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Spirit, Qi, and the MultitudeA Comparative Theology for the Democracy of Creation$
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Hyo-Dong Lee

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823255016

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823255016.001.0001

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The Great Ultimate as Primordial Manyone

The Great Ultimate as Primordial Manyone

The Promise And Peril Of Toegye’S Neo-Confucian “Heterodoxy”

(p.106) 4 The Great Ultimate as Primordial Manyone
Spirit, Qi, and the Multitude

Hyo-Dong Lee

Fordham University Press

This chapter engages the Neo-Confucian Toegye, who points to an “idealistic” solution to the problem of the totalizing metaphysics of one Heavenly Pattern by allowing li or the Great Ultimate an independent dynamism of its own. The pivotal implication of Toegye’s solution is that change, difference, and multiplicity can be seen to belong to the ontological ultimate originarily and primordially, not secondarily and derivatively. In principle, this could open the path toward a genuine affirmation of the multiple self-creative becomings of the myriad creatures, since they could be seen as the embodied realizations of the primordial multiplicity of ideal potential harmonies within the Great Ultimate. Nevertheless, Toegye does not challenge Zhu Xi’s refusal to recognize the existence of an intrinsically unifying and harmonizing dynamic in qi. This results in a continuation of Zhu Xi’s tendency to devalue creaturely agency’s dependence on the spontaneous dynamism of qi.

Keywords:   Toegye, Neo-Confucianism, Great Ultimate, li, pattern, qi, psychophysical energy

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