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James W. Heisig, Thomas P. Kasulis, and John C. Maraldo

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835521

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835521.001.0001

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Samurai Thought

Samurai Thought

(p.1103) Samurai Thought
Japanese Philosophy
James W. Heisig, Thomas P. Kasulis, John C. Maraldo
University of Hawai'i Press

This section provides an overview of samurai thought. One of the more complex issues in Japanese intellectual history is the question of whether there is such a thing as samurai philosophy, and if so, what it might consist of. From the 1890s onward, a romanticized image of the samurai emerged, motivated by cultural and political currents at the time. This idealization gave rise to the idea that “warrior thought” represented an independent and relatively homogeneous intellectual tradition that defined the content of samurai philosophy. After discussing the concept of bushidō, or the “Way of the warrior,” this section considers the attitude of Japanese warriors towards death and loyalty. It also examines the essentials of samurai thought, with particular emphasis on two important concepts: an awareness by samurai that they were members of a unique social class, and the belief that there is a necessity to maintain a balance between civil and military virtues.

Keywords:   samurai thought, samurai philosophy, samurai, bushidō, Japanese warriors, death, loyalty, social class, civil virtues, military virtues

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