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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

China’s past has been an important issue for both Chinese and Japanese political thought, and Japanese visions of the Chinese past changed as they slowly began to decenter China. This chapter traverses several conceptions of the past in both places: the Confucian ideal of the ancient past as ideal, the past as part of a genealogy of a divine Japanese emperor, and the past as part of an evolutionary process. Specifically, the chapter traces concepts of the past from classical Confucianism through early modern and modern thinkers, including Gu Yanwu, Ogyū Sorai, Motoori Norinaga, Fukuzawa Yukichi, and Zhang Taiyan. These visions of the past are not merely temporal, but also spatial or geographical, and each vision engages with the present political situation by positing an alternative future.

Keywords: Confucianism, fengjian/feudalism, Tokugawa intellectual history, national learning, modernity, Fukuzawa Yukichi, tianxia/all-under-heaven, alternative modernity

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