Shangdi Is Watching You: Tasan and Big Moralizing Gods

Chŏng Yagyong (1762-1836), known by his pen name Tasan, was a philosopher of Chosŏn Korea. He argued that moral behavior—that is, prosocial behavior—required belief in a supernatural agent that is concerned with human norms, able to monitor human behavior at all times and in all places, and willing...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Main Author: Lovins, Christopher 1980-
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: [2015]
In:Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Year: 2015, Volume: 83, Issue: 2, Pages: 464-489
Online Access: Volltext (Verlag)
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Summary:Chŏng Yagyong (1762-1836), known by his pen name Tasan, was a philosopher of Chosŏn Korea. He argued that moral behavior—that is, prosocial behavior—required belief in a supernatural agent that is concerned with human norms, able to monitor human behavior at all times and in all places, and willing and able to punish antisocial behavior, and he identified Shangdi 上帝 (also referred to as Heaven 天) as such an agent. This is strikingly similar to the so-called Big Moralizing Gods hypothesis. This article explores these similarities in order both to provide empirical support for Tasan's argument and to investigate how his work might in turn suggest avenues of future research into Big Moralizing Gods. In doing so, this article serves as a helpful example of consilience—that is, the vertical integration of disciplines in the physical and social sciences and the humanities into a single framework in which different levels of explanation are consistent with one another—in the study of Korean religion and in understanding Tasan's thought.
ISSN:1477-4585
Contains:Enthalten in: American Academy of Religion, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/lfv002