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Unformatted text preview: wal of interest in the West was the diversity in intellectual inquiry encouraged by the other heterodox schools of
scholarship; another was the strong leaning on the part of Tokugawa intellectuals as a whole toward the kind of practical study that Western
The actual start of the Dutch Studies movement was made possible
by the eighth Tokugawa shogun, Yoshimune (1684–1751), who in 1720
was persuaded by his advisers to lift all restrictions on the importation of
foreign books (i.e., Chinese and Dutch books) so long as they did not
deal with the still forbidden subject of Christianity. Yoshimune is noted
for his efforts to reform the shogunate, including the rather futile policy
of reviving the martial spirit of the samurai class. He was also a man who
greatly admired learning and was willing to patronize scholars of all
schools if he thought their ideas might be useful. He listened, for example,
to the views of Ogyû Sorai, even though these were quite at variance with
the orthodox Neo-Confucian attitude toward the state; and he agreed to
allow the pursuit of Western learning and even sponsored the study of
the Dutch language because he hoped they might be of practical value
to the shogunate.
Some information about Western science could be garnered through
translations of Western books into Chinese by Jesuit scholars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in China; but a working knowledge of
Dutch was obviously essential to the new students of Western learning if
they wished to go deeply into their studies. It is a tribute to the great zeal
of the early pioneers of Dutch Studies that they persisted in the painfully
tedious tasks of compiling Dutch-Japanese dictionaries and translating
technical books, at first only a few lines at a time, with only the limited
help they could obtain from the Dutch and their interpreters at Nagasaki.
Nevertheless, by the late eighteenth century, the scholars of Dutch
Studies had produced a respectable body of work, including dictionaries, Heterodox Trends 221 translations, and treatises on Western subjects. And, in 1811, the shogunate gave further impetus to their movement by opening an office for the
translation of foreign books in Edo.
The overwhelming interest of the early scholars of Dutc...
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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