Authenticating Culture in Imperial Japan: Kuki Suzo and the Rise of National Aesthetics.
Suzo Kuki was a cosmopolitan figure in Japanese philosophical history with a liking for European travel. He was influenced by the writings of Europeans like Michel Foucault and the 'Frankfurt School' theorists, and dabbled in a wide range of philosophical interests. These ranged from British utilitarianism to suicide as the 'quintessential expression of Japanese idealism'.
During the 1920s and 1930s in Japan intellectual thought turned round sharply on itself to a re-discovery of Japan's cultural past, unsullied as many thought by the modernisation that was a consequence of the 'opening up of Japan' to western influences in the 1850s. A further consequence was the building up of a repressive state control of Japanese culture and intellectual thought with the support of the intelligentsia - as Tosaku Jun pointed out in Nihon ideorogiron. This control of the national culture smoothed the way to the Japanese sentiment of Hakko Ichiu ('The Whole World Under One Rule', that is, Japanese colonialism) at the heart of 1930s militarism and the machinations of the Tokko ('Thought Police').
The author traces the patterns of the Japanese philosophy of culture from its intellectual regeneration in the late nineteenth century to the 1930s. From the developing story can be drawn bases for understanding the contemporary dichotomy of Oriental and Occidental thought, particularly on 'modernity'. The volume is a useful addition to the series 'Twentieth-Century Japan: The Emergence of a World Power'.
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Feb 1, 1997|
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