As of AY 2020–2021, I am a second-year Ph.D. student in East Asian Studies at Princeton University. My research focus is neo-Confucianism, concerning metaphysics and epistemology, social and political philosophy, and modern and contemporary East Asian politics. Since my interest covers multiple disciplines and periods, I’m often asked how I align myself as a researcher. Here’s the answer for now: History of philosophy, where I refine philosophical arguments in neo-Confucianism, is my main field. Based on this work, I like to think about the philosophical underpinnings of the political thoughts from early and late modern and contemporary East Asia. Namely, how were (or are) a nation, government, and representation understood? How about values like liberalism, meritocracy, and elitism? How were (or are) Confucian thoughts used in justifying such a system?
To illustrate, the followings are the projects I’m currently working on:
1) elaborating how Yulgok Yi I understood the relationship between the dead and the living, and how this metaphysical view relates to his opinion on the class system.
2) investigating Liang Qichao’s understanding of knowledge through the lens of Wang Yanming, and how this shaped Liang’s preference of certain forms of government.
3) Dasan Jeong Yak-yong and late Chosŏn philosophers’ reception of Shangshu, the pre-classical Chinese text that had occupied an authoritative place in East Asian politics. This project is more philological, which is a new area for me, but I hope to become more familiar with different methodologies in understanding Confucian thoughts.
Lastly, in the near future, I plan to write about the new, contemporary wave of Confucianism. How do scholars from this wave assess the current liberal order and envision an alternative order based on Confucianism? Are their assessment and argument accurate and sound?
My work before coming to Princeton was related, but a tad bit different. At Tufts University, I double-majored in Philosophy and International Literary and Visual Studies (ILVS) and graduated with Summa Cum Laude, Highest Thesis Honors, and a departmental award from ILVS. My thesis, guided by Drs. Lee Edelman and Charles Inouye, was on the queer interpretation of political ideologies of the Japanese Imperial government in Korea and the North Korean dictatorship, and I substantiated my claim by using literary and cinematic examples. With the chapter summary of the North Korean part of this research, I won a writing competition open for undergraduate and graduate students and presented it internationally. I also took courses and participated in summer seminars in Korea and China to enhance my understanding of East Asian philosophy.
While I am stepping away from queer studies for now, I am hoping to get back to this topic someday. It may be from a different angle than the approach I took as an undergraduate student, but we’ll see what happens!