Organizer: Herman Ooms, University of California, Los Angeles
Chair: Benjamin A. Elman, University of California, Los Angeles
Discussants: Klaus Kracht, University of Tuebingen; John B. Duncan, University of California, Los Angeles
Confucianism in Korea
James B. Palais, University of Washington
This paper will call into question the popular conclusion in many publications that Confucianism and the Confucian legacy has been the primary reason for successful economic development in South Korea since 1963. The method will not be to confine the treatment to an analysis of the South Korea situation alone, but to extend the discussion to the history of Confucian influence in the past. That would include treatment of the possible effects of Confucian thought and belief on the capacity of the Chos˘n dynasty to generate sufficient economic and military power to resist foreign domination and Japanese imperialism, on national consciousness and national independence in the conduct of foreign relations, on attitudes and influences regarding economic performance in the Chos˘n dynasty, on social hierarchy versus equal opportunity, and on constraint and regulation versus freedom in both the economic and political spheres.
The last part of the paper will deal directly with crucial factors in South Korea's economic development that have little to do with Confucianism, and which provide a better explanation for rapid industrialization and economic growth.
Chinese Ritual and Native Identity in Tokugawa Confucianism
Kate Wildman Nakai, Sophia University, Tokyo
One of the central issues in the Japanese experience of Confucianism is the interaction between Confucianism as a "Chinese" system of thought and "native" Japanese cultural, social, and political practice. In the course of this interaction aspects of the native context impeded in various ways the penetration of Confucianism as a cohesive system. At the same time, under the influence of Confucian ideas, the perception of what was "native" was subject to ongoing redefinition.
In my paper I will explore some dimensions of this situation as seen in Tokugawa approaches to ritual (li; J. rei). Whether defined narrowly as ritual practice or broadly as social norm, li lay at the core of Chinese Confucianism. For various reasons, however, much of the body of specific Chinese Confucian li took only shallow root in the Tokugawa social setting, as is illustrated by the limited adoption of Chinese Confucian funerary ritual and the debates among Tokugawa Confucians over the necessity to observe Chinese Confucian norms such as agnatic adoption and surname exogamy. On the other hand, under the influence of the Confucian ideal of the "unity of rites and government," a number of Tokugawa Confucians tried to locate an analogous phenomenon within the Japanese context, an attempt that led in turn to a substantial recasting of such central aspects of the native tradition as "shinto."
Human Nature, Singular (China) and Plural (Japan)?
Herman Ooms, University of California, Los Angeles
This paper attempts to historicize in various ways the rejection by many Tokugawa Confucian scholars of Chu Hsiist speculation on the reality of a universal human nature. This stance, often interpreted as signaling either the breakdown of Confucian orthodoxy or a peculiarly Japanese intellectual perversity, did not place these scholars outside the field of Confucian discourse: their most "original" and quotable formulations were borrowed from major Confucian thinkers such as Tung Chung-shu and Lo Ch'in-shun.
Moreover, the impetus for this selective return to a pre-Sung but anti-Mencian view of human nature most likely originated in Japan not with Tokugawa Confucian thinkers but with medical practitioners-in as far as these two fields are distinguishable. The introduction of Sung metaphysics (beyond Zen monasteries) into Japan, and of its critique in the form of Ancient Learning, occurred first among physicians.
Finally, it is clear that social hierarchization was far more pronounced and rigid in Tokugawa Japan than in post-Sung China. Although Neo-Confucian discourse, its notion of universal human nature notwithstanding, allowed for labeling physiologically and culturally non-Chinese as being akin to animals, it was during the Tokugawa period that the burakumin's ancestors were subjected to a social practice that treated them quite literally as animals: beings with a human form but devoid of a human nature. This social reality may have facilitated the predilection by many Japanese scholars for a Confucian version of human nature that allowed for a fundamental rupture in the human continuum.