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What Master Hwadam Loved to Learn: The Hwadam jip and Seo Gyeongdeok' s Place in the Intellectual History of Joseon

Abstract : Based on the analysis of the Hwadam jip 花潭集 _and its peritexts (prefaces, postfaces, chronological biography, etc.) in particular, this study focuses on the contrasting assessments of Seo Gyeongdeok 徐敬德 _(1489-1546) during the Joseon period. It analyzes why and how the followers of Seo Gyeongdeok laid out multiple strategies in the compilation of his munjip to counteract the criticisms expressed by high-profile Neo-Confucian scholar-officials, such as Yi Hwang and Yi I under Seonjo’s reign. These criticisms toward Seo Gyeongdeok’s eremitism, his approach to the Changes, and his specific way of practising Confucian learning, which had been regarded as potentially unorthodox, were all addressed in different ways by the successive compilers of the munjip between the 16th and 18th centuries. This article argues that the Hwadam jip, especially the last edition in 1787, is what may have played a major role in turning Seo Gyeongdeok into Master Hwadam, one of the most respected Confucian scholars nowadays. By mixing carefully chosen biographical elements with philosophical arguments, this most complete edition printed at the Hwagok Academy by the scholars of Gaeseong can be seen as an attempt to provide a holistic understanding of “Hwadam Learning” and trace their own lineage within the orthodox “Transmission of the Way” in the process. Seo Gyeongdeok is presented as a direct disciple of Confucius, in the manner of Yan Hui and, hence, worthy of the utmost respect and recognition. Ironically, although Seo Gyeongdeok has been duly acknowledged as a forerunner of the Neo-Confucian tradition of Joseon in modern histories of Korean Confucianism, the definition of “Hwadam Learning” as a “Learning of Mind-and-Heart” in line with the “Learning of Nature and Principle” as proposed in the final edition of the Hwadam jip is not the one that prevails today.
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Isabelle Sancho. What Master Hwadam Loved to Learn: The Hwadam jip and Seo Gyeongdeok' s Place in the Intellectual History of Joseon. THE REVIEW OF KOREAN STUDIES, 2020, 23, pp.55 - 88. ⟨10.25024/review.2020.23.1.55⟩. ⟨hal-02903511⟩



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