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49 - Literary thought in Confucian ancient learning and Kokugaku

from Part IV - The Edo period (1600–1867)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2016

Haruo Shirane
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
Tomi Suzuki
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
David Lurie
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
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Summary

In the Tokugawa period, poetry played an important role in the ethical and political philosophies of many Confucians in the Ancient Learning or Kogaku movement, such as Ito Jinsai and Ogyu Sorai, who sought to recover the original meaning of Confucian texts, which they believed had been distorted by later commentaries. Poetry played a similar role for many scholars of Kokugaku or nativism, such as Kamo no Mabuchi and Motoori Norinaga, who advocated a purely native Japanese culture freed from Confucianism and other foreign influences. Sorai linked empathy to a political ideal of decentralized feudalism, which he saw as characteristic of ancient China up until the Zhou dynasty, and contrasted with the centralized bureaucracies of the Qin dynasty and later. In his later works Mabuchi put forth a philosophy of Japanese cultural superiority in which he claimed that Japan originally possessed a spontaneous social harmony and unity with nature that were lacking in China.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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