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The Horak Debate

After the Four-Seven debate, the lineage of philosophical debate continued to Horak debate.
The Horak Debate on the Nature of Human and Animal What we call the Horak Debate today actually encompassed countless topics. Among them, the debate over the nature of “Human and Animal” is particularly noteworthy. The “Ho” group claimed that the nature of morality in humans as well as other animals is “different”; the “Rak” group claimed that they are “the same.” This debate was a kind of moral metaphysics where animals were included in the discussion regarding the origin of morality. I believe that it can find relevancy today, potentially evolving into applied ethics such as the contemporary discussion of “animal rights.” Participants on either side of the Horak Debate had no doubt that animals show moral tendencies, although their moral capacities are limited.
They believed that both humans and animals have a common ground: they are both beings fused with principle (li 理) and psycho-physical force (qi/gi 氣). But the difference lies in that the “Ho” group believed that only humans were originally given a pure form of morality, while the “Rak” group believed that this pure nature was inherent in all beings. This debate helps us to reconsider human and non-human division, and in doing so, can go beyond just how to treat animals, that is to say, it can be the philosophical basis for seeing the relationship between humans and other beings as a network of organisms in the universe.
More interesting to us is that the debate of Human and Animal Nature is not a repetition of the Zhu Xi’s ethics or metaphysics, but rather a novel consequence of the deepening of the issues raised in the precedent debate on emotion, the Four-Seven Debate. The Horak Debate on the “Mind-Heart Before and After Activation” As I mentioned earlier, participants in the Horak debate extended their attention to the state “before the mind/heart is activated,” “Mibal” in Korean. “Mibal” can be seen as state of tranquility, where our mind/heart maintains the pure moral nature before any reactionary emotions come into play. The concept of “Mibal” may sound odd at first. Why was “Mibal” used as a crucial point of debate for a moral life?
It may be related to the Korean path to “Quest for Good.” Korean neo-Confucians assumed that everyone had moral emotions; none of them believed somebody’s nature could innately be bad, even if we witness people commit immoral behaviors in daily life, or personally experience immoral motivation within ourselves. The discrepancy between ideals and reality led them to search meticulously and ceaselessly for the theoretical foundation of good. If it cannot be guaranteed that everyone is always good when one’s mind/heart is “already activated,” then maybe it would be possible to find a common foundation of good in Mibal, the state “before the mind is activated.”
The motivation of the Human and Animal Nature Debate is also based on an ethical and emotional connection to everything that exists on Earth. This keen interest in how to obtain actual virtues from our living experience demanded an extended horizon of moral nature, beyond human-beings.

After the Four-Seven debate, the lineage of philosophical debate continued on to the Horak debate.

The “Ho” group, known as the orthodox line, and the “Rak” group, known as the reformative line, aroused from the Yulgok school. They discovered and theorized on the following key topics.

They analyzed the morality of the mind-heart “before activation” and “after activation”; They also asked whether moral emotions were attainable to everyone or only to the sages. Furthermore, they even asked if humans and animals share the same moral basis. In this video, we will cover the debate over the nature of “Human and Animal” and the debate on the “Mind-Heart before and after activation”.

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Introduction to Korean Philosophy

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