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Taoka Reiun (1870-1912) and the Turn Against the Modern
Start Date: 2/12/2016Start Time: 3:00 PM
End Date: 2/12/2016End Time: 4:00 PM

Event Description
Professor Ron Loftus, Professor of Japanese Language and East Asian History, will speak about his recent research.
During my Spring 2015 sabbatical, I completed a book-length manuscript on Taoka Reiun (1870-1912), a literary and social critic who was active from the early 1890s until his early death in 1912. A maverick, Reiun urged his readers to question the entire meaning of bunmei, or “civilization,” as a trajectory for modern Japan. A student in Chinese Studies at the university, he found himself drawn to ancient Indian and Chinese thought: the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Daodejing, the Yijing, and the essays of Zhuangzi, as well as the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. He was also taken with contemporary critics like Fabian Socialist Edward Carpenter and German physician Max Nordau. Bunmei-kaika, or “civilization and enlightenment,” was embraced by most Japanese as the best pathway to becoming modern; but Reiun questioned whether it had delivered on its promises. He saw the whole notion of modernity as the triumph of a utilitarian, materialistic, instrumentalist view of the world and he did not trust it. Reiun feared that the “objective” or “scientific” view of reality, was too narrow and superficial. He wanted something more: a truer, deeper portrayal of the human experience. By challenging the assumptions of modernity itself, Reiun was taking an intriguing and bold stance that I will explore in presentation.
Location Information:
*WU Campus - Hatfield Library  (View Map)
900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301
Phone: 503-370-6300
Room: Hatfield Room
Contact Information:
Name: Doreen Simonsen
Phone: 503 375-5343
Email: dsimonse@willamette.edu
Ron Loftus
Admission / Ticket Info:
Free Admission and open to the public
Event Sponsor(s):
Faculty Colloquium

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