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Woher kommt der Mensch? - Zur Rezeption der Evolutionslehre im Bildungswesen Japans und der Schweiz


Reinfried, Heinrich (2008). Woher kommt der Mensch? - Zur Rezeption der Evolutionslehre im Bildungswesen Japans und der Schweiz. Asiatische Studien / Etudes Asiatiques, LXII(1):229-278.

Abstract

In the early 1870s, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by natural selection led to controversy in Zurich both at the University as well as in the general public, whereas at the University of Tokyo it was acclaimed some years later without the least sign of protest. As far as the initial stage of the reception is concerned, this contrast may be ascribed to the differing attitudes towards religion in the
two countries. At a later stage, however, reactions in the two countries became quite similar as authorities in both countries were increasingly preoccupied with avoiding conflicts arising at the intersection of the requirements of modernization and nation-building. In Switzerland, with its long history of confessional strife, the administration faced the task of rationalizing the state without offending religious sensibilities, while in Japan, government officials with a predominantly secular mindset felt the need to bolster the collective identity of the new Meiji-State by establishing a founding myth. In the educational systems of both countries, the ensuing discussions boiled down to the question as to whether empirical methods should be applied to explaining the origins of man and history. In fact, both countries ended up pursuing a similar policy of giving preference to mythology in the teaching of history in primary schools. As a result, the very same separation of value spheres which the historian Kume Kunitake had mentioned in 1873 as one of the conspicuous traits of the inhabitants of Zurich, took root some years later in Japan, too, as the fictitious
Emperor Jinmu, in analogy to Moses in the Bible, was firmly established in History textbooks as founding father of the Japanese state.

Abstract

In the early 1870s, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by natural selection led to controversy in Zurich both at the University as well as in the general public, whereas at the University of Tokyo it was acclaimed some years later without the least sign of protest. As far as the initial stage of the reception is concerned, this contrast may be ascribed to the differing attitudes towards religion in the
two countries. At a later stage, however, reactions in the two countries became quite similar as authorities in both countries were increasingly preoccupied with avoiding conflicts arising at the intersection of the requirements of modernization and nation-building. In Switzerland, with its long history of confessional strife, the administration faced the task of rationalizing the state without offending religious sensibilities, while in Japan, government officials with a predominantly secular mindset felt the need to bolster the collective identity of the new Meiji-State by establishing a founding myth. In the educational systems of both countries, the ensuing discussions boiled down to the question as to whether empirical methods should be applied to explaining the origins of man and history. In fact, both countries ended up pursuing a similar policy of giving preference to mythology in the teaching of history in primary schools. As a result, the very same separation of value spheres which the historian Kume Kunitake had mentioned in 1873 as one of the conspicuous traits of the inhabitants of Zurich, took root some years later in Japan, too, as the fictitious
Emperor Jinmu, in analogy to Moses in the Bible, was firmly established in History textbooks as founding father of the Japanese state.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
290 Other religions
Language:German
Date:2008
Deposited On:27 Nov 2008 09:31
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:36
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717
Official URL:http://www.peterlang.com/Index.cfm?vID=86850&vHR=1&vUR=4&vUUR=11&vLang=D

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