Zhu Xi and Jeong Yakyong's Views on Nonhuman Animals.

25 Mar 2022 02.30 PM - 04.00 PM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public

One significant feature of Jeong Yakyong’s丁若鏞 (1762-1836) thought is his deconstruction of Zhu Xi’s朱熹 (1130-1200) moral universe based on li 理 and qi 氣. For Zhu Xi, the world in its entirety was a moral place, but Jeong Yakyong distinguished non-moral domains from the moral domain. One question that follows in pursuing a comparison of their philosophies on this topic is what each thinker meant by “moral” and, in particular, whether they meant the same thing. In this talk, I delve deeper into this topic by comparing their respective perspectives on whether nonhuman animals are moral. Interestingly, they held exactly opposite views: Zhu Xi believed that certain actions on the part of nonhuman animals manifest moral values, whereas Jeong Yakyong claimed that none of the actions of nonhuman animals has moral value. In comparing their views, I introduce Mark Rowlands’s distinction between “moral subjects” and “moral agents.”

Youngsun Back is an Assistant Professor in the College of Confucian Studies and Eastern Philosophy at Sungkyunkwan University, Korea. Back specialized in East Asian philosophy. Her recent publications include "Who Should Ascend the Throne? The Two Views of Korean Confucians, Yi Saek and Jeong Do-jeon" (2021), "Revealing Contingency Through Shun's Ascension to the Throne" (2020), and "Rethinking Mozi's Jian'ai" (2019).