Abstract and Keywords
This study explores Neo-Confucianism as a set of philosophical teachings that developed in distinctive ways in Japan. The study suggests that virtually all expressions of Confucian philosophy from Song times forward, in the wake of centuries of Buddhist domination of China and most of East Asia, were expressions of Neo-Confucianism. The study emphasizes differences between Japanese Neo-Confucianism and Chinese and Korean Neo-Confucianism by highlighting the distinctive relationships between Japanese Neo-Confucianism, Christianity, and Shinto, noting how, on the one hand, Japanese Neo-Confucians generally opposed Christianity as a foreign heterodoxy but, on the other, often embraced Shinto as a comparable expression of many of its own ideas, especially those found in the Book of Changes. The study also examines Neo-Confucian ideas in Meiji Japan, noting how they contributed to the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement of the mid-Meiji, but also to late-Meiji conservatism and the subsequent rise of nationalist ideological expressions.
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