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Public lecture: “Universal values or cultural specificity? The reception of universal historical thinking in modern Japan.”

21 May 2014
Prof Takenaka
Prof Takenaka

Public lecture: “Universal values or cultural specificity? The reception of universal historical thinking in modern Japan.”

When: Wednesday 21 May , 11:00-1300
Where: Room: 1312.0018

Prof. Toru Takenaka, Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University is a guest professor EM Master Euroculture: Europe in the Wider World.

At its outset of modernization, Japan, just like many other non-European countries, was confronted with Western thinking of universal history. This is the worldview that supposed a single-track trajectory of human progress, culminating in the Western civilization. Despite its universalist façade, this teleological outlook had tacit Eurocentric or national connotations. This brought big trouble to the Japanese in their attempt to accommodate it when they wanted to emulating the Western wealth and power. In my lecture I will pick up two 19th century-thinkers, Fukuzawa Yukichi and Nakae Chomin, to see how the Japanese tried to cope with the challenge and what problems their strategies left behind. Furthermore, at its end, I am going to briefly touch on similar ideological constellations in other non-European countries from a comparative perspective.

The European integration is based, as far as its intellectual and moral foundation is concerned, on universalist values like democracy and human rights. Will a regional integration in Asia be able to find out a similar basis among its prospective members? Moreover, whatever intellectual and moral common ground may be envisioned, in what relation does it stand to the Western universal historical thinking that has been prevalent around the world?

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Last modified:08 July 2014 12.35 p.m.

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