Chu hsi neo confucian philosophy is a dualistic

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Unformatted text preview: xpansion in the use of money, spread at a rate that would have been inconceivable a century earlier when it had been confined mainly to the central provinces and the foreign entry ports of Kyushu. It is ironic that the prosperity of the Tokugawa period most greatly benefited that class, the townsmen, that the authorities had emphatically relegated to the bottom of the social scale. Yet this was inevitable. Both samurai and peasants were dependent almost solely on income from agriculture and constantly suffered declines in real income as the result of endemic inflation; only the townsmen, who as commerts could adjust to price fluctuations, were in a position to profit significantly from the economic growth of the age. We should not be surprised, therefore, to find this class giving rise to a lively and exuberant culture that reached its finest flowering in the Genroku epoch at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries. The mainstays of Genroku culture were the theatre, painting (chiefly in the form of the woodblock print), and prose fiction, all of which, while drawing heavily on Japan’s aristocratic cultural tradition, evolved as distinctly popular, bourgeois forms of art. Before turning to the chònin arts, however, let us look first at the development of Confucianism during the early Tokugawa period inasmuch as this most Chinese of creeds set much of the intellectual tone for the period. The Japanese had, of course, absorbed Confucian thinking from the earliest centuries of contact with China, but for more than a millennium Buddhism had drawn most of their intellectual attention. Not until the Tokugawa period did they come to study Confucianism with any great zeal. One of the most conspicuous features of the transition from medieval to early modern times in Japan was the precipitous decline in the vigor of Buddhism and the rise of a secular spirit. The military potential and much of the remaining landed wealth of the medieval Buddh...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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