From Wife to Moral Teacher: Kang Chŏngildang on Neo-Confucian Self-Cultivation

Asian Philosophy 24 (1):28-47 (2014)


This paper aims to investigate the philosophical thought and moral practice of a Korean neo-Confucian female scholar named Kang Chŏngildang 姜靜一堂, who not only believed in moral equality between men and women and the possibility of female sagehood but actually empowered herself to become a moral paragon. Furthermore, Chŏngildang’s strong faith in moral equality between men and women enabled her to engage in social criticism of the existing educational system and social norms which discriminated against women, not by overcoming neo-Confucianism, commonly understood as essentially androcentric and patriarchal, but by wholeheartedly embracing and further re-appropriating it in the service of women’s moral self-empowerment and moral perfectibility. After explicating why Chŏngildang nonetheless subscribed to gendered roles and female virtue with reference to her neo-Confucian worldview, I suggest that she can be called a harbinger of Confucian feminism.

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Sungmoon Kim
City University of Hong Kong

References found in this work

Confucian Moral Self Cultivation.Philip J. Ivanhoe - 2000 - Hackett Publishing Company.
Confucian Moral Self Cultivation.Richard Garner & Philip J. Ivanhoe - 1999 - Philosophy East and West 49 (4):533.
Jen and Li in the "Analects".Kwong-loi Shun - 1993 - Philosophy East and West 43 (3):457-479.

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