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Title:A vehicle of social mobility: utilitarian factors in the rise of Neo-Confucianism in the early Tokugawa period
Author(s):Park, Doyoung
Director of Research:Toby, Ronald P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Toby, Ronald P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ruppert, Brian Douglas; Koslofsky, Craig M.; Chow, Kai-Wing
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Fujiwara Seika
Hayashi Razan
Abstract:This dissertation explores the utilitarian aspects of the Neo-Confucianism’s rise in the early Tokugawa period. Neo-Confucianism was an important intellectual foundation for political leaders because it served as the cultural medium of Chinese civilization. Since the Kamakura period, Zen monks had monopolized access to Neo-Confucian scholarship to enjoy exclusive political patronage. However, Fujiwara Seika, a Neo-Confucian convert from Zen, changed this situation. He established a private school to train a younger generation of Neo-Confucianists in Kyoto. His school liberated the access to Neo-Confucianism from Zen Buddhism’s institutional grip and expanded the pool of Neo-Confucianism’s followers. Soon, the leaders of Tokugawa politics increased recruitment of Neo-Confucianists to the detriment of Zen monks since the shogunate’s hiring of Hayashi Razan. Some previous scholars have regarded this hiring wave as a sign of Neo-Confucianism’s ideological triumph over Buddhism in Tokugawa politics. However, this dissertation disputes that idea and suggests that Tokugawa leaders preferred Neo-Confucianists because they were more accessible, professional, and economically effective than Zen monks. Successful role models like Razan stimulated the mind of commoners and rōnin, both of whom had lost vehicles of social mobility after Hideyoshi’s separation of peasants and samurai. With the ambition to enhance their social status, commoners found Neo-Confucian scholarship a useful vehicle for social mobility, and these utilitarian motives spread the increasing preference of Neo-Confucianism throughout Tokugawa Japan society.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Doyoung Park
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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