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Skip to 0 minutes and 17 seconds This week, we’re going to look at what Korean philosophy is, and what makes it different from the Western philosophy that you might be accustomed to. We’ll also be looking at Chinese philosophy in comparison to Korean philosophy, because it has been a large influence on the evolution of Korean philosophy.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds Korean Philosophy : Korean Way of Thinking Many of you may not realize that there is such a thing as Korean philosophy and believe that Chinese philosophy is the main or only school of thought in East Asia. However, if you think about that carefully, you may want to ask whether Koreans have been developing their own way of thinking, which is different from Western philosophy or Chinese philosophy. This is because the term “philosophy” as an academic discipline requires a “worldview” that is systematically organized and consistently understood. When the meaning of “philosophy” is downsized, you can even apply this word to a single individual. For instance, when you ask “what is your philosophy?”

Skip to 1 minute and 39 seconds or say “that is his philosophy,” you are not demanding a full set of worldview but using this word in a loose sense of “a way of thinking.” What I will try to convey in this course is not about philosophies of individuals, nor a collective set of knowledge that Koreans hold, but a sustained way of thinking that Koreans have developed from the past to the present. In order to be “Korean Philosophy” In order to be a “philosophy,” it should be understandable by someone who seeks to learn it, regardless of nationality or region. This is what I call “universality”. Even if you are not Korean, when you appreciate Korean philosophy and internalize it, you can adopt the Korean way of thought.

Skip to 2 minutes and 41 seconds This is what makes it a “philosophy.” In order to be “Korean” philosophy, it should be differentiated from other philosophies. This is what I call “particularity”. If you can’t find anything new or different in “Korean philosophy,” compared to, let’s say, German or Chinese philosophy, there isn’t much meaning in calling it “Korean philosophy.” It doesn’t mean that Korean philosophy should be totally different from other philosophies either.

Skip to 3 minutes and 22 seconds Remember: philosophy is not a fixed object but an evolving thought in flux. Philosophy does not appear just because an ethnic or cultural group forms, but thrives only when they develop an examined and systematically understood way of thinking. We will consider whether “Korean philosophy” fits both criteria of universality and particularity. In addition, we will examine how Koreans have developed a different way of seeing the world from other philosophies, and the ways non-Koreans can learn to see the world through Korean philosophy, something that Koreans sometimes struggle with.

What makes up a philosophy?

What do you think is philosophy? Have you heard of Korean philosophy?

This week, we’re going to look at what Korean philosophy is, and what makes it different from the Western philosophy that you might be accustomed to. We’ll also be looking at Chinese philosophy in comparison to Korean philosophy, because it has been a large influence on the evolution of Korean philosophy.

Before we delve into Korean philosophy proper, let’s first think about what makes a philosophy.

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Introduction to Korean Philosophy

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)

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