This issue of the Journal of Korean Religions is on Confucian Spirituality in East Asian Contexts with guest editor, Philip J. Ivanhoe. From the editor’s introduction:
Clifford Geertz writes, ”We are, in sum, incomplete or unfinished animals who complete ourselves through culture—and not through culture in general but through highly particular forms of it.”1 At least part of his point is that unlike other animals, many of whom—like bees, ducks, or dolphins—live in complex and orderly societies, human beings are creatures that come into the world with only a partially written script, unsure of exactly what characters they are to play, what roles they should fulfill, and how they and their actions contribute to some larger scheme or plan. Like culture, religion attempts to fill in the script by providing accounts of human nature, the proper roles humans should play, and how human actions contribute to some grand vision or cosmic plan. Nevertheless, as Geertz makes clear, we can only understand how religion does what it does by looking carefully at particular religions. This special issue of the Journal of Korean Religions seeks to do just that by being dedicated to ”Confucian Spirituality in East Asian Contexts.” The five essays it contains explore a set of interrelated issues about how Confucians, among them Koreans, fill in the script of human life aiming to orient and guide human beings to satisfying and meaningful lives. These essays describe key components of a distinctively Confucian form of spirituality by analyzing characteristically Confucian concerns with cultivating the self in ways that complete human nature, enable one to fulfill one’s proper roles within family and society, take one’s correct place in the world, and realize the Heavenly ordained purpose of one’s life.