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Religions 2018, 9(11), 325; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110325

Confucian Democracy and a Pluralistic Li-Ki Metaphysics

The Theological School, Drew University, 36 Madison Ave., Madison, NJ 07940, USA
Received: 6 October 2018 / Revised: 19 October 2018 / Accepted: 22 October 2018 / Published: 23 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role and Meaning of Religion for Korean Society)
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Abstract

This essay explores the possible constructive role of a Confucian metaphysics in the pluralistic Confucian-democratic context of South Korea. In his recent landmark study, Sungmoon Kim has argued that South Korean democracy is sustained by a public culture of civility that is grounded in Confucian habits and mores and yet is pluralistic in ethos. I appreciatively interrogate Kim’s thesis in order to advance a claim that a comprehensive Confucian doctrine such as Confucian metaphysics can contribute significantly to the flourishing of Confucian democratic public culture, provided that it affirm a pluralistic ontology. I contend that the tradition of Korean Neo-Confucian li-ki metaphysics, particularly one found in the works of Nongmun Im Seong-ju, offers rich resources for a pluralistic ontology despite its history of ethical monism. By putting Nongmun’s thought in conversation with some of the contemporary critiques of the Schmittian (mis-)appropriation of the notion of popular sovereignty, I outline a pluralized version of the Rousseauian general will—a kind of critically affectionate solidarity of diverse groups of people—that is Confucian in character. My claim is that such a critically affectionate solidarity finds its grounds in and draws its nourishment from a pluralistic Confucian ontology. View Full-Text
Keywords: Korean Neo-Confucianism; li-ki metaphysics; Confucian democracy; popular sovereignty; pluralism; public culture Korean Neo-Confucianism; li-ki metaphysics; Confucian democracy; popular sovereignty; pluralism; public culture
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Lee, H.-D. Confucian Democracy and a Pluralistic Li-Ki Metaphysics. Religions 2018, 9, 325.

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