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Korean Confucian Philosophy


Admission requirements

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Concepts of Selfhood, Language and Thought, and at least one of the courses World Philosophies: China, World Philosophies: India, World Philosophies: Africa, World Philosophies: Middle East.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package D.


This course offers a comprehensive exploration of the intellectual development of the Korean Confucian tradition throughout the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910). We will deepen our understanding of Confucian moral philosophy by conducting an in-depth study of “Sage Learning” (Seonghak 聖學) in the early Joseon period.

Additionally, we will analyze significant philosophical debates that shaped Korean Neo-Confucianism, such as the Confucian-Buddhist debate, the Four-Seven debate, and the Horak debate. Moreover, we will delve into the reformative efforts within traditional Confucian society that emerged in later Joseon, known as “Practical Learning” (Silhak 實學), and explore its relationship with “Western Learning” (Seohak 西學), which was influenced by Catholicism.

This investigation into Korean Confucian Philosophy will provide a solid foundation for comprehending contemporary Korean culture.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • intellectual development of the Korean Confucian tradition;

  • philosophical debates regarding Neo-Confucian metaphysics and ethics;

  • Confucian ideals of moral self-cultivation and sociopolitical reform.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • formulate critical responses to the philosophical texts and ideas;

  • critically analyze notions and arguments presented in primary and secondary resources;

  • present this knowledge in written and oral form (presentations and paper).


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Final essay

  • Presentation

  • Attendance and participation in course discussion


  • Final essay (70%)

  • Class presentation (20%)

  • Attendance and participation (10%)


The resit will consist of an opportunity to resubmit the final semester paper that was not sufficient. The grades for other exam components (proposal, presentation, attendance and participation) remain in place. Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the course cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The reading list will be posted on Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


All other information.