On the contextual turn in the tokugawa japanese interpretation of the confucian classics: Types and problems

This article discusses the “contextual turn” in the interpretation of Chinese classics: the contextuality of Confucian classics in China was latent, tacit, and almost imperceptible; however, it became salient and explicit once the Confucian classics were introduced to Tokugawa Japan. Many a Japanese Confucian took ideas and values expressed in the Chinese classics and transplanted them into the context of Japanese politics and thoughts, in light of which the Japanese scholars staked out new interpretations of the classics. This “contextual turn” involved issues of two levels: the material political order (especially the Chinese-barbarian distinction) and the abstract political thought (especially the ruler-subject relation). It is pointed out that the Chinese empire was the Japanese Confucians’ “political foreign country” and “cultural homeland,” and the tension was evidenced by their interpretations of the term “Zhong’guo” appearing in the Confucian classics. The usual strategy adopted by the Japanese Confucians in interpreting Chinese classics was to “de-contextualize” them and then to “re-contextualize” them in their own Japanese environment.
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DOI 10.1007/s11712-010-9162-5
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Yong Huang (2009). Taiwanese Confucianism. Contemporary Chinese Thought 41 (1):3-9.

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