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Darwin, Dharma, and the DivineEvolutionary Theory and Religion in Modern Japan$
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G. Clinton Godart

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824858513

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824858513.001.0001

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The Promise of Utopia

The Promise of Utopia

Socialist Darwinism and Evolutionary Utopianism

(p.119) Chapter Four The Promise of Utopia
Darwin, Dharma, and the Divine

G. Clinton Godart

University of Hawai'i Press

In early twentieth century Japan, socialists and anarchists appropriated evolutionary theory and reoriented evolutionary theory to the Left. They promoted ideas of materialism with a critique of the ideology of the kokutai and State Shintō, thus triggering clashes between evolutionary theory and the ideology of the state. This development was balanced by the emergence of new visions of evolutionary utopianism, with Buddhist and Christian variants. New theories of evolution were introduced, such as those of Kropotkin and Bergson, and theories of vitalism emerged as a new form of resisting materialism. Utopianists, such as Kita Ikki, Kagawa Toyohiko, and Nichiren Buddhists, used evolutionary theory to predict extreme optimistic visions of the future. Both the left and utopianists deployed evolutionary theory to produce visions of modernization and progress that were very different from the vision of modernization produced by the state or by the religious ideology of the kokutai.

Keywords:   evolutionary theory, socialism, anarchism, Kropotkin, Bergson, vitalism, utopianism, Kita Ikki, Kagawa Toyohiko, Nichirenism

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