There is still no standard work on the history of Korean philosophy in a Western language.
Even in Korea, there is no general consensus on whether premodern intellectual traditions in Korea qualify for a history of philosophy: a well-known situation for us working in global or intercultural philosophy. However, a distinctive Korean interest in philosophical historiography can be traced back to as early as the 8th century: Buddhists and Confucianists have produced a number of histories of their traditions.
But the very concept of history – and of time – was different, leading to different historiographical narratives. These premodern “origin histories” have in common that they locate the philosophical truth at the beginning point of history. From there, they formulate a narrative of gradual decline and a detailed genealogy of successors of this truth: a genealogical-eschatological view of history.
I will show how such historiographical strategies were slowly transformed by Korean Buddhism and Confucianism to form a consciousness of a national “Korean” philosophy, reaching its first peak in the early 20th century, under Japanese rule. I will also briefly talk about the first encounter of Korean and European philosophy in the 17-18th Century in the context of the Jesuit Mission in China.
About the speaker
Sool Park is a researcher in the DFG-Project “Histories of Philosophies in a Global Perspective” at the University of Hildesheim. He is also a lecturer in Korean literature at the Universities of Berlin and Bochum.
He specialises in global history of philosophy, East Asian philosophy and translation theory, investigating the intellectual interaction and intertwinement between different cultures and languages. His recent publications are: Histories of Philosophy and Thought in Korean Language (Georg Olms, 2023) and Paradoxien der Grenzsprache und das Problem der Übersetzung [Paradoxes of Limit Language and the Problem of Translation] (2022).
He has also translated works by Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Novalis and Trakl into Korean.