Political philosophy in Japan: Nishida, the Kyoto School and co-prosperity

New York: Routledge (2005)
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Nishida Kitaro, originator of the Kyoto School and 'father of Japanese Philosophy' is usually viewed as an essentially apolitical thinker who underwent a 'turn' in the mid-1930s, becoming an ideologue of Japanese imperialism. Political Philosophy in Japan challenges the view that a neat distinction can be drawn between Nishida's apolitical 'pre-turn' writings and the apparently ideological tracts he produced during the war years. In the context of Japanese intellectual traditions, this book suggests that Nishida was a political thinker form the very beginning of his career, and consequently, his later political works cannot be dismissed as peripheral to his philosophical project. Counter-intuitively however, Christopher Goto-Jones argues that a consistently political reading of his philosophy reveals a dissenting standpoint even during the height of the Pacific War. This book argues that the prevailing postwar tendency to dismiss interwar and wartime Japanese culture as fascist or ultra nationalist en total neglects a lively political discourse, which contained some serous and profound political insight and even dissent. By suggesting that Nishida tetsugaku was a voice of dissent during Japan's Great East Asia War, Goto-Jones presents a case for the rehabilitation of Nishida as a political thinker, and as an example of a Japanese resistance, able to make a valuable contribution to contemporary debates about international political, globalization , and inter-cultural relations. Offering a unique and potentially controversial view of the subject of Nishida and the Kyoto School, The Political Philosophy of Japan will be of huge interest to anyone studying Japanese History, Political Philosophy and comparative philosophy alike.



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