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CONCLUSION Aral Hakuseki brought Japanese political thought inhistorical writingto its height of development in the traditional period. But there were weaknesses in his thought, which became more apparent after his time. Hakuseki's legitimation of the Bakufu was entirely historical, and not theoretical. Eventually the Bakufu fell, in the middle of the nineteenth century, to forces inspired once more by the idea of imperial restoration, that is, to forces claiming that the Emperor had a superior claim to legitimacy. What was soobvious to Hakuseki, the historical justification of the Bakufu, turned out to have no validity at all. It was clear that the Tokugawa Bakufu had no intellectual resources to respond to the pressures that began to grow against it in the nineteenth century. It is remarkable that a government so powerful and long-established had such little hold on the minds of men, and fell so easily. The weakness of Hakuseki's thought was partly a general weaknessof Japanese Confucianism. Thousands of scholars laboured over the texts for 250 years, with the encouragement of the Bakufu, in the general belief that their work supported the regime. But Confucianism never investigated the variety of political forms, and never doubted the worth of the existing form, whatever it was. Instead it emphasized behaviour within the system, and scholars found endless ways to describe the necessity for observation of the five hierarchical social relationships, with particular emphasis on the need for unquestioning submission to rulers and parents. In response to a powerful demandthatunquestioning submission be made to the Emperor instead of the Shogun, Confucianism had nothing to say. Notes to the Conclusion are found on page 148. 130 CONCLUSION 131 The particular weakness of Hakuseki's thought was the result of the long tradition of Japanese political thinking that we have been examining . Wehave presented Hakuseki as the culmination ofthe tradition that began with Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. They started it with a brilliantly presented historical narrative of the gods, Emperors, and families of Japan. They accomplished the purpose of stating the political ideas of the new imperial government, and they did it so convincingly that no one before Hakuseki was able to conceive of another framework for history. The next groups to rise to power, the Fujiwara Regents and the military clans, had their say, tacking themselves onto the system in Historical Tales and War Tales. Problems and contradictions of the middle ages were examined by direct political analysis, especially Myde Shonin Denki, but this proved not to be a fresh direction in Japanese political thought. Instead the intellectuals returned to history. Thoughtfulworks were produced, and we see a steady ascendancy from Gukansho to Jinno Shotdki to Tokushi Yoron. In these terms, Arai Hakuseki represents the height of development withinthe Japanese tradition of political thought expressed in history. With him the discussion of history became secular and rational, and thus with Hakuseki Japan entered the modern age, whichis distinguished by rationalism and differentiation in intellectual endeavour. Hakuseki also fastened upon the location of political power as the prime fact of history, and made it, and not the will of the gods, into the basis for periodization. These were important achievements for the Japanese tradition of political thought. Yet they were not enough. Arai Hakuseki was unable to develop a taxonomy of political forms, like the Greeks, and to show how one form can turn into another. The Roman historian Polybius was able to argue for the virtue of the Roman constitution precisely because of his understanding of the forms of government and the causes of political change: There are sixkindsofgovernment, the three mentionedabove whichare in everybody's mouth (kingship,aristocracy, and democracy) and the three which are naturally allied to them, I mean monarchy, oligarchy, and mob-rule. Now the first of these to come into being is monarchy, its growth being natural and unaided; and next arises kingshipderived from monarchy by the aid of art and by the correction of defects. Monarchyfirst changes into its vicious form, tyranny; and next the abolishment of both gives birth to aristocracy. Aristocracy by its very nature degenerates into oligarchy; and whenthe commonsinflamedby anger takes vengeance on this governmentfor its unjust rule, democracy comes into being; and in due course the licence and lawlessness of this form of government produces mob-rule to complete the series. The truth of what I havejust said will be quite clear to anyone who pays due attention to such beginnings, origins, and changes as are in each case...

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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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