This Introduction is a comprehensive, interesting and thought-provoking presentation of T’oegye’s Confucian life and thought. Its first part gives a major historical discussion of his career and scholarship. During his fifties and sixties, T’oegye devoted himself to study, thinking, writing, teaching, and spiritual cultivation, which resulted in an impressive number of works. His great fame as a philosopher and scholar was a late accomplishment achieved during the final stage of his life in retirement. The second part of the Introduction discusses the core of T’oegye’s thought according to the Chasŏngnok by providing six interrelated sections: “Philosophy of Principle”; “Human Nature and Emotions: Heaven’s Principle and Human Desires”; “Against Buddhism and Daoism”; “True Learning”; “Self-Cultivation”; and “Reverence and Spiritual Cultivation.” Each section focuses on an essential theme. Indeed, every letter in the Chasŏngnok inspired T’oegye’s disciple(s) and/or colleague by articulating some combination of these core aspects of his learning, ethics, and spirituality.
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