Donghak and sacramental commons: Eastern learning, creation consciousness, and Korean socioecological ethics
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The purpose of this dissertation is to construct a Korean socioecological ethics based on comparative studies of the Eastern indigenous ecological spirituality of Donghak and the Western creation consciousness of sacramental commons. As this thesis examines the significant similarity between Donghak (initiated by 수운 , Su-woon) and sacramental commons (elaborated by John Hart), it highlights their common socioecological understandings of "interrelatedness," "interdependence," "interaction," and "transformation." In the nineteenth century, before the intrusion of Western modernization into traditional Korean society, Donghak's revolutionary egalitarian thinking included liberating and empowering minjung, the common people. Donghak's radical ideas are precursors of socioecological concepts; its social consciousness has affected contemporary Korean ecological spirituality. By virtue of Donghak's spirituality and consciousness, Korean socioecological ethics might overcome the harm of Western anthropocentric influences. This project envisions a utopian socioecological community and a versatile pedagogical program as a socioecological project in Korean contexts. Although Koreans have experienced a conflict between traditional value systems and Western imported ideologies, eco-community movements have been developed that integrate them. These movements emphasize participation, solidarity, and responsibility for local communities, and aim to change daily life through a transformation of cultural consciousness and contextual conduct. The methodological significance of this dissertation lies in the interreligious and transcultural dialogue between Donghak and sacramental commons. Elements of comparative socioecological ethics--themes of "relational community," "relational consciousness," and "interconnectedness"--in both Donghak and sacramental commons reveal their shared, holistic understanding of a socio-ethical relationship among the divine Spirit, humans, and nature. These comparative constructs suggest how socioecological ethics can restore socioecological relationality to a dynamic unity of the divine and the earthly, the infinite and the finite, transcendence and immanence, universality and particularity, and individuality and diversity. Donghak and sacramental commons emphasize relational socioecological consciousness, the role of divine Spirit, and the importance of practice and projects based on this holistic understanding. Their common creation consciousness can provide a shared socioecological vision and have a transformative role in Korean contexts.