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A Colonial Intellect's Approach to Confucianism and Modernism : the Case of Gidang(幾堂) Hyeon Sang-yoon(1893~1950)

  • The Review of Korean History
  • 2011, (104), pp.199-229
  • Publisher : The Historical Society Of Korea
  • Research Area : Humanities > History

염복규 1

1국사편찬위원회

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article looks into the life of Hyeon Sang-yoon, one of model intellects of the colonialist era of Korea, who traversed tradition and modernism, and analyses his ideas of confucianism. Hyeon, born to a traditional confucian scholars' family, was introduced to modern education when he was a teenager, and studied abroad in Japan after Joseon was put under the Japanese colonial rule. Although he participated in the March 1 Independent Movement, he wasn't actively involved in activism again but pursued a career of scholar and educator at the Joong-ang School. Therefore he can be classified as one of the pragmatists, headed by Inchon Kim Seong-soo, etc., who urged the colonial Koreans give priority to cultivating nation's power first rather than demanding an immediate independence from Japan. As a young scholar, Hyeon tried to find a way to overcome the present conditions through criticizing the confucian tradition and introducing modernism. However, he didn't plunged himself to modern ideas, rather pursued an immanent understanding and systemizing of confucianism. In a sense, he was hardly severed from the umbilical cord of traditional education and his modernized version of confucianism couldn't get much further from his early criticism of old ideas. In this sense, Hyeon showed an example of colonial intellects, who had an immanent understanding of traditional confucianism, but tried to find a new way by breaking away from traditional ideas.

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