An important book for anyone interested in East Asian Confucianism and cosmology, and necessary reading for students of Japanese neo-Confucianism… Essential.
The Philosophy of Qi: The Record of Great Doubtsby Kaibara Ekken
Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714) was a prominent Japanese scholar who spread Neo-Confucian ideas and moral teachings throughout Japan. He was also known as the "Aristotle of Japan" for his studies of the natural world. Of his many writings, The Record of Great Doubts is the culmination of a lifetime of seeking a unified view of humans and nature. The text/i>
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Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714) was a prominent Japanese scholar who spread Neo-Confucian ideas and moral teachings throughout Japan. He was also known as the "Aristotle of Japan" for his studies of the natural world. Of his many writings, The Record of Great Doubts is the culmination of a lifetime of seeking a unified view of humans and nature. The text represents one of the central reflections in East Asian thought on the significance of qi ch'i, the material force coursing through all life, and is available here for the first time in English with a comprehensive introduction situating Ekken within the currents of his time and within the larger debates of Neo-Confucianism in East Asia.
The Record of Great Doubts emphasizes the role of qi in achieving a life of engagement with other humans, with the larger society, and with nature as a whole. Rather than encourage transcendental escapism or quietism, Ekken articulates a philosophy of material force as a basis of living a life of commitment to the world. In this spirit, moral cultivation is not an isolated or a self-centered preoccupation, but an activity that occurs within the dynamic forces of nature and amid the rigorous demands of society. In this context, a vitalism of qi is an emergent force, not only providing the philosophical grounding for this vibrant interaction but also giving a basis for an investigation of the natural world that plumbs the principle within things. Ekken thus aimed to articulate a creative and dynamic milieu for moral education, political harmony, social coherence, and agricultural sustainability.
The Record of Great Doubts embodies Ekken's profound commitment to Confucian ideas and practices as a method for establishing an integrative ethical vision, one he hoped would guide Japan through a new period of peace and stability. A major philosophical treatise in the Japanese Neo-Confucian tradition, The Record of Great Doubts illuminates a crucial chapter in East Asian intellectual history.
Tucker's contribution to this discussion of qi is groundbreaking.
What People are saying about this
As one of the most prolific writers of premodern East Asia, Kaibara Ekken is noted for his erudition, inquisitiveness, and influence. The Record of Great Doubts, composed when he was eighty-four years old, clearly demonstrates his creativity and originality. This is an excellent annotated translation of Ekken's masterpiece. Mary Evelyn Tucker's book is a major contribution to Neo-Confucian thought and will be essential reading for students.
The Philosophy of Qi will be of great interest to everyone studying traditional East Asia. This is a fascinating translation rendered into highly readable English. Mary Evelyn Tucker's introduction is a brilliant survey of the history of Confucian thought in China, Korea, and Japan, as well as an introduction to the specifics of this text.
Kaibara Ekken's famous Record of Great Doubts demonstrates that the Confucian tradition, contrary to its conventional image, fosters independent, critical thinking. Mary Evelyn Tucker's lucid translation finally provides us with access to the full text of this pivotal work in the history of Japanese thought.
Meet the Author
Mary Evelyn Tucker is visiting professor at Yale in the Institution for Social and Public Policy and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is also a research associate at the Harvard-Yenching Institute and the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard. She is the author of Moral and Spiritual Cultivation in Japanese Neo-Confucianism and is the coeditor of Confucianism and Ecology and of the two volume Confucian Spirituality. With John A. Grim, she is the director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology, an international project involving conferences, books, and a web site. Together the editors of the ten volume series World Religions and Ecology published by the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard.
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