Japanese Studies | Valedictory talk: old words and new ideas
Japanese Studies presents
Valedictory talk: old words and new ideas
29 September 2023, 4–5.30 pm (webinar)
I will look back at the central object of my research: a century-long stream of political theories in pre-Meiji Japan. The images of a better society proposed by their authors are intriguing, but more remarkable is their understanding of the nature of political and social systems. For the, probably, first time ever, those are viewed as pure human inventions without any grounding on facts of nature or truths. While this insight might seem quite abstract, the freedom suddenly won by political theories led in the end to the imagination of a very different type of society, one we can call modern. But how could a modern political theory be expressed in the only vocabulary available – that of the Confucian tradition? And why was the revolutionary intuition of the invented character of institutions possible or even intelligible at all in a feudal and very conservative society?
About the speaker
Dr Olivier Ansart is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the School of Languages and Cultures. Dr Ansart carries out research on Japanese and East Asian intellectual history, focusing particularly on the political theories of Japanese Confucian thinkers of 18th century. He lectures on early modern Japanese history, the Tokugawa period, as well as social and political issues of contemporary Japan.