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Öffentlichkeit und Privatheit in der Entwicklung des Bushidō: Europäisches Gedankengut im Diskurs des Jahres 1904


Nakamura, Yoko (2012). Öffentlichkeit und Privatheit in der Entwicklung des Bushidō: Europäisches Gedankengut im Diskurs des Jahres 1904. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 66(1):129-162.

Abstract

A concept dating back to the Japanese Middle Ages, the Samurai code of conduct known as Bushidō has received considerable attention in scholarly writing. Most studies accept the rendition of this moral concept in its early Showa reading, which represented an effort to create a seeming continuity from the Edo period into modern Japan. In doing so, most existing research ignores a number of important intellectual developments during the Meiji period. Most notably, suicides committed in the spirit of Bushidō during the Russo-Japanese war of 1904/05 made an ongoing discussion on Bushidō develop into a broad discourse.
The present study investigates contents and course of arguments of this discourse paying particular attention to two distinct aspects. First, it analyzes incidences of Western thought in the arguments brought forward during the discourse. Second, it scrutinizes the contribution of the historical background of Bushidō to a “genesis of public sphere” by distinguishing four dimensions: (a) scope of public discourse, (b) point of reference of prescribed loyalty, (c) subjects of Bushidō (for whom it was relevant), and (d) locus of responsibility for matters of morality. With respect to the first question the study iden¬tifies Western thought in various instances, with an attempt to integrate the Kantian concept of free will into Bushidō as the most significant finding. Pertaining to the second question, this research finds the 1904 discourse to effectively shape two of the four dimensions, namely for (a) through the broadening of public discourse into contemporary mass media, and for (d) through its tendency to ascribe the decision on suicide to the private sphere. The latter finding coincides with the above-mentioned influence of Kantian thought. In perspective, results of this research further challenge the received notion of Bushidō as following a constant line from the Edo era into the Showa period.

A concept dating back to the Japanese Middle Ages, the Samurai code of conduct known as Bushidō has received considerable attention in scholarly writing. Most studies accept the rendition of this moral concept in its early Showa reading, which represented an effort to create a seeming continuity from the Edo period into modern Japan. In doing so, most existing research ignores a number of important intellectual developments during the Meiji period. Most notably, suicides committed in the spirit of Bushidō during the Russo-Japanese war of 1904/05 made an ongoing discussion on Bushidō develop into a broad discourse.
The present study investigates contents and course of arguments of this discourse paying particular attention to two distinct aspects. First, it analyzes incidences of Western thought in the arguments brought forward during the discourse. Second, it scrutinizes the contribution of the historical background of Bushidō to a “genesis of public sphere” by distinguishing four dimensions: (a) scope of public discourse, (b) point of reference of prescribed loyalty, (c) subjects of Bushidō (for whom it was relevant), and (d) locus of responsibility for matters of morality. With respect to the first question the study iden¬tifies Western thought in various instances, with an attempt to integrate the Kantian concept of free will into Bushidō as the most significant finding. Pertaining to the second question, this research finds the 1904 discourse to effectively shape two of the four dimensions, namely for (a) through the broadening of public discourse into contemporary mass media, and for (d) through its tendency to ascribe the decision on suicide to the private sphere. The latter finding coincides with the above-mentioned influence of Kantian thought. In perspective, results of this research further challenge the received notion of Bushidō as following a constant line from the Edo era into the Showa period.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 66 (2012) > 1
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
Language:German
Date:2012
Deposited On:04 Jun 2012 14:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:51
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-62871

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