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The Dynamics of Knowledge Circulation

Cases from Korea


Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Marion Eggert

The book is about the evolution and transformation of knowledge and knowledge systems in the context of cultural contact. The articles take Korea as an example and deal with the configuration, dissemination and consolidation of knowledge in certain contexts of the past and present. Combining philological and social scientific approaches, this book is the result of a joint research project of the Korean Studies institutes at Freie Universität Berlin and Ruhr University Bochum pursued between 2009 and 2014.

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Marion Eggert - Pak Chi-wŏn, Ch’oe Han-gi and Early Modern Transformations of Conceptions of Knowledge in Korea


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Marion Eggert

Pak Chi-wŏn, Ch’oe Han-gi and Early Modern Transformations of Conceptions of Knowledge in Korea

Abstract Pak Chi-wŏn’s and Ch’oe Han-gi’s concepts of knowledge, each unique, are often handled within an implicit modernization narrative. This article tries instead to understand their epistemology in the context of the two men’s specific position within on-going processes of knowledge circulation, thus pointing to structural reasons for similarities with early 20th-century ideas.

While the metaphor of “knowledge circulation” does not immediately conjure up images of dynamic transformation, its methodological advantages in fact result from its implication that the circulation of ideas and of “items of knowledge” (including not only texts, but anything from memes to material objects) may set in motion ripples of change that eventually come to affect remoter areas of knowledge, finally extending to knowledge organization and social transformations. At the same time, the “sender” of the information is not left untouched by the process.

These assumptions seem to speak in favor of expecting far-reaching epistemic changes as the result of knowledge circulation, at least as soon as the latter reaches a certain critical level. At the same time, however, these ideas about the impact of knowledge circulation serve to call into question the notion both of systems of knowledge and of paradigm changes: On the one hand, the constant flow of knowledge and its concomitant dynamics will by necessity work to de-stabilize existing architec tures of knowledge...

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