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An Intellectual Asset to Be Reinterpreted -Prospect and Search in Studying the Practical Learningin the 21st Century-

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2009, (43), pp.133-157
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : December 19, 2008
  • Accepted : February 12, 2009

Kyoung mi Kim 1

1연세대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

The Practical Learning (sirhak) school of the late Chosŏn dynasty is characterized by richness in understanding human beings. The proposals by the sirhak scholars in the fields of norms and institutions, reforms in livelihood matters and legal system, and moral maturity reflect the changes in relations between social members and subjective individuals. Their social reform proposals represent the intellectual growth of subjective individuals living through the Chosŏn dynasty. The sirhak scholars, while humanizing human beings as subjective actors, continued to seek for the answers to what constitutes human beings. Moreover, they tried to observe and define humans in light of their mutual relations rather than as self entity. The scholarly orientation of the sirhak scholars was toward constructing subjective view of human beings based on the self-awareness to foster spirits of humanism. They illustrated human beings devoted ethical behaviors and social harmony, and had a belief in sociability and reciprocity in human existence. Therefore, their first task was to transform themselves before advancing to bring any innovation to the society and culture of their time. Humanities in the 21century may look for ways how to achieve harmonious co-existence between human and natural worlds, and how to gain ideologies and ethics needed to preserve human subjectivity. To get inspirations for conducting these tasks, we may turn to the revival and reinterpretation of the humanistic tradition of Korea based on the Practical Learning. The new study of the Practical Learning of Korea aims at seeking ways how to realize fully human dignities and values as well as how to live an aesthetics life. In such study, it may be hoped that a new paradigm of ‘life-centered humanities’ can be created to reconstruct new relations not only among human beings but also between human and nature. The rediscovery of the Practical Learning will prove to be useful in producing new perspectives to understand the humanistic tradition of Korea, and also in creating a practical philosophy required by the future.

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