Online ISSN : 2187-5278
Print ISSN : 0387-3161
ISSN-L : 0387-3161
Two Types of Rationalism in Max Weber's Essay on Chinese Confucianism and Their Historical Significance for Educational Thought of Tokugawa Japan
Kunio Kawahara
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2002 Volume 69 Issue 1 Pages 147-155


In this paper dealing with Weber s essay on Chinese Confucianism in his ‘comparative essays in the Sociology of Religion’, I have attempted to clarify the basic characteristics of educational ideals in a comparison of Puritan rationalism. This is in accordance to Weber's rational mastery of the world and Confucian Rationalism, meaning rational adjustment to the world. Then I applied these typological categories to his description of feudal Japan to consider what educational perspective his comparative essay on the Chinese Confucianism brought up in the intellectual history of feudal Tokugawa Japan, where Confucianism also developed. The results of my pursuit are as follows: To be sure, it is possible to presuppose that the educational ideal of Japanese Confucianism is different from Puritan Rationalism, whose idea of Calling (Beruf) assumed an objective and impersonal(selfless) character (Sachlichkeit). There are two aspects: (1) Should the former educational ideal be presupposedly characterized as non-objectivity (Unsachlichkeit) and that the giving and affectionate human relationships (Personalismus) based on filial piety? (2) Should the former, as ethics of feudal society, which aimed at chivalry, also be presupposedly characterized as cult of the personal? Considering these aspects, Japanese Confucianism is similar to Chinese Confucianism. On the other hand, however, it is possible to presuppose that unlike Chinese Confucianism, the ethical characteristics of feudal Japan are similar to Protestantism. There are two aspects (1) A cardinal virtue in feudal Japan was honor which emphasized the vassals' loyalty based on the spontaneous decision of each individual. (2) The ethos in feudal Japan made much of ‘plays’ which not only cultivate aristocratic sensibilities of distance and dignity but also are characterized as self-discipline against animal-like predisposition. In these ways feudal Japan is similar to the self mastery idea of ascetic Protestantism. Here we can propose a question on the hypothesis from Weber's essay. How did the educational thoughts materially develop in the intellectual history of Tokugawa Japan? In short, how did rational mastery of the world (r.m.), and/or rational adjustment to the world (r.a.) develop. These two concepts of rationalism were strictly connected to the fundamental educational attitudes. The former is Sachlichkeit (impersonal character)-oriented, the latter is Personalismus-oriented. Which educational rationalism was more predominant in the intellectual history? We can characterize this question as one of the Weber-problems in the history of educational thoughts of Tokugawa Japan. This question is significant in terms of the spiritual modernization in Japan. We may assume, on the one hand, Ogyu Sorai as a case of rational mastery of the world, and, on the other hand, Confucianism after Sorai as a case of rational adjustment to the world.

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