Toegye and Motoori Norinaga are considered practical philosophers whose lives were almost contemporaneous. During their lifetimes, both struggled to solve the gap between the ideal and the real. In particular, they were fully aware of the importance of the Neo-Confucian concepts of Li (理) and Qing (情). Neo-Confucianism was the universal knowledge, ideology, and political system of the time, and thus it can be assumed that they shared the same ideological background. Nevertheless, they developed their central ideas in different directions of the Li-Qing axis even if ultimately they shared the same objective, that is, to achieve the absolute stability of society. Based on these similarities, it is appropriate to make a comparative study of the two philosophers’ ideas. The world according to Toegye’s thinking is one that considers Gong (公) and Si (私) as opposites. Individuals are always worried as they struggle between Si and Gong, but eventually they must sacrifice their own self-centered interest, Si, and move towards Gong. Toegye concludes that all the basic elements of this world, placed on individuals as a world, are composed of “the Four Sprouts and Seven Emotions.” Thus, in order to solve the conflict between Gong and Si, as well as between Jun-zi (君子) and Xiao-ren (小人), Tian-li (天理) and Ren-yu (人慾), and others alike, it is necessary to suppress and rule over personal emotions and desires, so that the personal world can be fostered in a good and honest way. When these processes are realized, people can overcome all their Si and eventually be united in Tian-li, to become the ideal human called Sheng-ren (聖人, sage). On the other hand, the world according to Norinaga’s thinking is one without any awareness of the boundaries between Gong and Si. Because faith is a premise in every individual mind, they already form a good and honest community. This community has two implications; first, since they are under the protection of their own gods, all of their acts in the community can be ensured of legitimacy from the god. Consequently, individuals have made their god responsible for their moral distresses between good and evil, while they must simply complete their daily tasks. In this case, the existence of other countries outside of the good and honest community represents the absolute evil to their society; this influences the existence of their community, increasing the cohesion between inhabitants and boosting their values, particularly related with goodness and honesty. The second implication is the utilization of every person’s Qing as a way to unify the community. Qing is the unavoidable presence of emotions that every human possesses. The world amplified by personal emotion is called the “World of Gong” and in this world, the presence of Li loses its importance both within and outside of the human being, and merely retains significance as an ironical concept proving the superiority of Qing. Thus, Norinaga eliminates all Li from his theory, and aims for a people who express their personal feelings without hesitation as the conceptual ideal human being. The opposite conceptual ideal human being from Toegye and Norinaga still provides many implications for modern society. In the history of mankind, there has always been a conflict between Gong and Si, “morality and personal desire” and “discipline and emotions.” The two concepts of the ideal human, fulfilled with Li and Qing, provide us with a deeper train of thought as we struggle every minute with the conflict of personal desire.
2. Toegye’s Sage: the one who embodies Li
3. Motoori Norinaga’s Hikaru Genji: the one who expresses Qing