Tokugawa Political Writings

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The modern political consciousness of Japan cannot be understood without reference to the history of the Tokugawa period, the era between 1600 and 1868 that preceded Japan's modern transformation. Tetsuo Najita introduces the ideas of the leading political thinker of the period, Ogyu Sorai (1666-1728), a pivotal figure in laying the conceptual foundations of Japan's modernization. His basic thoughts about history and the ethical purposes of politics are presented, revealing the richness of the philosophical legacy of eighteenth-century Japan, a legacy which cannot be seen through the perspective of 'westernization'. His ideas reveal a vision of human diversity and individual virtue which can be viewed in comparative perspective, as well as an insight into the history and politics of Japan. The texts are accompanied by a chronology of Sorai's life, a glossary, a guide to persons mentioned in the text, and a guide to further reading, as well as Professor Najita's introduction, which puts Sorai's work into philosophical and historical context.