[KS] Inquiry from a New York Times columnist

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreanstudies.com
Sat Jul 23 08:20:14 EDT 2016

Lieber Ron Lieber, and All:

Did you all just mention "filial piety"? And red lingerie stands for 
filial piety or something? How cute! And getting a 孝 on the one and a 
Jesus tattoo on the other nostril then seals the sweet deal. In Europe, 
the popes issued those indulgences until Luther complained at customer 
service. But before that it proved to be a well working fiscal model of 
morality & redemption as well.   

Money is the very 'cheapest'--because least straining, most 
effective--way in regulating families in a capitalist market economy. I 
mean, in medieval (and pre-medieval) times, and to some degree even 
still in the 19th century, parents would sell off their children or 
have them work for them as needed. So, in East Asia that (in my view 
slavish) 孝 concept had its real-world economic model attached to 
it--or possibly reversely. Marx, most unfortunately, did never 
seriously look into Asian economies, and so we are mostly left with 
interpretations of Confucius readers, Asianists, philosophers, and 
ethnologists & anthropologists (the guys who measure your bones to then 
tell you how you fit into human development ... you guys still do 
that?). The actual economics of that economic concept, 孝 as part of 
material culture in both historical and in today's nouveau riche 
societies like Korea or Taiwan, seems largely underrepresented in 
academic works. That stands in quite some contrast to the 
historiography of Europe, where we had very lively discussions on 
economic history in connection with traditions and religions with all 
sorts of viewpoints and approaches. 


Frank Hoffmann

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list