Skip to content

Korean Women Philosophers and the Ideal of a Female Sage


Hwa Yeong Wang (Emory); Philip J. Ivanhoe (Georgetown University)

This talk introduces the life and thought of two late Joseon dynasty women philosophers: Im Yunjidang 任允摯堂 (1721-1793) and Gang Jeongildang 姜靜一堂 (1772-1832) who argued for the moral and spiritual equality of women and men based upon core principles of neo-Confucian philosophy. Gang looked to Im as her inspiration and extended and developed many of her central ideas, and so these two women constitute the first and only explicit female transmission 道統of the Confucian Way in history.

We will present them as women philosophers, exploring how they were able to overcome special challenges to the development of their philosophy, and how it informed the content and style of their philosophy. Toward the end of our talk, we will briefly explore their significance in the history of Korean women and Korean Confucianism.

About the speakers:
Hwa Yeong Wang is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Emory University in the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry. Her research aims to show why versions of Confucian ideas and practices still challenge and inspire contemporary societies not only in the East and the East Asian diaspora but also people living in the modern cosmopolitan world with a special focus on their influence on women and gender through ritual.

Philip J. Ivanhoe is a professor and department chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Georgetown University. He is an historian of Chinese thought, particularly Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism. Ivanhoe is a co-convener of the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues Research Group on Cosmopolitanism.

This event will take place online.