On Zhu Xi’S Remark of Mingde and the Debate of Mingdeamong Korean Confucians in Joseon Dynasty

Project Details


Zhu Xi’s remark on Mingde (明德) in Great Learning has been concerned and discussed by the Confucians. The issue is that what doesMingde refer to, Xin(心) or Xing(性)? The interpretative reasonableness of ach definition of Mingde can be found in Zhu Xi’s Texts. According to the contemporary Confucian, Mr. Mou Zhongsan’s interpretation based on both of his philosophical argument and plenty of Zhu Xi’s texts, Mingde refers to Xing. Furthermore, Mr. Mou revised Zhu Xi’s remark on Mingde. The Koreans Confucians between Hua-Xi School (華西學派) and Gen-Zhai School (艮齋學派), in the Joseon Dynasty, also debated the question. After I investigated the related texts to Mingde among Daxue huo-wen (大學或問), Zhu zi yu lei(朱子語類), and Zhuzi wenji(朱子文集), my interpretation should be as: when Zhu Xi uses the term, Mingde, the prospect that he emphasizes refers to Xin, and sees Li as the standard of moral judgment remaining within the Xin. Therefore, the meaning of Mingdeimplies Xin and Xing, and the relation, in the functioning meaning, between Xin and Xing is inseparable. My interpretation of Mingde is supposed to be coherent to Zhu Xi’s understanding of the relation between Xin and Xing, when he discusses Mingde. This project attempts to justify this interpretation of Mingde of Zhu Xi’s moral philosophy. Based on this interpretation, Zhu’s terminology, to be devoted to practice the moral judgment when it appears [yin qi suo fa er sui mingzhi; 因其所發而遂明之], means that Li which remains within Xing spontaneously functions. In this sense, one’s ordinary rational understanding of morality is not acquired from the experience. And one of the purposes of Zhu’s practical theory is to elevate one’s“ordinary rational understanding of morality”toward “philosophical rational understanding of morality”(chen-chih; 真知). Zhu’s terminology, huoran guantong (豁然貫通), whose meaning is not “radical transformation [yizhi tiaoyue;異質跳躍]” has theoretical basis. I believe that this should be a reasonable and appropriate explanation of Zhu Xi’s moral theory.
Effective start/end date1/08/1831/07/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • Zhu-Xi
  • Mingde
  • Korean Confucianism
  • Contemporary Confucianism


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