Confucianism and Theism: A look at the life and thought of Tasan Chŏng Yagyong
Tasan Chŏng Yagyong (Dasan, Jeong Yagyeong, 1762-1836) is not only one of Korea’s most famous philosophers, he was also one of the most prolific writers Korea has ever seen. He wrote so much on so many different topics that scholars constantly argue about how best to describe him and his ideas. One of the more heated debates is over whether he was a Catholic or a Confucian. I will attempt to resolve that dispute by analyzing his personal life, his relationships with friends and family members, and his commentaries on Confucian Classics. I will argue that to simply describe him as a Confucian or a Catholic is too simplistic. He was a little bit of both. He was a sincere Confucian who sincerely believed in God.
Don Baker is professor of Korean civilization in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He first became involved with Korea as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gwangju from 1971 to 1974. He received his Ph.D. in Korean history from the University of Washington in 1983 and has been teaching at UBC since 1987. He has published widely on Korean history, religion, philosophy, and traditional science, including many articles on various aspects of Tasan’s life and thought. His most recent book is Korean Spirituality, from the University of Hawaii Press.