This paper aims to look at Takahashi Toru’s perspective on Toegye Yi Hwang (退溪 李滉, 1501–1570), focusing on his lecture notes on the History of Joseon Confucianism. In general, Takahashi’s lecture notes are consistent with his academic quest to clarify the history of development of Joseon Confucianism under the premise of the Japanese colonial era and its concomitant spatial and temporal features. It is further clear that Takahashi’s interest in Toegye was absolute. In summary, Takahashi’s understanding of Toegye has the following characteristics. First, Takahashi reveals the transformation from an inductive method to a deductive method; that is, a change in the learning and performance of Toegye. Further, he emphasizes Toegye’s rendering of orthodox Joseon Confucianism within a framework of Pasa and Hyunjeong. In other words, the construction of Toegye’s study as the orthodoxy of Joseon Neo-Confucianism was the first task undertaken by Takahashi in his depiction of the history of Joseon Confucianism and, consequently, Takahashi collected the descriptions of the scholars who came before and after Toegye in his process of establishing the orthodox Neo- Confucianism proposed by Toegye. Second, Takahashi explains that the Yeongnam School and Kaeseong School were regional developments of the study of Neo-Confucianism in Joseon, while classifying the Sagong School, Daohak Seonsaeng School, and Kyeongje School based on the relevant scholars’ academic characteristics; furthermore, he breaks their theories down into the schools of Main Li and Main Ki and, ultimately, the school of Compromise. Hence, such an academic development of the history of Joseon Confucianism based on the classification of schools was first established by Takahashi. Third, an evaluation of Toegye’s study faithfully conveys the theory of Zhu Xi and thus succeeded in purifying the theory. This is sometimes cited as a proof of Joseon scholars’ dependence on China and is noted as a characteristic of Joseon Confucianism. The quest for answers to the issues inherent in Zhu Xi’s theory, which was started in earnest by Toegye, was taken up by later scholars, and this aspect forms the central point of Takahashi’s description of the history of Joseon Confucianism.
1. Introduction: Takahashi Toru’s Study on Joseon Confucianism and Toegye
2. Takahashi’s Perspective on Toegye Prior to the Lecture on the History of Joseon Confucianism
3. Overview of Takahashi’s Lecture Notes
4. Description of Toegye in Takahashi’s Lecture Notes on the History of Joseon Confucianism
5. Takahashi’s Perspective on Toegye after the Lecture on the History of Joseon Confucianism
6. Conclusions: Main Features of Takahashi’s Study on Toegye