The political philosophy of Miki Kiyoshi: A close reading of the philosophical foundations of cooperative communitarianism

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Steffensen, Kenn Nakata
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University College Cork
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The thesis is a historical and philological study of the mature political theory of Miki Kiyoshi (1897-1945) focused on Philosophical Foundations of Cooperative Communitarianism (1939), a full translation of which is included. As the name suggests, it was a methodological and normative communitarianism, which critically built on liberalism, Marxism and Confucianism to realise a regional political community. Some of Miki’s Western readers have wrongly considered him a fascist ideologue, while he has been considered a humanist Marxist in Japan. A closer reading cannot support either view. The thesis argues that the Anglophone study of Japanese philosophy is a degenerating research programme ripe for revolution in the sense of returning full circle to an original point. That means returning to the texts, reading them contextually and philologically, in principle as early modern European political theory is read by intellectual historians, such as the representatives of Cambridge School history of political thought. The resulting reading builds critically on the Japanese scholarship and relates it to contemporary Western and postcolonial political theory and the East Asian tradition, particularly neo-Confucianism. The thesis argues for a Cambridge School perspective radicalised by the critical addendum of geo-cultural context, supplemented by Geertzian intercultural hermeneutics and a Saidian ‘return to philology’. As against those who have seen radical reorientations in Miki’s political thought, the thesis finds gradual progression and continuity between his neo-Kantian, existentialist, Marxian anthropology, Hegelian and finally communitarian phases. The theoretical underpinnings are his philosophical anthropology, a structurationist social theory of praxis, and a critique of liberalism, Marxism, nationalism and idealism emphasising concrete as opposed to abstract theory and the need to build on existing cultural traditions to modernise rather than westernise East Asia. This post-Western fusion was imagined to be the beginning of a true and pluralistic universalism.
Kyoto School , Miki Kiyoshi , Japan , Marxism , Confucianism , Political philosophy , Political theory , Communitarianism , History of political thought , Liberalism , Nationalism
Steffensen, K. N. 2014. The political philosophy of Miki Kiyoshi: A close reading of the philosophical foundations of cooperative communitarianism. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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