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Asien-Orient-Institut UFSP Asien und Europa (2006–2017)

Yamagata Bantô’s Yume no shiro: An attempt to reorganize the knowledge available to Japan

Verantwortlich für das Dissertationsprojekt: Christoph Mittmann, M.A.
Finanzierung: UFSP Asien und Europa
Projektdauer: September 2013 – August 2016
Promotionskommission: Prof. Dr. Raji C. Steineck, Asien-Orient-Institut – Japanologie/UFSP Asien und Europa; Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Behr, Asien-Orient-Institut – Sinologie/UFSP Asien und Europa
Forschungsfeld: Begriffe und Taxonomien

In his work Yume no shiro 夢の代 [Instead of dreams], Yamagata Bantô (1741-1821) summarized his thoughts concerning all aspects of human life. Within the context of Yamagata’s personal background, this meant a complete reorganization and reinterpretation of the knowledge and traditions available to Japan. This project will analyze how he achieved this and what the outcome of his endeavor was.
Until today, much has been written about Yamagata’s atheism and his theories regarding economics. But one of his greatest contributions to the history of ideas in Japan was the reorganization of the historical classical canons and thereby trying to realize the discrimination between myth and historical facts. While working on the classics, Yamagata added at the same time his own thoughts and genuine texts in which he explicitly expresses his ideas.

While analyzing Yamagata’s different way of canonization within the structure of Yume no shiro and his methods of proofing his new positions, one fundamental aspect of my research is Yamagata’s usage of language. Since language cannot be the truth itself but can only represent and express the truth, it’s essential that both reader and author share the same background knowledge to understand the contained message of words and texts properly. But, as mentioned before, Yamagata refutes the background and connotations of many terms and provides new ones. Therefore, it is necessary to examine the implications of Yamagata’s reorganization of knowledge regarding his usage of language and terms.
Finally, the Kaitokudô-academy, where Yamagata studied, provided the environment where this way of thinking developed and yielded a great influence on Yamagata. Up to a certain degree his work constitutes the essence of the academies thought. How those two shaped each other will also be discussed within this project.

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