.

14. This refers to the first sentence of the Great Learning. The text is presented by T'oegye in chapter 4 of the Ten Diagrams.

15. Chu Hsi was fond of the statement that mindfulness is both the way of making a beginning and achieving the final completion, and repeats it frequently. Here it would appear that it is a quotation; the most likely source for such a saying would be the ECCS, but I have been unable to locate a passage worded in this way. Possibly he is referring in a summary way to the teaching of the Ch'engs on mind­fulness, which indeed describes it as fundamental to the whole process of learning.  See, for example, the many passages on the topic cited in the Chin ssu lu, ch. 4 (Chan tr., Reflections pp. 123-153).

16. Ta-hsüeh huo-wen, lb-3a. The passage has been somewhat abbreviated by T'oegye. I have indicated the omitted portions by dots in the text.

17. A key phrase, "ko wu," is interpreted by Chu Hsi as "reach to things," i.e., approach and investigate them-the "investigation of principle" which is es­sential to his philosophy. Wang interprets it rather as "rectify things," the essential thing for him being not study, but actively applying and practicing what one already knows innately. See his Ch'uan-hsi lu, sec. 137 (Instructions for Practical Living, Wing­tsit Chan, tr., pp. 102-106).

18. "Honoring the moral nature (tsun hsing)" is paired in Neo-Confucian parlance with "following the path of inquiry te- and study" (tao wen-hsüeh). The former phrase refers to the practical application to self-cultivation, the latter to the study and investigation of principle; together they express the two aspects of the learning process as conceived by Chu Hsi.

19. "Destroying principle" reflects T'oegye's view of what Wang is actually doing by emphasizing the subjective possession of principle in the mind and disre­garding the need to study it externally in things and affairs.

20. For this letter, see CTTC, 42.16a-17b. It is an important discussion of the relation between study and practice, and the relationship of the Elementary Learning and Great Learning is discussed in this context.

21. The personal name of Cho (1501-1572) was Sik, and his courtesy name was Konjung. Nammyŏng was his honorific name. When younger he studied literature, but later came to Neo-Confucian studies and secluded himself for many years, devoting his efforts to cultivating mindfulness. He came to enjoy a high reputation as a scholar and was repeatedly recommended for official posts, though he avoided them to remain in retirement.

22. The personal name of Yi (1541-1596) was Tŏkhong; Koengjung was his courtesy name and Kanjae his honorific name. He was one of T'oegye's leading disciples and in 1578 was honored as fourth among nine men especially selected for office on the basis of outstanding learning. He was noted for his learning on the Book of Changes, and wrote commentaries on a number of works, including the Heart Classic. An account of him may be found in the Tosan munhyŏn nok (Record of T'oegye's Disciples), TGCS, B, 3.19a-27a, p. 987-991.

23. See ŎHN, 1.20b, TGCS, B, p. 798. T'oegye's own letter in response to Cho (TGCS, 10.4b-6a, A, pp. 283-284) treats it entirely as a proposal that T'oegye correct others and purify public life. In his reply T'oegye argues that there are a number of different degrees of culpability; one cannot tar them all with the same brush, and in any case it is not fitting for a scholar to thus set himself up in judgment over others, nor is it practicable to try to purge them from public life. The tone of these remarks contrasts strongly with the rigid moralism that had proved self­destructive to earlier Neo-Confucians in Yi dynasty public life.

                  25. The courtesy name of Chŏng (1533-1576) was Chajung, and his hon­orific name was Munbong. He passed the highest civil service examination in 1558   and was highly reputed as both a philosopher and poet, but his writings were lost during the 1592 Japanese invasion. An account of him may be found in the Tosan munhyŏn nok, 2.31a-33a, TGCS, B, pp. 972-973. During his official career he served as Censor General and Minister of the Board of Personnel.

26. The courtesy name of Kim Su (1537-1615) was Cha'ang, and his hon­orific name was Mongch'on. He passed the highest civil service examination in 1573 and in his official career served as governor in several provinces and also served as State Councilor and Minister of the Board of Taxation. An account of him appears in the Tosan munhyŏn nok, 3.40a-41b, TGCS, B, pp. 997-998.

27. See Mencius, 2A: 6.

28. The life-force, associated with yang, arises in spring, pervades and makes all things flourish in summer; the benefits are harvested in fall, and winter, "firmness," is the season when this force is stored up in the earth, preparing to begin the cycle anew in the spring.

29. Myŏng (Chinese, ming), the term here translated as "ordained," is a reference to the Mandate (myŏng) of Heaven (see above, note 8).

30. The Ch'ŏnmyŏng tosŏl (Diagrammatic Explanation of the Mandate of Heaven) was originally the work of Chŏng Chiun (1509-1561). T'oegye felt the work needed correction and worked with Chŏng on revising it; he made such extensive correction and revision that it is now considered virtually his work. It is a useful exposition of fundamental Neo-Confucian doctrines, but the work's chief claim to fame is that it contains a statement correlating the Four Beginnings and Seven Feelings with principle and material force respectively, a statement which touched off the historic Four-Seven Debate with Ki Taesŭng (see below, chapter 6).

31. The typology of three categories of man has a long tradition; Neo­Confucians were particularly aware of the elaboration of this theme by the Neo­Confucian precursor, Han Yü (768-824), of the Tang dynasty. Han's description may be found in Wing-tsit Chan's Sourcebook, pp. 451-553; on earlier versions of this theme, see Chan's comments, Sourcebook, pp. 276 and 453-454.