tirsdag 31. august 2021

Confucianism: The Conservatism of the East

In 1912, the Meiji Emperor of Japan died. “On the night of the Imperial Funeral,” writes the preeminent Japanese novelist of the era, Natsume Soseki (1867–1916), “I sat in my study and listened to the booming of the cannon. To me, it sounded like the last lament for the passing of an age.” Indeed, an age had passed, but not, as the nostalgic tone of these lines might suggest, the final days of traditional Japan. Instead, the Meiji era (1868–1912) had marked probably the most radical leap from old to new in all of history, a consciously implemented program of changing the ancient land of Japan overnight into a modern, Western-style nation-state. Economic infrastructure, political institutions, the military, educational, and medical systems all were refashioned on Western models.