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SUBJECT AND SUBSTRATUM : ON JAPANESE IMPERIAL NATIONALISM

SUBJECT AND SUBSTRATUM : ON JAPANESE IMPERIAL NATIONALISM This paper addresses the theoretical and philosophical questions concerning how an individual identified him/herself as a member of an ethnic, racial, or national community in the context of Japanese Imperialist discourse during the 1930's. The central focus is Tanabe Hajime. Together with his mentor Nishida Kitaro, Tanabe established the so-called Kyoto School of Philosophy in the 1920's. With his background in the philosophy of sciences and mathematics, and modern European metaphysics, Tanabe created a philosophical argument for the multi-ethnic nation-state, and proposed the universalistic concept of Japanese national identity which positively evaluates and integrates individuals of different ethnic backgrounds into one. He constructed the Logic of Species (Shu no Ronri) according to which a member of the Japanese Empire could identify with Japan precisely because she or he can participate in the Japanese State which represents the whole, inclusive of all the ethnic groups. Relying upon the Hegelian concept of negativity, he explained the two different levels of belonging: particularistic belonging to the specific identity (shu) such as ethnicity, and universalistic belonging to the generic identity (rui). And he further demonstrated that ethnic identity is far from fixed, and is brought into the subject's self-awareness only insofar as the subject negates it and is free from it. In other words, the subject becomes aware of her/his ethnic origin only when s/he negates it thereby participating in a higher order of social formation, the State, under which ethnic multiplicity is subsumed. Thus the species of ethnicity is constituted only insofar as it is negatively mediated by the genus, that is, the State. Tanabe saw the essential form of human freedom in this negative relation of the subject to his ethnicity, and understood a subject's belonging to a nation as a dialectic and negative process of mediation between the species and the genus. While postwar Japan was built upon the premises of ethnic nationalism, Japanese imperial nationalism of the pre-war period was afraid of ethnic nationalisms which could challenge the Empire's rhetoric of multiethnicity and pluralism. Tanabe's Logic of Species was a response to such needs of Japanese Imperialism and it represented a philosophical attempt to undermine ethnic nationalism. Not surprisingly, it served as a metaphysical foundation for the idea of the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Cultural Studies Taylor & Francis

SUBJECT AND SUBSTRATUM : ON JAPANESE IMPERIAL NATIONALISM

Cultural Studies , Volume 14 (3-4): 69 – Jul 1, 2000
69 pages

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References (36)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1466-4348
eISSN
0950-2386
DOI
10.1080/09502380050130428
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper addresses the theoretical and philosophical questions concerning how an individual identified him/herself as a member of an ethnic, racial, or national community in the context of Japanese Imperialist discourse during the 1930's. The central focus is Tanabe Hajime. Together with his mentor Nishida Kitaro, Tanabe established the so-called Kyoto School of Philosophy in the 1920's. With his background in the philosophy of sciences and mathematics, and modern European metaphysics, Tanabe created a philosophical argument for the multi-ethnic nation-state, and proposed the universalistic concept of Japanese national identity which positively evaluates and integrates individuals of different ethnic backgrounds into one. He constructed the Logic of Species (Shu no Ronri) according to which a member of the Japanese Empire could identify with Japan precisely because she or he can participate in the Japanese State which represents the whole, inclusive of all the ethnic groups. Relying upon the Hegelian concept of negativity, he explained the two different levels of belonging: particularistic belonging to the specific identity (shu) such as ethnicity, and universalistic belonging to the generic identity (rui). And he further demonstrated that ethnic identity is far from fixed, and is brought into the subject's self-awareness only insofar as the subject negates it and is free from it. In other words, the subject becomes aware of her/his ethnic origin only when s/he negates it thereby participating in a higher order of social formation, the State, under which ethnic multiplicity is subsumed. Thus the species of ethnicity is constituted only insofar as it is negatively mediated by the genus, that is, the State. Tanabe saw the essential form of human freedom in this negative relation of the subject to his ethnicity, and understood a subject's belonging to a nation as a dialectic and negative process of mediation between the species and the genus. While postwar Japan was built upon the premises of ethnic nationalism, Japanese imperial nationalism of the pre-war period was afraid of ethnic nationalisms which could challenge the Empire's rhetoric of multiethnicity and pluralism. Tanabe's Logic of Species was a response to such needs of Japanese Imperialism and it represented a philosophical attempt to undermine ethnic nationalism. Not surprisingly, it served as a metaphysical foundation for the idea of the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere.

Journal

Cultural StudiesTaylor & Francis

Published: Jul 1, 2000

Keywords: Tanabe Hajime Logic Of Species Negativity Mediation Imperial Nationalism

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