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Making a Moral SocietyEthics and the State in Meiji Japan$
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Richard M Reitan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832940

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832940.001.0001

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Approaching the Moral Ideal

Approaching the Moral Ideal

National Morality, the State, and “Dangerous Thought”

Chapter:
(p.114) Chapter 5 Approaching the Moral Ideal
Source:
Making a Moral Society
Author(s):

Richard M Reitan

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824832940.003.0005

This chapter examines the national morality movement (kokumin dōtoku), a state-sponsored articulation of a “unique Japanese morality,” and its opposition to the so-called “dangerous thought.” National morality emerged as the dominant form of moral inquiry among rinrigaku academics in early twentieth-century Japan. This morality of the national folk posited as a moral ideal a morally homogeneous society of dutiful subjects all equally loyal to the state. Competing visions of the state, the individual, and the good were represented as “dangerous thought” and violently suppressed. This chapter first considers the connections between national morality and personalism before explaining how, why, and when a reconfiguration of national morality took place. It also explores what exactly was dangerous about “dangerous thought” and how it came to occupy a central position in Inoue Tetsujirō's conception of the good. Finally, it discusses the strategies deployed by national morality to suppress dangerous thought and how they were resisted.

Keywords:   national morality, moral ideal, dangerous thought, rinrigaku, state, good, personalism, Inoue Tetsujirō, Japan

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