T’oegye’s Arguments on the Four Beginnings and Seven Feelings: A Phenomenological Inquiry

  • Xi Lin
  • Liju XingEmail author
Original Paper


This article aims to phenomenologically examine T’oegye’s arguments on the Four Beginnings and Seven Feelings, attempting a theoretical reconstruction through “founding” and “alterity”, so as to reveal the relations and differences between the Four Beginnings and Seven Feelings. On the one hand, the Four Beginnings constitute a founding substratum, on the top of which the Seven Feelings may be founded. Moreover, whereas the Four Beginnings and Seven Feelings share the same assumption of alterity or intersubjectivity, they differ in their emphasis on whether li (理 principle) or qi (氣 material force) shall be prioritised. The priority of principle over material force is inherent in the notion of the Four Beginnings, while for the Seven Feelings, it is the other way around. When confronted by an “other”, one will invariably face a choice to make, in “deontological consideration of the other’s interest” or “private preference”. There is an emphasis that “deontological consideration shall prevail” in the Four Beginnings, for which it is “purely good”. By way of comparison, the Seven Feelings may be affected more often than not by “private desire or preference”, for which reason it will manifest the Janus faces of being both good and evil.


The Four-Seven Debate Altarity Founding relations Otherness Intersubjectivity 


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Copyright information

© Fudan University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IAS-FudanFudan UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Centre for Korean StudiesFudan UniversityShanghaiChina

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