Criticism of Kang Youwei’s Thought on Confucianism in Late Joseon Dynasty 從周邊看中國——朝鮮晚期學者對康有為儒家思想的批判

Project: Research project

Project Details


In the call for modernization and reform in the late Qing Dynasty, Kang Youwei based on the motto “honoring Confucius,” drew on Western political theory to improve traditional Confucian thought, advocated policy and institutional reform, and thereby established the ideological foundation of the 1898 "Wuxu Reforms." Through examining the contact and exchange between Kang and scholars of Late Joseon Korea , this project proposes to explore the changes in the interpretation of the Chinese Confucian classics on the Korean Peninsula due to the late Joseon scholars’ criticism of Kang Youwei's philosophy. This cross-culture study aims to show that in their interpretation of the Confucian classics, the late Joseon scholars had already deviated from the methodology followed by Chinese scholars over the past 500 years. It also leads us to rediscover the unique perspectives of neighboring countries and their important roles in the study of Chinese Confucian classics.

Based on Kang Youwei's study of Confucianism, this project will explore the responses and new ideas of the late Joseon scholars. First, explain the Joseon scholars’ attitude toward Kang Youwei's philosophy in the context of the historical background of late Qing China. Second, based on Kang Youwei’s distinction between authentic and fake Confucian classics, discuss the Joseon scholars’ mindfulness toward the Confucian canon shown in their investigation into the authenticity of the “Ancient” and “Recent” texts of the classics 今古文經真偽. Third, from the perspective of progressivism advocated by Kang Youwei, analyze Joseon scholars’ skepticism on the “Understanding the Three Traditions” 通三統 and “View of Three Phases”張三世 in the Gongyang Commentary 公羊學. Fourth, from the political reforms advocated by Kang Youwei, explain the Joseon scholars' criticism of the Han dynasty theories of "the new king in Spring and Autumn" 春秋新王 and "reform by the commoner king"孔子改制. Fifth, from Kang Youwei’s pursuit of his social ideal of the "Great Harmony"大同, analyze the Joseon scholars’ elucidation of the principles of historical development and transformation in their interpretation of the Book of Rites 禮記.

In terms of the number of works on the Confucian classics, based on statistics gathered from Korea Study on Confucian Classics, Korean Literary Collection in Classical Chinese and documents and historical sources in Korean major libraries, more than 50 works directly discuss Kang Youwei's philosophy and involves the important Confucian classics. These are meaningful and valuable material in the research on the interpretation of Confucian classics in late Joseon Korea and into the modern era.
Effective start/end date1/01/2131/12/22


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