Professor dr. Chris Goto-Jones

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Chris Goto-Jones
Professor of Comparative Philosophy and Political Thought
Institute for Philosophy, Leiden University

Director ''
Project director & principle researcher '
Beyond Utopia' project
Co-Founder '
the Political and Philosophical Arts Initiative'

research interests

Chris Goto-Jones's main research interests revolve around questions of philosophy in Modern Japan, with a particular focus on issues in the history of political and ethical thought. He is not only interested in utilising these fields as tools for the understanding of Modern Japan itself, but he is also interested in the ways in which Japanese intellectual traditions can intersect, engage and enter into dialogue with Euro-American traditions of thought. In practice, this means that he attempts to locate his work simultaneously within both Asian Studies discourses and within more mainstream ‘disciplinary’ fields. The ultimate goal, of course, must be the convergence of these types of study, in order to confront the spectre of ethnocentricity.

A key problem in the phrasing of Goto-Jones's research is the question of what it means to study Modern Japan. In his work, he interprets this complex compound in a constellation of ways: firstly, his ‘Japan’ is concerned with the ideas and institutions produced and inhabited by the Japanese people; secondly, ‘modern’ has temporal implications, relating to a historical period that commences (approximately) with the Bakamatsu period (ie. mid-nineteenth century); and thirdly, ‘modern’ has methodological implications, relating to the need for modern scholarship in so-called ‘Area Studies’ to engage seriously with the rigorous demands of the mainstream academic disciplines.

current projects

curriculum vitae

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Nishida KitarĊ (1870-1945), founder of the Kyoto School of Philosophy, is the focal point in many of Chris Goto-Jones's publications, including his University of Oxford PhD thesis Ideas at War: Nishida Kitarô and the Philosophical Context of the Co-Prosperity Sphere

chris' publications

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"A wonderfully engaging narrative of a complicated history, which from the beginning to end sheds light on the meaning of modernity in Japan as it changed over time. An exemplary text." - Carol Gluck, Columbia University

"With remarkable clarity and breadth of coverage, Goto-Jones introduces the major topics and themes of the modern history of Japan, giving particularly thoughtful attention to the complex and tortured efforts of figures seeking to define and defend a properly Japanese modernity, and those striving to come to grips with the trauma and shadow of World War II." - Andrew Gordon, Harvard University