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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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Pattern and Psychophysical Energy Are Equally Actual

Pattern and Psychophysical Energy Are Equally Actual

The Empathetic Plurisingularity of the Great Ultimate in Nongmun’s Thought

(p.142) 6 Pattern and Psychophysical Energy Are Equally Actual
Spirit, Qi, and the Multitude

Hyo-Dong Lee

Fordham University Press

This chapter discusses the Neo-Confucian Nongmun, who represents a more “naturalistic” solution to the problem of totalizing metaphysics. Nongmun’s core thesis is that “li and qi are equally actual,” meaning that they are totally parallel to each other in all respects, including their creatively harmonizing capacity. In fact li and qi may be seen as different aspects of one and the same ontologically creative ground that is both metaphysical and physical, one and many, indeterminate and determinate. For Nongmun, psychophysical energy is at the heart of the Great Ultimate, constituting both its primordial, ontologically ultimate plurisingularity and its creatively harmonizing power called “life-giving intention” (saeng-ui). Due to the materiality and physicality thus assigned to the Great Ultimate as primordial Manyone, its creatively harmonizing power can be construed as the affective power of mutual openness and attraction— that is, empathy— that exists among the primordial many within the Great Ultimate.

Keywords:   Nongmun, Neo-Confucianism, li, pattern, qi, psychophysical energy, Great Ultimate, empathy, affective, life-giving intention

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