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To Become a Sage: The Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning

From the publisher’s website:

Yi Hwang (1501-1570), better known by his pen name T’oegye, is generally considered Korea’s preeminent Neo-Confucian scholar. The Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning is his final masterpiece, a distillation of the learning and practice of a lifetime, and one of the most important works of Korean Neo-Confucianism. In it he crystallized the essence of Neo-Confucian philosophy and spiritual practice in ten brief chapters that begin with the grand vision of the universe and conclude with a description of a well-lived day. In To Become a Sage, Michael Kalton supplements a superb translation of this pivotal text with useful commentary that will greatly enhance its value and interest to the lay reader.

The Ten Diagrams is the first complete primary text of Korean Neo-Confucianism to be translated into English. Korea’s Yi Dynasty (1392-1910), the only East Asian regime founded exclusively under Neo-Confucian auspices, was unique in its allegiance to the orthodox Ch’eng Chu school, predominant in China, Korea, and Japan. Although the Ten Diagrams is a relatively short work, it fully presents the entire vision of Neo-Confucianism as framed in that school. Kalton provides a brief history of Neo-Confucianism in China and Korea as well as commentary that includes extensive passages from T’oegye’s voluminous personal correspondence. These annotations expand the meaning distilled in each chapter. They help the uninitiated reader understand the basic elements of the complex Ch’eng Chu school of Neo-Confucianism, while enabling the scholar to distinguish characteristic aspects of Korean Neo-Confucianism as presented in the thought of the nation’s leading philosopher of the time.

Michael C. Kalton is associate professor of East Asian religions at Wichita State University. Because of this book he was awarded the 1987 prize from the International T’oegyehak Study Institute, given for an outstanding contribution to the study of Neo-Confucian philosophy and of T’oegye studies. Kalton is the first Westerner to receive the prize.

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