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Kim Iryŏp (1896–1971)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-ZB009-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2023
Retrieved May 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

Philosophy and women have been an odd couple. In both the East and the West, thought traditions have been dominated by male thinkers. Buddhism is no exception. The discriminatory treatment of women in Buddhism not only violates the idea of equality, it conflicts with foundational Buddhist doctrines. Buddhism claims that nothing in the world has a permanent and independent essence. Beings exist through multi-layered interactions. If they do not have pre-given sustainable essences but exist through causes and conditions, treating gender as a justification for discrimination and for disqualifying women from enlightenment should be self-contradictory. Such a practice in Buddhist tradition, however, does not mean that the fundamental teachings of Buddhism are patriarchal or contradict women’s search for authentic identity and liberation (Gross 1992).

Kim Iryŏp (1896–1971), a female thinker and Buddhist nun in modern Korea, understood Buddhist teaching and practice as one of the main sources for her search for freedom. Through her proposals of the great self, creativity, and cultivation, Iryŏp promoted the idea that an individual being, either human or nonhuman, has an infinite capacity for transformation, which is a manifestation of her idea of freedom. Through the narration of her life story in her Buddhist philosophy, Iryŏp offers us a unique form of philosophising based on daily experiences instead of the dominant form of Western, male-oriented, and rationality focused philosophy.

Citing this article:
Park, Jin Y.. Kim Iryŏp (1896–1971), 2023, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-ZB009-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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