Confucian Statecraft and Korean Institutions. Yu Hyongwon and the Late Choson Dynasty - James B. Palais

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parties were obscene distortions of the rules of the Book of Rites for honoring
fathers at banquets. "How could one congratulate oneself on the fact that one
has been appointed to office, by setting up a party with musicians, calling it a
congratulatory party, and only then claim that what you were doing was serv-
ing your father?,,43 Just as bad was the current custom of high officials forcing
new appointees to hold banquets before allowing them to take their posts, or
forcing newly admitted scholars in the provincial schools (hyanggyo) to pro-
vide food and wine or make cloth payments before being admitted to school.
"All these evil practices make the blood run cold, and all ought to be abolished
in the expectation that mores will change. "44
Strictness and discipline was also an important part of the learning process.
Proper respect for one's teacher required not only the performance of proper
etiquette in formal meetings, but also warm trust and respectful acceptance of
the teacher's instruction. "If in some matter there should be some doubt, the stu-
dents should discuss it, ask questions about it, and thus distinguish between what
is right and wrong, but a student cannot simply criticize his teacher on the basis
of his own opinions."45


Strict Orthodoxy in the Curriculum

Yu was obviously committed to creating a school system that would be run under
standards of strict discipline for both moral rectitude in daily behavior and high
standards of academic performance. Nevertheless, the arduous regimen inside
his schools did not necessarily signify a restrictive attitude toward the pursuit
of knowledge itself, especially since he had cited the practical and utilitarian
arguments of several Chinese reformers.
All doubt about the liberality of his vision and his willingness to accept the
unusual and the unorthodox is removed, however, by considering his discussion
of the school curriculum and the limits of knowledge. He made it quite clear
that learning was to be strictly confined to acceptable texts in the orthodox canon.
The student was to begin his studies with The Small Learning (Hsiao-hsiieh)
and then proceed in order to The Great Learning (Ta-hsiieh), Analects, Men-
cius, Doctrine of the Mean (the above four were the Four Books with the stan-
dard commentary by Chu Hsi), the Record of Things Near at Hand (Chin-ssu
Lu, edited by Chu Hsi and Lii Tsu-ch'ien), and the Six Classics. In between he
was allowed to study the Shih-chi (Records of the Grand Historian, by Ssu-ma
Ch'ien), and various writings of Neo-Confucian philosophers on nature and prin-
ciple (siJngni. hsing-li in Chinese). "Do not read any books that have not been
written by the sages, and do not look at any writings that are of no benefit."4^6
Students had to submit for approval a list of texts that they would study for
periodic recitations or written examinations, and only exceptional students or
those older than thirty-five would be allowed to dispense with this requirement.^47

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