1. TOYO UNIVERSITY >
  2. International Research Center for Philosophy >
  3. 1st Unit : 3rd Study Group Session

1st Unit : 3rd Study Group Session

1st Unit : 3rd Study Group Session

"Dissemination of Chinese Moral Books in Modern Japan and its Influence: Focusing on Nakae Toju's Conception of Religion"

The 1st Study Meeting, the 2nd Unit

On September 13, at the Meeting room of School of Literature, Hakusan Campus, Toyo University, Wu Zhen, IRCP Visiting Researcher (Professor at Fudan University, China) gave a talk titled "Dissemination of Chinese Moral Books in Modern Japan and its Influence: Focusing on Nakae Toju's Conception of Religion." Despite the lingering summer heat on the day of this event, there were nearly 20 participants in the session.

The Kagamikusa by Nakae Toju, who was called "Omi-Seijin [the sage of Omi]," is the first book in the history of Japanese moral books and had a significant effect on the intellectual history in the Edo period. Nakae Toju made much of the Di ji lu written by Yen Mao-yu, a thinker in the late Ming period, and adopted 48 out of 61 articles of kankaijorei [rules of admonition] in the Kagamikusa.

The 1st Study Meeting, the 2nd Unit

After introducing the Kagamikusa as an excerpt of the Di ji lu and analyzing the characteristics of the latter's reception, Prof. Wu discussed the influence of the Di ji lu on the subsequent intellectual history in the Edo period.

According to Prof. Wu, Chinese elements are clearly seen in Nakae Toju's conception of religion. Toju is said to have positively accepted Chinese ideas such as Yu Huang Shangdi or Tai Yi Shen "for the purpose of using them for myself" from the universalistic standpoint. Furthermore, however, there is an element of Japanese Shintoism in Toju's religious belief. That is, Toju had a philosophical tendency to accept Chinese religious ideas by rereading them as those of Japanese Shintoism.

Prof. Wu described this phenomenon as "mainlandization" or "localization," that is, "Japanization," and characterized the way Nakae Toju took in foreign religion as its typical example. He then demonstratively argued that such "localization" is observed with didactic moralists after Nakae Toju, including Asai Ryoi and Fujii Ransai.

According to Prof. Wu, cultural exchanges in history were by no means made unilaterally in a repressive manner: rather, each party took in the culture of the other party while, at the same time, rereading and sometimes criticizing it. He concluded that such "rereading" or "localization" was a measure to disseminate a useful foreign doctrine among the local general populace.