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Unformatted text preview: Tokugawa shogunate from the late seventeenth century on.
It was precisely to the question of strengthening the shogunate institutionally in order to meet the new demands of the eighteenth century that
the Ancient Studies scholar Ogyû Sorai turned his attention. And it is
interesting to note that shogunate authorities were not so enamored of the
orthodox Neo-Confucianist view of the Tokugawa government as a purely
moral agent that they did not lend an attentive ear to the heterodox, legalistic views of Sorai.
Although I have stressed that one of the features common to many
heterodox thinkers of the Tokugawa period was their desire to approach Heterodox Trends 215 things in a more direct and rational fashion, it should be noted that certain scholars who remained within the Neo-Confucian orthodoxy exhibited a similar bent. The best example is Arai Hakuseki (1657–1725), a
rònin who served as the personal adviser to two shoguns from 1709 until
1715. Hakuseki was noted for certain bold and forceful policies he initiated, including his efforts to restore the value of the coinage after the
currency debasement of 1695, to revise the shogunate’s “Laws for the
Military Houses,” and to restrict the outflow of gold and silver bullion
from Japan through the foreign trade with the Dutch and Chinese at
Nagasaki. But, from the standpoint of cultural history, Hakuseki’s rationalism is best observed in the field of pure scholarship, where he wrote
books on such wide-ranging subjects as archaeology, sociology, philology,
history, and even conditions in the West.
In all of his scholarly work, Hakuseki exhibited a degree of rationality
and a quest for empirical evidence that make his writings valuable secondary reference sources even today. When dealing with Japan’s prehistory, for example, he urged the investigation of Chinese and Korean
accounts of early Japan and not simply acceptance of the mythical versions of the country’s origins as recorded in the Kojiki and Niho...
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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.
- Spring '13