• Founded
  • Seminar Number

This seminar examines the formation, development, and role of Neo-Confucian thought in China, Japan, and Korea. The relationship between Neo-Confucianism and other aspects of the history of East Asia is considered, and on occasion, intellectual responses to Neo-Confucianism are also examined. The seminar circulates copies of papers to its members prior to meetings.

Professor Ari Borrell

Professor Tao Jiang

Professor On-cho Ng

Nolan Bensen

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020-2021 academic year. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change.

Meeting Schedule

02/05/2021 Online Meeting
3:30 PM
Two Late Joseon Korean Women Confucian Philosophers
Hwa Yeong Wang, Georgetown University

03/05/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Between Coherence and Principle: Li 理 and the Politics of Neo-Confucianism in Late Koryŏ Korea
Kim Sungmoon, City University of Hong Kong


Though li 理 is the philosophical term that defines the distinctive nature of Cheng-Zhu Neo-Confucianism, the mainstream Confucianism in China and Korea since the twelfth-century, the understanding of li as either “principle” or “coherence” is the subject of ongoing debate. Little attention, however, has been paid to li as the lived experience(s) of Neo-Confucians as “scholar-officials,” the key political agents of Neo-Confucian politics, as if it was (and is) a pure philosophical concept. This paper examines li’s complex nature against the backdrop of the political conflict between two of the most prominent Neo-Confucian scholar-officials of late Koryŏ Korea (918-1392), Yi Saek and Chŏng Tojŏn, and shows that it was mainly due to their different understandings of li either (primarily) as coherence or as public principle that led Yi and Chŏng to radically different ethical visions and political judgments. The paper concludes by revisiting the contemporary debate on li.

04/09/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Virtue Ethicist of the Ideal Type: Aristotle or Zhu Xi
Yong Huang, City University of Hong Kong