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CHAPTER 10 Secular, Pragmatic History in TokusM Yoron (1712) History After Kitabatake Chikafusa's Time Gukansho and Jinno Shotoki are called works ofhistorical argument. A third study that is conventionally grouped withthem is Tokushi Yoron (A Reading ofHistory, 1712)by Arai Hakuseki. It brings to a conclusion the long line of discussion initiated by the construction of an imperial framework for history in Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, and continued by later works that attempted to solve the problem of contradiction of imperial values by the actual events of history: everyone believed in the Emperors, but many mistreated them. In addition, the ideology of the imperial house did nothing to save it from resistance against itself and from defeat in war. It is noteworthy that the tradition of historical writing in Japan retained a dogged adherence to realism in dealing with this contradiction between values and facts. We have seen that some types of historical writing gave a certain play to imagination, as in Historical Tales, which idealized the Fujiwara clan, and the War Tales, which romanticized the life of the warriors. But these were precisely the works that did not attempt to deal withthe question ofthe indignitiesand insults given to the Emperors. The Historical Tales and WarTales, as we have noted, were one-sided, devoted only to describing the glories of the aristocracy and the warriors respectively. However, the works that retained a national focus and dealt with court-Bakufu relations never strayed far from the facts. They never flinched from approaching the fundamental problem, that others governed instead of the Emperor, and Notes to Chapter 10are found on pages 147-48. 116 SECULAR, PRAGMATIC HISTORY IN TOKUSHI YORON (1712) 117 that people would actually fight against the Emperor. This caused progress in the development of historical understanding, up to the point where the rationalism of Arai Hakuseki could make a contribution. The new aspect of historical understanding that was introduced by Jinno Shotoki, namely secular historical explanation, became the unquestioned assumption of Arai Hakuseki. We have argued that in Jinno Shotoki this was the second ofthree ascending levels of causation: (1) the mystical power of the imperial regalia, (2) the role of institutions governing behaviour, and (3) the will of the Shinto gods. For Kitabatake, the will of the Shinto gods was the most important causative factor in history. For Arai Hakuseki, the gods did not exist in the way they did for Kitabatake and the people of ancient Japan; thus for him the second level of secular historical explanation was the main level of historical reality. His task was to explain how events led from one stage to another, resulting eventually in the growth of the institutions of his own time, and for this he resorted to the political and military record. This approach marks him as the first "modern" historian of Japan, because modem rational history finds its explanations only in the record of human events and not in the hand of God. The secularism and pragmatism of Hakuseki's times were a product of the long historical development ofthe middleages from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. With the deepening of military conflict and its spread throughout Japan in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, pragmatism came to prevail universally. There was no one who had an ethical or intellectual commitment to national concerns. Universal systems of government, by the court and the Ashikaga Bakufu alike, deteriorated completely, and political power became decentralized amongthe former officers and vassals of those governments. Under the pressure of continuous civil war, the units of political organization underwent continuous change, resulting in the formationof about 250independent domains in the mid-sixteenth century. Japan became a collection of kingdoms, with no form of federation beyond transitory military alliances. In these circumstances there was virtually no concept of a larger purpose for war; imperial house and Ashikaga Bakufu were both completely irrelevant. Surprisingly, both continued to exist. No one took the trouble to extinguish them because they did no apparent harm, until finally Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) chased the last Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiaki, out of Kyoto in 1573. Hardly anyone noticed. The regime that Arai Hakuseki served, the Tokugawa Bakufu, was established by conquest at the last great feudal battle at Sekigahara in 1600. Tokugawa leyasu (1542-1616) reconstituted the Bakufu as a system of government, taking the title of Shogun in 1603, and set about establishing an institutional basis for the preservation ofTokugawa rule. The measures involved the continuous relocation of the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780889208742
Related ISBN
9780889209978
MARC Record
OCLC
243566096
Pages
174
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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