Young Woon Ko, a professor of World Religion, has recently published a new book titled “The Non-Hierarchical Way from Yijing to Jeongyeok: A New Paradigm for East Meeting West.” Published in January 2023, it is the fourth book that Ko has written on theological and philosophical topics. It is a scholarly work that took Ko four to five years to complete. In The Non-Hierarchical Way, Ko explores Yijing and Jeongyeok from non-hierarchical viewpoints.
“I wanted to challenge many scholars’ stereotypical assumptions on Yijing,” Ko said. Hierarchical worldviews focus on superiority, on ideas such as one gender, one race, or one species being superior to others. In Western ideology, this hierarchical view extends to conceptions of God, with humans being inferior to God.
Ko invites the reader to let go of these prejudices to interpret Yijing in a non-hierarchical way. He combines the ideas of psychologist Carl Jung, philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, anthropologist Rene Girard, and mathematician Georg Cantor to imagine a new interpretation of East Asian ideology that finds parallels with Western ideology.
Ko emphasized, “I demonstrate that God as the personal or impersonal [being] are not two different issues.” In his book, Ko reviews Kim Ilbu’s Jeongyeok, and provides evidence that it intensifies the correlation of opposites to challenge the reader’s assumption of ideas contained in Yijing as hierarchical.
Yijing, better known as “The Book of Changes,” is an ancient Chinese composite text that has become one of the most influential East Asian texts in the West. It is the oldest known book in Chinese literature. Yijing originated around the year 3000 BCE and was translated through oral tradition until it was put into writing during the Zhou Dynasty sometime around the year 1200 BCE. Later, East Asian ideologies, such as Confucianism and Daoism included ideas derived from Yijing, due to its influence in the region. The Yijing text takes a non-theistic religious approach, in contrast with Jeongyeok, and focuses on the process of change.
Ko studied abroad as an undergraduate, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hanshin University in 1994. He later obtained a Master of Divinity from Boston University in 1998, and a Master of Theology from Harvard Divinity School in 2000. He received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2004.
“The Non-Hierarchical Way from Yijing to Jeongyeok” is published by Lexington Books, a publishing imprint of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, Inc. and is listed at $105.
An Amazon Kindle version of the book is available at https://www.amazon.com/Non-Hierarchical-Way-Yijing-Jeongyeok-Paradigm-ebook/dp/B0BQPRL8NK.