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Silhak
Hangul 실학
Hanja 實學
Revised Romanization silhak
McCune–Reischauer sirhak

Silhak was a Confucian social reform movement in late Joseon Dynasty Korea. Sil means "actual" or "practical," and hak means "studies" or "learning." It developed in response to the increasingly metaphysical nature of Neo-Confucianism (성리학) that seemed disconnected from the rapid agricultural, industrial, and political changes occurring in Korea between the late 17th and early 19th centuries.[1] Silhak was designed to counter the "uncritical" following of Confucian teachings and the strict adherence to "formalism" and "ritual" by neo-Confucians.[2] Most of the Silhak scholars were from factions excluded from power and other disaffected scholars calling for reform.[3] They advocated an empirical Confucianism deeply concerned with human society at the practical level.[4]

In a broad sense, the beginning of Silhak can be traced to the aftermath of the Seven Year War, the devastating 16th century invasion by Japan. After the Manchu invasions in the 17th century, Korean art and science continued under the Silhak scholars.[5] Additionally, the discontent of the people was expressed in writings and dramas of the period made by these scholars.[5] Generally, the term "Silhak" refers to the reform-minded scholarship within the Confucian framework, rather than the more nationalistic peasant movements, or the later non- or anti-Confucian modernization schools. Many of the scholars in the Silhak school can also be found in the Seohak ("Western Learning") movement.[6]

Its proponents generally argued for reforming the rigid Confucian social structure, land reforms to relieve the plight of peasant farmers, redefining the traditionally submissive relationship with China, promoting Korea's independent national identity and culture, encouraging the study of science, and advocating technology exchange with foreign countries.[5] Silhak scholars wanted to use realistic and experimental approaches to social problems with the consideration of the welfare of the people.[7] Silhak scholars encouraged human equality and moved toward a more Korean-centric view of Korean history.[5] The Silhak school is credited with helping to create a modern Korea.

Contents

Prominent scholars

  • Kim Yuk, 1580–1658, postwar reformer who advocated coinage, introduced into Korea a reformed calendar, and supported technological improvements[8]
  • Yi Su-gwang, 1563–1627, scholar-official who introduced Western science, religion, and social studies to Korea.[8]
  • Yu Hyeong-won, 1622-1673, representing what is sometimes considered the first generation of Silhak scholars and advocated a "public land system" where the state would hold title and allocate the land for the farmer to use.[9]
  • Yi Ik, 1681–1764, of the second generation of Silhak scholars, founder of the Gyeongsechiyongpa (경세치용파 經世致用派 School of Administration and Practical Usage[4]), advocating reforms of land ownership, economic infrastructure, and government administration.[2] This is known as the "equal field system" and was supposed to guarantee enough land for each farmer to provide for his livelihood.[9] Yi Ik, contrary to the neo-Confucians, believed that subjects such as geography and mathematics could be approached as real academic disciplines.[8]
  • An Jeong-bok, 1712–1791, student of Yi Ik.
  • Yun Hyu, 1617–1680
  • Park Se-dang, 1629–1703
  • Park Ji-won, 1737–1805, center of the Iyonghusaengpa (이용후생파 利用厚生派 School of Profitable Usage and Benefiting the People[4]), promoting industrialization, commerce, and the introduction of foreign technology.[2][10]
  • Sin Gyeong-jun, 1712–1781
  • Wi Baek-gyu, 1727–1798
  • Hong Dae-yong, 1731–1783, was an astronomer. he asserted the Copernican theory.
  • Yi Deok-mu, 1741–1793
  • Pak Je-ga, 1750–1815, was a part of the Northern School of Silhak and was particularly critical of the civil service examinations (kwago), which was designed to select the most intelligent men for high governmental service but had become corrupt and allowed incompetent men into government.[11]
  • Kim Jeonghui, 1786–1856, representing the Silsagusipa (실사구시파 實事求是派 School of Seeking Evidence[4])
  • Jeong Yak-yong, 1762–1836 (informally known as "Dasan"), leading the third wave of Silhak. Like a number of other Silhak scholars, he was interested in some Christian ideas. However, he renounced these deviations from Confucianism and thus (unlike his older brother) escaped the headsman's axe in the Catholic persecution of 1801.[12] He was an advocate for the right of the people (min kwon). He believed that rigid class boundaries should be broken; and, at one time, advocated something oddly like a Maoist commune system. Specifically, he suggested a "village land system," in which the village would hold its land in common and farm the land as a whole, while the products of the land would be divided based on the amount of labor contributed.[9] He seems to have stopped expressing these radical notions at some point, but continued to believe that the common people should be able to participate in the government, to criticize the government, and have a voice in selecting their leaders.[5] He wrote The Mind Governing the People (목민심서) and argued that a rigid social class order with the king at the top was necessary for the government to maintain order but also favored experimentation for the social good.[13]

See also

Notes

References


Simple English

Silhak (실학) was a teaching that was once very famous in the Joseun Dynasty, in Korea. Sil means "actual" or "practical," and hak means "studies" or "learning". It also meant "practical learning", like teaching how to farm and about economy.

Creation

Silhak was first made when the Joseun Dynasty was having a hard time, and after Japan had made war with them. The people of Korea were very poor, and their economical situation was not good. Also, all the farmland had grown barren and it was very hard to farm. To prevent all of this trouble, instead of learning Confucianism, some philosophers decided that a new education should be made to help the poor, and they named it Silhak.

Scholars

  • Kim Yuk, 1580–1658, introduced into Korea a new calendar, and supported technology.
  • Yi Su-gwang, 1563–1627, scholar-official who introduced Western science, religion, and social studies to Korea.
  • Yu Hyeong-won, 1622-1673, showing what is sometimes called the first generation of Silhak scholars and made a "public land system" where the state would give the land for the farmer to use.
  • Yi Ik, 1681–1764, of the second generation of Silhak scholars, founder of the Gyeongsechiyongpa (경세치용파 經世致用派 School of Administration and Practical Usage), helping economy, and government administration. This is known as the "equal field system" and was supposed to give enough land for each farmer to live. Yi Ik, different to the neo-Confucians, believed that subjects such as geography and mathematics could be real teachings.
  • An Jeong-bok, 1712–1791, student of Yi Ik.
  • Yun Hyu, 1617–1680
  • Park Se-dang, 1629–1703
  • Park Ji-won, 1737–1805, center of the Iyonghusaengpa (이용후생파 利用厚生派 School of Profitable Usage and Benefiting the People), helped industry, commerce, and the introduction of foreign technology.
  • Sin Gyeong-jun, 1712–1781
  • Wi Baek-gyu, 1727–1798
  • Hong Dae-yong, 1731–1783, was a person who studied the space.
  • Yi Deok-mu, 1741–1793
  • Pak Je-ga, 1750–1815, was a part of the Northern School of Silhak and was particularly angry of the civil service tests (kwago), which was made to pick the most intelligent men to serve the government but had become corrupt and allowed unintelligent men into government.
  • Kim Jeonghui, 1786–1856, representing the Silsagusipa (실사구시파 實事求是派 School of Seeking Evidence)
  • Jeong Yak-yong, 1762–1836 (informally known as "Dasan"), leading the third wave of Silhak. Like a number of other Silhak scholars, he was interested in some Christian ideas. He suggested a "village land system," in which the village would hold its land in common and farm the land as a whole, while the products of the land would be divided based on the amount of labor. He wrote The Mind Governing the People (목민심서) and argued that a high social class order with the king at the top was not good.

References








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