Sang-ho Ro, Assistant Professor, Department of Korean Studies, Ewha Womans University
623 Williams Hall
Neo-Confucianism is one of South Korea’s most important and long-lasting philosophical legacies from the past. In the Yi dynasty, Korean ways of thinking underwent significant changes when the ruling elites actively adopted the Chinese school of philosophy as theirs. Sang-ho Ro examines the Korean intellectual journey to compromise the China-based metaphysics with the Korean reality in the eighteenth century. He suggests that Koreans met a moment of reformation when they realized the Double Truth that the physical and metaphysical worlds might have two different sets of laws. By analyzing Korean pre-modern scientific discourses on matters (mul), Sang-ho Ro characterizes the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a moment of Korean exit from the China-centered worldview. The Korean scholarly interest in mathematics, zoology, anatomy, and botany will illustrate the historical dialogue between Neo-Confucianism and science in pre-modern Korea.