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had been destroyed during the advance toward unification in the late sixteenth century. And although Buddhism remained very much part of the
daily lives of the people, it not only ceased to hold appeal for many Japanese intellectuals but indeed even drew the outright scorn and enmity of
The vigorous and colorful outburst of artistic creativity in the Momoyama epoch was the first major reaction to the gloom of medievalism.
With the advent of the Tokugawa period, this reaction spread to the intellectual field and stimulated a great Confucian revival. Interestingly, as
we observed in an earlier chapter, it was the Buddhist church—and especially the Zen sect—that paved the way for the upsurge in Confucian
studies during Tokugawa times. Japanese Zen priests had from at least
the fourteenth century on assiduously investigated the tenets of Sung The Flourishing of a Bourgeois Culture 171 Neo-Confucianism, and in ensuing centuries had produced a corpus of
research upon which the Neo-Confucian scholarship of the Tokugawa
period was ultimately built.
Neo-Confucianism had evolved during the Sung period in China
partly as a reaction against Buddhism, which from mid-T’ang times had
increasingly come to be criticized as an alien and harmful creed, and
partly as an attempt to revitalize native Confucian values and institutions.
In the process of its formulation, however, Neo-Confucianism absorbed
much that was fundamentally Buddhist, including an elaborate cosmology and metaphysical structure. Of the various schools of Neo-Confucianism that emerged in China, it was the teachings of the great twelfthcentury philosopher Chu Hsi (1130–1200) that eventually were accepted
as the orthodox doctrine of Confucian learning. From the early fourteenth century until the abolishment of the examination system in 1905,
Chu Hsi’s brand of Neo-Confucianism was painstakingly studied and
rehashed by countless generations of candidates for the degrees of official
preferment and entry into the ministerial class that were traditionally
bestowed by the Chinese court.
In Japan, too, it was Chu Hsi’s Neo-Confucianism that was embraced
by the Tokugawa shogunate as an orthodoxy. Although shogunate
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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 UBC.
- Spring '13