At the turn of the twentieth century in Japan there was a self-conscious attempt to formulate an ethical canon that could provide a codification of dutiful sacrifice, selfless violence, suicidal loyalty, and honourable death. In the context of deep contestation about the relationship between tradition and modernity, nationalism and imperialism, particularism and universalism, Japanese intellectuals rediscovered and (re)invented the so-called ‘bushidō’ tradition in an ideological move that sought to render Japan as a spiritual warrior tasked with the liberation of self and other.
Chris Goto-Jones (BA, MA, Cambridge; MPhil, DPhil, Oxford) is Professor of Comparative Philosophy & Political Thought at Leiden University, where he is also the dean of Leiden University College in The Hague. Recent work includes, Political Philosophy in Japan: Nishida, the Kyoto School and Co-Prosperity (New York: Routledge, 2005), (ed.) Re-Politicizing the Kyoto School as Philosophy (New York: Routledge, 2008), and A Very Short Introduction to Modern Japan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). He is presently completing a book for Cambridge University Press, Beyond the Samurai: Bushido as Politics, Philosophy, and Ideology (2013).
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