Making peace with the barbarians: Neo-Confucianism and the pro-peace argument in 17th-century Korea

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Abstract

This article investigates the Neo-Confucian discourse on war, premised on the “Chinese versus barbarian” binary, and its impact on the Neo-Confucian scholar-officials of 17th-century Chosŏn Korea. It shows that Korean Neo-Confucians suffered invasions from the Jurchens, who they regarded as “barbarians,” and that the political debate on how to respond to the “barbarians” drove the advocates of the pro-peace argument to reimagine Chosŏn’s statehood. The article consists of three parts. First, it reconstructs the philosophical foundations of the mainstream Neo-Confucian discourse on the war with the “barbarians” with reference to Zhu Xi. Second, it discusses the strong impact of the Neo-Confucian paradigm of war on the orthodox Korean Neo-Confucians of the 17th century. Third, it examines how Ch’oe Myŏng-kil, one of the rare champions of the pro-peace argument at the time, justified making peace with the Jurchens through the judicious use of “the expedient.”

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a research grant from City University of Hong Kong (CityU 9610464).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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