IS YULGOK’S THEORY OF MIND CONSISTENT?
- Author: YOO WEON-KI
- Publish: Acta Koreana Volume 15, Issue1, p147~162, 00 June 2012
In sixteenth century ChosŎn Korea, T’oegye and Kobong initiated a debate over the relationship between the Four Beginnings and the Seven Feelings, their moral characteristics, and, also, their relationship to other psychological factors. This debate soon called for a successive debate between Yulgok and Ugye who asked more or less the same questions by focusing on the moral mind and the human mind rather than the Four and the Seven. Although Yulgok was debating with Ugye, his real opponent was T’oegye who was then deceased. Yulgok closely studied and rejected most of T’oegye’s theses on (a) the mutual exclusiveness between the Four and the Seven, (b) the identification of the Four with the moral mind and, also, of the Seven with the human mind, and (c) the mutual or reciprocal arousal of
liand ki. In this article, I shall contend that Yulgok’s theory of mind is inconsistent in that he mistakenly identified the moral characteristics of the Four with those of the moral mind. I shall begin by examining Yulgok’s reasons for the rejection of the above mentioned theses. In doing this, we shall see the relationship between such psychological concepts as mind, nature, and feelings with respect to ontological concepts such as liand ki. In the end, we shall conclude that Yulgok has to give up the idea that the moral mind shares the same moral characteristics as the Four and the original nature.
T’oegye , Yulgok , the Four-Seven Debate , the Moral Mind-Human Mind Debate , Hobal Theory , Korean Neo-Confucianism
There were two rounds of the so-called Four-Seven Debate in sixteenth-century Chosŏn Korea, which characterized Korean Neo-Confucianism.1 The first round was between Yi Hwang (T’oegye, 1501–1570) and Ki Tae-sŭng (Kobong, 1527–1572) who debated over the question of whether, and how, the Four Beginnings (Sadan, 四端) and the Seven Feelings (Ch’ilchŏng, 七情) can be explained in terms of
li/li理 and ki/qi氣.2 After a long debate which continued for about eight years, T’oegye drew a number of conclusions which included the following: (a) that the Four and the Seven are mutually exclusive, (b) that the Four can be referred to as the moral mind ( tosim, 道心), whereas the Seven can be referred to as the human mind ( insim, 人心), and (c) that in the case of the Four liarouses and kifollows it, whereas in the case of the Seven kiarouses and lirides on it.
In contrast, the second round of the Four-Seven Debate was between Yi I (Yulgok, 1536–1584) and Sŏng Hon (Ugye, 1535–1598).3 In the course of his debate with Ugye, Yulgok came to deny most of the claims presented by T’oegye: he concluded (a1) that the Seven are inclusive of the Four, (b1) that the Four can be referred to as the moral mind, whereas the Seven cannot be referred to as the human mind but rather as the composite of both the moral mind and the human mind, and (c1) that in the case not only of the Four but also of the Seven,
kiarouses and lirides on it. The main reason for Yulgok’s objection to T’oegye is that the latter appears to allow an active role to liwhich is generally characterized as having non-material properties.4 In opposition to T’oegye, he thinks that liby definition cannot be active. Indeed, their opposing views concerning the ontological status and the role of limake all the difference in their theories.
The present article primarily examines whether Yulgok’s theory of mind is fully consistent. In doing this, I shall take three steps. Firstly, I shall examine T’oegye’s positions on the claims (a)–(c),5 secondly, evaluate Yulgok’s reasons for objecting to them, and, thirdly, show explicitly what his own views were on the relationship between psychological factors such as feelings, mind, etc. In this discussion, I shall point out that Yulgok’s theory is consistent to a large extent, but that his claim in (b1) that “the Four can be referred to as the moral mind” is inappropriate and makes the whole theory inconsistent. I shall suggest that the best way to make it fully consistent would be to claim that the Four can be referred to not as the moral mind, but rather as the composite of the moral mind and the human mind, as he did for the Seven.
1Although T’oegye and Yulgok were orthodox Neo-Confucians who faithfully followed Zhu Xi’s teachings, the former often took different routes and arrived at different conclusions from the latter. In relation to this debate, Zhu Xi was concerned neither with the relationship between the Four Beginnings and the Seven Feelings nor with that between the moral-human mind and the Four-Seven (see Chung, 1995, 44 and 87). Moreover, although he did once mention the Four and the Seven in terms of li and ki, he did not attempt to provide any detailed explanation or argument (Zhuzi yu-lei [Classified dialogues of Master Zhu] 53:83, “The Four, these are the bal of li, and the Seven, these are the bal of ki”). His proposition is similar to T’oegye’s first proposition, but their wordings are slightly different (see (P2) in note 8 below). 2The term ‘Four Beginnings’ is from the Book of Mencius 孟子 (2A:6) in which Mencius introduces the mind of commiseration, the mind of shame and dislike, the mind of deference and compliance, and the mind of right and wrong, as the beginning of benevolence, the beginning of righteousness, the beginning of propriety, and the beginning of wisdom, respectively. In brief, according to Mencius, the four virtues (i.e. benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom) are the evidence of the goodness of human nature, and those virtues manifested are called the Four Beginnings or Minds, which Zhu Xi understands as feelings. On the other hand, the Seven Feelings (i.e. pleasure, anger, sorrow, fear, love, hatred, and desire) are introduced in the chapter “Liyun” in the Book of Rites (Liji, 禮記), as basic human feelings. Moreover, in the first chapter of the Doctrine of the Mean (Zhongyong, 中庸), the Seven are reduced to four in number including pleasure, anger, and sorrow with joy added to the list. Whether the number of the feelings is seven or four, it is understood as referring to all the feelings that human beings have. Since this is the case, the Four Beginnings, insofar as they are feelings, must be included in them, too. Thus, there arises a serious problem when T’oegye accepts that they are feelings, but denies that they belong to the Seven Feelings. See Santangelo (1990, 234–270) for an introductory account of the Four-Seven Debate. 3This debate is often called the Human Mind-Moral Mind Debate because the subject-matter with which they were largely concerned was the moral mind and the human mind. However, it is also called, and regarded as a part of, the Four-Seven Debate since the main issues of the former were originally derived from the latter. Indeed, Sŏng Hon’s initial questions to Yulgok were abouy the acceptability of T’oegye’s conclusions and, later on about some issues which derived from them. 4Cf. TKYU, 478–479 5This is because, although Yulgok was debating with Ugye, the latter was merely representing T’oegye’s views to a large extent. For this, Chung (1995, 85) rightly points out, “... even though Yulgok was writing to Ugye, his real debate was with T’oegye; Ugye simply provided him with T’oegye’s perspectives. In general, Yulgok’s letters are longer and better organized than Ugye’s ...”
As noted, the Four-Seven Debate begins with Kobong’s criticism of T’oegye’s emendation of Chŏng Chiun’s (Chuman, 1509–1561) proposition which characterizes the Four Beginnings and the Seven Feelings in relation to
li/li理 and ki/qi氣, respectively. T’oegye’s first proposition to explain the Four and the Seven in terms of liand kiis that “The Four are the bal/fa(發)7 of li, and the Seven are the balof ki.” In this proposition, only lior kiis referred to in each side of the sentences. That is, the Four are the balof lialone, whereas the Seven are the balof kialone. In other words, the Four are explained in terms of lialone, whereas the Seven are explained in terms of kialone. This suggests that, since by definition liand kihave no common properties, the Four and the Seven have nothing to do with each other, either. However, Kobong is dissatisfied with this consequence because he accepts the traditional Confucian idea that liis neither separable from kinor mixed with it. Presumably, this idea means that liand kicannot be separated from each other in reality, although they can be thought of as separate things or elements. As Kobong suggests, it is undeniable that T’oegye’s proposition does have such a connotation.
Kobong’s criticism continued for about eight years (1559–1566) and in response to it T’oegye emended his own proposition at least four times.8 T’oegye’s final proposition reads thus: “The Four are the
balof liand kifollows it, and the Seven are the balof kiand lirides on it.” Despite the fact that Kobong wrote to T’oegye that he was still dissatisfied with the final proposition, the latter did not write back to the former, and their debate seemed to end abruptly. However, the debate over the Four and the Seven did not really end. In 1572, six years after the end of their Debate, Ugye wrote a letter to Yulgok, asking for his opinion about the validity of T’oegye’s final proposition. In answer to this enquiry, Yulgok pointed out that T’oegye adopted a dualist position9 by separating lifrom kior vice versa. He then went on to conclude that T’oegye’s theory was defective. Indeed, T’oegye’s position is well known as the hobal( liki-hobal/liqi-hufa理氣互發) theory in which he appears to ascribe an active characteristic to both liand ki. Again, the hobaltheory refers to a theory that claims a mutual or reciprocal “ bal” of both liand ki.
Before examining the theory in detail, it is important to note that the word “
bal” can be translated, at least, in three ways. In the Four-Seven Debate, the word takes such a form as “P bal(s)from/in/by Q,”“The balof P is Q,” or “P is the balof Q,” and so it can be translated as a noun or a verb. There is a controversy about the word whether we are to translate it as “manifest/manifestation 發顯,” “issue/issuance or originate/origin 發源,” or “arouse/arousal 發動.”10 Let us take the example of “The balof P is Q.” According to the first translation, Q might be understood as the eventual emergence of the characteristic(s) or attribute(s) that P originally had. In this case, P in “the manifestation of P is Q” does not necessarily play any active role, but its characteristic(s) may be actualized in time. Also, it is also inactive in the second translation, since to say that “the origin of P is Q” is to understand Q as a constituent of P. In this case, P need not be active. In the first two translations, the balof P does not contain any active sense, whereas in the third translation it has some active connotation. That is, according to the third translation, P in “the arousal of P is Q” signifies an agent which requires some impetus for action. Since one and the same word “ bal” can be translated differently in different contexts, one should be careful to ascertain the proper meaning of the word.
Yulgok criticizes T’oegye’s propositions on the Four and the Seven for the reason that they appear to ascribe an active connotation to
li. He understands “ bal” as the third translation meaning “arouse/arousal.” If we replace them, we have the proposition that “The Four are the arousal of liand kifollows it, and the Seven are the arousal of kiand lirides on it.” This proposition contains four active expressions, i.e. “ li’s arousing,”“ ki’s following,”“ ki’s arousing,” and “ li’s riding.” As for this, Yulgok appears to claim that we can talk of “ ki’s arousing,”“ li’s riding,” and “ ki’s following, but not of “ li’s arousing.”11 The reason for this claim is not clear at all. In any case, he thereby accepts the right side of the proposition that “the Seven are the arousal of kiand lirides on it,” while refusing the left side that “the Four are the arousal of liand kifollows it.” This is indeed Yulgok’s position throughout the debate with Ugye. Yulgok says that the reason for refusing the latter phrase is that it ascribes some active sense to liitself. He thinks that this ascription of movability to lieventually implies that liand kican be prior or posterior to each other in time.12 This is unacceptable to Yulgok because, according to the Chung-Chu tradition of Neo-Confucianism by which he abides, liis neither subject to change nor can it be involved in time.13
On the other hand, Yulgok’s interpretation of T’oegye’s
balas arousal does not quite show why T’oegye endeavors to distinguish the Four from the Seven by explaining them in terms of liand ki, respectively. In fact, the consequence that results from T’oegye’s view is better understood, if we translate the balas “origin” or “source.”14 According to this translation, the Four and the Seven are understood as having different origins. If this is the case, then T’oegye can have a solid ground for claiming that, although both the Four and the Seven are surely feelings, they are mutually exclusive.
If so, what is it that makes them different from each other? According to the Neo-Confucian idea,
lihas the moral characteristic of pure goodness, whereas kican be both good and evil. The Four are good since they originate from li. In contrast, the Seven are both good and evil since they originate from ki.15 In consequence, all of the Four are good, whereas some of the Seven are good and others bad. Of course, if T’oegye maintained that the Four were good because of liand the Seven bad because of ki, then this problem would not arise. However, he undoubtedly allows that some of the Seven are good. Thus, there arises a problem of how to distinguish the goodness of allthe Four Beginnings from the goodness of someof the Seven Feelings.
Yulgok’s criticism is that, if that is the case, then there are two sources and, also, two types of the goodness of human nature. He thinks that the Four and the Seven are not two different sorts of feelings.16 For Yulgok, the Seven refer to all the human feelings irrespective of whether they are good or evil. The Four refer only to good feelings among them.17 Of course, this idea is closely related to his understanding of the relationship between
liand ki. He claims that liand kican never be separated from each other and that they are always combined with each other. Elsewhere, Yulgok expresses this mysterious characteristic of liand kias “the eccentric composite of liand ki理氣之妙.” Although he does not admit T’oegye’s ascription of movability to lior of its separability from ki, he never denies its existence as something distinguishable from ki.
6It has been generally consented that T’oegye and Kobong were deeply concerned with the problem of the movability of li, but I think that this is not true. This problem was rather a subject of the debate between Yulgok and Ugye. Since Kobong did not comment much about T’oegye’s views on this matter, we have to examine Yulgok’s remarks to shed light on this issue. 7Ed. note: The McCune-Reischauer romanization for the term bal (發) is pal, but as the author of this article considers bal to be the generally accepted romanization of this term in Western Neo-Confucian studies and because it appears later in the article as bal in such compounds as hobal, mibal and ibal, he has chosen to use the romanization bal throughout this article. 8As for Chuman’s original proposition, (P1), T’oegye made at least four emendations, (P2)–(P5), in accordance with Kobong’s consistent criticisms. At the end of their debate, Kobong presented his own proposition, (P6). The propositions presented in the debate are as follows: Chuman’s Original Proposition (1537), (P1) “The Four Beginnings are the bal from li, and the Seven feelings the bal from ki”; T’oegye’s First Emendation (1553), (P2) “The Four Beginnings are the bal of li, and the Seven feelings are the bal of ki”; T’oegye’s Second Emendation (1559), (P3) “The bal of the Four Beginnings is li only and [they are] nothing but good, and the bal of the Seven feelings is [not only li but] combined with ki and [they are] good or evil”; T’oegye’s Third Emendation (1559), (P4) “In the bal of the Four Beginnings, li predominates, and in the bal of the Seven Feelings, ki predominates”; T’oegye’s Fourth Emendation (1560), (P5) “The Four are the bal of li and ki follows it, and the Seven are the bal of ki and li rides on it”; Kobong’s Final Proposition (1561), (P6) “In the bal of feelings, at times li moves and ki is together with it, or at times ki is stimulated and li rides on it.” For the detailed references and, also, the reasons for rejecting each proposition, see Yoo (2011), Ch. 2, Sec. 1 and Yoo (forthcoming), Ch. IV. 9Mingran (2006), 155–183; Santangelo (1990), 237. 10Apart from these translations, Jin (1987, 351 f.) prefers to translate it as “emanate/emanation.” There is also another question whether the same translation is applicable to all the places of bal in (P1)–(P6). For this problem with the translation of the word, see Yoo (2011), 37–39. 11In any case, it is odd that he accepts “li’s riding” for some reason and refuses “li’s arousing” as being active because both phrases may be equally read to have an active connotation. The only way to sort out this seeming inconsistency is to interpret “li’s riding” as somehow having an inactive connotation: that is, “riding” here does not mean a man on the ground climbing onto a horse, but a man who is already sitting on a horse. In the latter case, the man and the horse do not necessarily involve any priority in time, but coexist side by side. This is a possible interpretation, but, since Yulgok does not give us any hint over this matter, it is still controversial. 12TKYU, 421–422, “But, since the theory that “li arouses and ki follows it” implies the priority and posteriority [in time], how come this will not damage [the theory of] li? ... to say that “[something] is aroused from li” is the same as to say that “nature is aroused and becomes a feeling,” but if we say that “li arouses and ki follows it” means that ki does not interrupt at the beginning of the arousal, but follows li after it arouses, how can it be true?” (The words in brackets are mine.) 13See TKYU, 413, 420, 478–479 etc. Once again, this is Yulgok’s understanding of T’oegye’s use of li, but I am inclined to think that his understanding is mistaken. As seen, T’oegye claims that the Four and the Seven Feelings can be divided into two different categories and explained in terms of li and ki, whereas Kobong claims that they must not be. It seems to me that the reason for their making such contrary claims, despite the fact that they share many of Zhu Xi’s views, is that T’oegye’s division of the Four and the Seven in terms of li and ki is conceptual, whereas Kobong as well as Yulgok construe him to have an actual division in mind. Again, T’oegye’s separation of the Four from the Seven or li from ki is conceptual in the sense that it is a separation in thought, but not in reality. For a detailed discussion of this point, see Yoo (2011), 46–52. 14It is, however, to be noted that Yulgok thinks of T’oegye’s bal as ‘arousal’ or ‘movement’ rather than as ‘origin.’ 15Chung (1995, 70) rightly states that T’oegye “gave a more positive view of the Seven Emotions, suggesting that they are “originally good” rather than “both good and evil.” 16See TKYU, 526–532. 17TKYU, 420, 424–425.
By referring to one of his letters to T’oegye, entitled
Sadan ch’ilchŏng sŏl(The Four-Seven thesis), in which Kobong states that “Although the human mind and the moral mind can be spoken of in this way, the Four and the Seven cannot be spoken of in this way,”18 Ugye says to Yulgok that “It seems to me that if the human mind and the moral mind can be spoken of in this way, then the Four and the Seven can be spoken of in this way, too.”19 The first thing to do in order to understand his remarks is to understand the phrase “in this way.” According to Kobong, he means to say that, although the relation between the moral mind and the human mind can be contrasted as the contrast between “pure li” and “the composite of liand ki,” the relation between the Four and the Seven cannot be understood in this way.20 Thus, “in this way” refers to the contrast between “pure li” and “the composite of liand ki.” The main point of the disagreement between Ugye and Kobong is that the former identifies the Seven with the human mind, whereas the latter does not.21 The above question raised by Ugye is the starting point of the famous Moral Mind-Human Mind Debate. As we shall see below, Yulgok presents an opinion in Kobong’s favour.
According to Neo-Confucianism, there are three important psychological factors whose relationship is described in a proposition, “The mind commands nature and feelings.” Yulgok in his
Insim tosim tosŏl(Diagrammatic treatise on the human mind and the moral mind) adds deliberation ŭi意 to the list and says that “The mind commands nature, feelings, and deliberation.”22 The word “command” in the above propositions is a translation of t’ong/tong統. It is also translated as “include” or, even, “agent.”23 In general, the proposition means that the mind is the agent that commands or includes all the other psychological factors. In Zhu Xi’s system, the state in which the mind is not-yet-aroused ( mibal未發) refers to nature, whereas the state in which it has already-been-aroused ( ibal已發) refers to feelings. Since the mind includes nature as well as feelings, it covers the unaroused state as well as the aroused state. What, then, is the function of deliberation? It refers also to the aroused state like feelings, but it does not belong to them. Yulgok defines deliberation as the capacity for comparing and calculating the feelings. According to him, the procedure of the mind, nature, feelings, and deliberation is one way.24 He thus says that “If the mind is not-yet-aroused, it is called nature; if it has already-been-aroused, it becomes feelings; and if the mind compares and calculates these feelings, it becomes deliberation.”25
In this way, Yulgok distinguishes various types of psychological factors according to their functions. Furthermore, he divides the mind, nature, and feelings into two types each. As he divides the mind into the moral mind and the human mind, and feelings into the Four and the Seven, he also divides nature into the original nature and the physical nature. It seems that the moral mind, the Four, and the original nature are said to be closely related to
liin that, though their functions are different, they are understood as sharing the same moral feature of li, i.e. goodness. Likewise, the human mind, the Seven, and the physical nature are closely related to kiin that they can easily become evil, though they are originally good. According to Yulgok, there is one more characteristic that nature shares with feelings but not with the mind: that is, as the Seven include the Four, the physical nature also includes the original nature. However, they are different from the mind in that the human mind does not include the moral mind. That is, although the human mind is said to have the same characteristics as physical nature and the Seven, it does not include its counterpart, i.e. the moral mind. From this perspective, Yulgok concludes that the relationship between the moral mind and the human mind is different from that between the Four and the Seven and, also, from that between the original nature and the physical nature.
Let us now consider Yulgok’s explanation of the Four and the Seven in terms of
liand ki. T’oegye states that the Seven originate from the composite of liand ki, whereas the Four originate from lialone. Based on this ontological ground, he can claim that the Four are always good because they have their origin in li, whereas the Seven are either good or evil because they have their origin in the composite of liand ki. However, for Yulgok, the Four are included in the Seven and refer to the good feelings in them, which originate from the composite of liand ki. Thus, neither the Seven nor the Four originate from lialone. This is different from T’oegye’s view.
As seen above, T’oegye describes the Seven as originating from
kialone and, consequently, faces the difficulty of reconciling the goodness of the Four and that of the Seven. However, this is not a problem for Yulgok. He understands that, since the Seven originate from the composite of both liand ki, they include not only the goodness but also the evilness of the feelings. Moreover, since the four are the names that refer to the good feelings of the ‘Seven feelings,’ we can conclude that the rest of the Seven that remain are evil. The same sort of account is given in the case of nature, which is also divided into the original nature and the physical nature. Yulgok thinks that the original nature has the characteristics of liin the physical nature. This is to say that the original nature refers to the aspect of lionly in the physical nature which refers to the composite of the composite of liand ki.26 Just as the Four are said to be parts of the Seven, the original nature refers to some part of the physical nature.27
Although this line of reasoning sounds valid, it does not apply to the case of the mind. That is, although the moral mind is said to have the moral characteristic of goodness, it is not the case that it refers to the aspect of
lionly. Yulgok often emphasizes the necessity of the presence of both liand kiin the arousal of the mind. In any case, it is clear that the mind cannot be aroused in the absence of either lior ki. According to Yulgok, the moral mind is described as referring “principally to li” and the human mind as referring “principally to ki.” Such expressions as “principally to li” and “principally to ki” suggest that, although both types of the mind are aroused in the composite of liand ki, the moral mind has the characteristic of li, whereas the human mind has the characteristic of ki. This is surely different from the case of the Seven that include the Four, or from the case of the physical nature that includes the original nature. Since the moral mind and the human mind do not have any common characteristics or properties, we have to say that they are mutually exclusive of each other. However, as noted repeatedly, Yulgok never says that the two types of the mind can be aroused in lior kialone. On the contrary, he keeps emphasizing that they are always aroused in the composite of them.
18TKYU, 146–147, 412. 19TKYU, 412. T’oegye did not say anything about this matter in his debate with Kobong, and so this is Ugye’s original claim. 20TKYU, 146–147. 21In fact, in his first letter to Yulgok, Ugye agrees with Kobong by saying that “it is all right to say that the moral mind ‘is’ the Four, but it is not right to say that the human mind ‘is’ the Seven” (TKYU, 402). However, it must be a simple mistake. “Is” in the above quotation should be understood as an identification of some sort, that is, most presumably, an identification of their moral characteristics. 22This term “ŭi 意” generally means “will” and it is translated accordingly, as Kalton translates it in his book (1994, 115). However, as we shall shortly see, its function is rather like “deliberation” as I translate it. 23Yi (2003), 77 note 9. 24Yulgok chŏnsŏ (Complete works of Yi I) 14:33b, “Non simsŏngjŏng.” In saying this, he might mean to tell us that all the psychological factors are not completely different entities, but different features of the same entity which occur in turn at different times. 25TKYU, 407–408. 26TKYU, 487–488. 27TKYU, 406.
In his first letter to Yulgok, Ugye writes that, since the moral mind is derived from the correctness of Heaven and destiny, and the human mind from the personal orientation of the physical form, it is all right to explain the Four and the Seven in terms of
liand ki, respectively. One might legitimately take him to be suggesting that “the correctness of Heaven and destiny” and “the personal orientation of the physical form” are two different sources of the mind. Moreover, he seems to identify the former with liand the latter with ki. Indeed, he explains the two types of the mind in terms of liand kiin a number of passages.28 However, Yulgok consistently insists that they are not derived from two different sources, but from one and the same source, i.e. from the composite of liand ki. This insistence is based on his belief that liand kiare inseparable from each other.29 In a similar vein, he talks of kias that which arouses and lias that whereby it is aroused.30 Granting that whatever moves involves its principle whereby it is moved, his remarks might be taken to mean that there cannot be liwithout kior kiwithout li.
This close connection or the inseparability between
liand kienables Yulgok to claim the mutual relationship of the moral mind and the human mind. He states as follows:
Yulgok thinks that the moral mind can become the human mind and, also, the human mind can become the moral mind. This suggests that the two types of the mind are not two different entities, but two different names for one and the same entity. If he conceived, as Ugye did, that the moral mind and the human mind were derived from two different sources, he would not be able to claim their mutual relationship. For to say that the moral mind is derived from
liand that the human mind is derived from kiis to say that, by definition, they do not share any common properties. Again, since in general lirefers to something non-physical and kito something physical, there is no bridge to connect them, as is the case in the Cartesian understanding of soul and body. Indeed, it is hard, if not impossible, in such a case to think of the way in which the two types of the mind can become each other. On the contrary, Yulgok’s theory of their mutual relationship on the basis of the inseparability of liand kiappears sound and consistent.
However, Yulgok’s identification of the two types of the mind with those of feelings and, also, with those of nature raises a difficult problem for his theory of mind. When he identifies the Four with the moral mind and the Seven with the composite of the moral mind and the human mind,32 it is not immediately clear what this identification is about. We can be sure that it is not meant to claim the literal identification of the mind with feelings because he explicitly distinguishes their functions as psychological factors. Rather, considering his frequent mention of such factors in terms of
liand/or ki, he might be intending to compare their origins and also their moral characters. We have seen that Yulgok admits that the Seven include the Four and that the original nature includes the physical nature, but denies that the moral mind includes the human mind. He claims this because he thinks that the two types of feelings and those of nature have their origins respectively in pure lior the composite of liand ki. In particular, it is to be noted that, when the Four and the original nature are said to be derived from pure li, the existence of kiis not presupposed at all. On the contrary, when the two types of the mind are said to refer “principally to li” or “principally to ki,” they presuppose the existence of the composite of both liand kiin their arousal. If so, can we accept his identification of the Four and the original nature with the moral mind?
I once thought that his identification of the Seven with the composite of the moral mind and the human mind was inappropriate.33 At the time, as opposed to Yulgok’s claim, I thought that, since the Seven and the human mind had the moral characteristics of goodness as well as evilness, the former should be identified with the latter, not with the composite of the latter and the moral mind. From this, I also thought that, since Yulgok denied that the human mind included the moral mind, but admitted that the moral mind was good, he would be understood as claiming that the human mind was evil. If so, the two minds which were defined as having contrary properties would not have the mutual relationship of becoming each other as beginning and end. Therefore, I reached the conclusion that Yulgok’s theory of mind was inconsistent.
However, I was wrong at the time in thinking that the human mind is only evil. If both
liand kiare presupposed in the arousal of the moral mind as well as the human mind, both of them must have the moral characteristics of goodness as well as evilness. In this case, there is no problem at all with Yulgok’s claim that the two types of the mind can become each other as beginning and end.34 Again, since the two types of the mind are merely names for the actual manifestations of the mind, they neither refer to their different origins nor to different moral characteristics. In consequence, Yulgok’s theory of mind is not inconsistent in this matter.
However, I still think that his theory is inconsistent, but for a different reason. In fact, I am now inclined to think that his identification of the moral mind with the Four cannot be accepted. For, as opposed to the Seven, which include the Four, the human mind does not include the moral mind. The thing is that, if the moral mind is always aroused in the composite of
liand kiand so their presence must be presupposed, we cannot say that it has the characteristic of lior goodness only. In fact, for Yulgok the moral value of the mind is not determined until it is actually aroused. This implies that its moral value is not rooted in its origins such as lior ki, but it is evaluated and named after it is actually aroused in practice and put under observation. Indeed, Yulgok’s theory that the moral mind and the human mind can become each other supports this line of interpretation. The same sort of account can be given of the human mind. That is, the moral value of the human mind is not fixed in advance because of its origin, but determined after it is actually aroused in practice. In other words, they do not have any fixed moral value of goodness or evilness. Once again, the moral values of the moral mind and the human mind are not fixed, but flexible. In other words, we cannot say that they are dependent on their origins because they do not have different origins but one and the same origin. That is, both of them originate from the composite of liand ki. Therefore, we can now conclude that the moral mind cannot be identified with or, rather, referred to, as the Four.
Again, it is inappropriate for Yulgok to identify the Four with the moral mind. And it seems to me that the only way for him to sort out the implicit problem with this identification is to give up the idea that the moral mind and the Four have the same sort of moral characteristic of goodness. Otherwise, he unwillingly has to accept the view that the moral mind refers to the good part of the human mind as in the cases of the Four-Seven feelings or the original-physical nature. In fact, if one were to be consistent with the two views that the moral mind was derived from
liand that it had the moral characteristic of goodness, one would have to hold them together. Since Yulgok has never claimed the former view, all he has to do is to give up the latter view. In sum the problem that he now confronts has been raised because he rejects the former and admits the latter, but the two views must be held together, not separately.
If despite all the anticipated problems, one desperately wants to maintain the identification of the moral mind with the Four, one has to accept Ugye’s view that the relationship between the moral mind and the human mind is the same as that between the Four and the Seven, or between the original nature and the physical nature. For Ugye, the moral mind, the Four, and the original nature share the same moral characteristics, as the human mind, the Seven, and the physical nature do. Moreover, he admits that the latter psychological factors include the former ones. However, as stated above, for Yulgok since the moral mind is derived from the composite of both
liand kiand since it is not included in the human mind,35 it cannot be said to share the same moral characteristics with the Four as well as the original nature.
28TKYU, 481–484. Cf. Chung (2011), 97–98. 29Cf. Chung (1995), 90–91. 30TKYU, 407. 31TKYU, 405; 407–408. 32TKYU, 404. 33Yoo (2011), 76–77. 34TKYU, 405–406 and 418–419. 35Moreover, the moral mind is not a name for a psychological activity that originally has a characteristic of goodness, but a name for some phenomenon that is found to have such a characteristic.
In this article, I have tried to evaluate the consistency of Yulgok’s theory of mind by examining his identification of the moral characteristics of the moral mind with those of the Four. As mentioned, this identification is not to claim that the moral mind refers to the same psychological factor as the Four, but that they share the same moral characteristic of goodness which has its origin in
li. We have concluded that his identification is inappropriate and that he should give it up in order to maintain his theory of mind to be consistent as a whole.
Indeed, there seems to be a merit that can be obtained from giving up the identification. We have briefly stated earlier that the mind is said to cover the unaroused state of nature as well as the aroused state of feelings or deliberation. Since an unaroused state, i.e. a state before confronting external objects, is good, whereas an aroused state, i.e. a state after confronting external objects, is either good or evil, the mind must have the moral characteristics of goodness as well as evilness. It is not clear whether the mind here refers to the moral mind or the human mind. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that it has to have both of the moral characteristics. Thus, Yulgok’s characterization of the moral mind as pure goodness without any evilness conflicts with his thesis that “the mind commands nature, feelings, and deliberation.” In consequence, the suggestion to give up the identification of the moral mind with the Four also helps his theory of the mind to be consistent. Although there seems to be this much merit, we still have to wait for another occasion to see whether there are any other consequences that will result from giving up the identification. Indeed, there remain such questions, most importantly, as to whether and how far it will improve or damage his theory as a whole.