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In Search of the WayThought and Religion in Early—Modern Japan, 1582-1860$
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Richard Bowring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795230

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795230.001.0001

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Competing visions of the future

Competing visions of the future

Chapter:
(p.239) 16 Competing visions of the future
Source:
In Search of the Way
Author(s):

Richard Bowring

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795230.003.0016

This is the period that saw the rise of ‘Dutch Studies’ or rangaku, which started with the growth of translations from Dutch books available via Nagasaki. Not many of these were printed but much of this material circulated privately in manuscript form so that it is likely that far more was known about the West than might at first appear. Certainly Yamagata Bantō’s work Yume no shiro shows that an Ōsaka merchant had good access to this kind of information. The effect of this knowledge can be seen in the writings of the scholar Kaiho Seiryō, who began to question the ideological underpinnings of Tokugawa society, putting forward the proposition that social behaviour was at root a series of contracts between individuals. There are signs that this may have eventually led to a concept of individual rights but that final step was never taken.

Keywords:   Dutch studies, rangaku, Nakai Chikuzan, Yamagata Bantō, Kaiho Seiryō, kokueki

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