The term “Confucianization” often simplifies various political activities and their accompanying ritual debates in early Joseon and thus makes it difficult to understand the complicated historical processes of the Joseon dynasty. Examining Joseon officials’ debates about the sacrifice to Heaven and the sacrifice to Dan-gun, this paper challenges the historical premise that Joseon people could not but have a China-centered view as a result of its “Confucian transformation.” This paper also suggests that for the Joseon elite, Confucian thoughts were useful resources which could be referred to when necessary, not an absolute or inflexible tenet by which all of their thoughts and practices were restrained and controlled. Even though Joseon politicians referred to the Classics, which were filled with Confucian precepts and ideas, it should not simply be said that their repeated debates on ritual propriety were intended only to Sinicize their state or dogmatize a specific ideology. Rather, those ritual debates should be understood as Joseon’s own way of state building which is worthy of study as an example to better understand the diversity and differences in the historical development of various states in the world.
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