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In Search of the WayThought and Religion in Early—Modern Japan, 1582-1860$
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Richard Bowring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795230

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795230.001.0001

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The Way of Man

The Way of Man

(p.121) 8 The Way of Man
In Search of the Way

Richard Bowring

Oxford University Press

Itō Jinsai provides a good example of a Japanese scholar who disagreed fundamentally with the Song Neo-Confucian interpretation of the classics, considering that Zhu Xi had reintroduced Buddhist ideas by the back door. He insisted on returning to the original texts of, for example, the Analects, and reading them afresh. He rejected the Great learning on the grounds that it was out of character with the rest of Confucius’s teaching. In fact he dismissed all attempts at metaphysics, arguing that the Way of Heaven could not be fathomed; the only concern of Man must be with the Way of Man. Jinsai was one of the most original thinkers of the Tokugawa period, helped by the fact that he came from a family of well-to-do merchants and had the freedom to study and teach what he liked rather than being answerable to a master.

Keywords:   Itō Jinsai, Way of Man, Analects, Hall of Ancient Meanings, rejecting principle, human nature

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