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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The appropriation of Western philosophy in Japan in the Meiji Period came about through a transformation of the Japanese language. It occasioned a new way of articulating thought that allowed Japanese to make philosophy their own, a discipline proper to the ongoing formation of their culture. This process helped redefine Japan’s past intellectual traditions, interpreting them in the light of Western philosophical concepts and problems. “Enlightenment” Scholars like Nishi Amane, Fukuzawa Yukichi, and Katō Hiroyuki created neologisms, altered traditional styles of writing, and introduced concepts new to Japanese tradition. Later philosophers like Inoue Tetsujirō and Inoue Enryō adapted European philosophical categories to recast old traditions and renew them as relevant for a modernized Japan. In their day, much of their terminology and argumentation was exotic and enigmatic, even while their style appears archaic today. A recognizably twentieth-century philosophical idiom had to wait for thinkers like Ōnishi Hajime and Nishida Kitarō.

Keywords: civilization, Dutch Studies, Enlightenment, Fukuzawa Yukichi, Inoue Enryō, Inoue Tetsujirō, Katō Hiroyuki, Nishi Amane, rights, tetsugaku

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