Professor dr. Chris Goto-Jones


  • single authored monographs

    Warrior Ethics in Japan: Bushidō as Intellectual History
    Christopher Goto-Jones
    forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, 2011
    Political Philosophy in Japan: Nishida, the Kyoto School, and Co-Prosperity
    Christopher Goto-Jones
    Routledge, Leiden Series in Modern East Asia, 2005

    Abstract: Political Philosophy in Japan focuses on the politics of Japan's pre-eminent philosophical school - the Kyoto School - and particularly that of its founder, Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945). Existing literature on Nishida is dismissive of there being serious political content in his work, and of the political stance of the wider school. Goto-Jones contends that, far from being apolitical, Nishida's philosophy was explicitly and intentionally political, and that a proper political reading of Nishida sheds new light on the controversies surrounding the alleged complicity of the Kyoto School in Japanese ultra-nationalism. This book offers a unique and potentially controversial view of the subject of Nishida and the Kyoto School.
    (This monograph was nominated for the Gladstone History Book Prize 2006)
    Modern Japan: A Very Short Introduction
    Christopher Goto-Jones
    Oxford University Press, 2009

    Abstract: Japan is arguably today's most successful industrial economy, combining almost unprecedented affluence with social stability and apparent harmony. Japanese goods and cultural products--from animated movies and computer games to cars, semiconductors, and management techniques--are consumed around the world. In many ways, Japan is an icon of the modern world, and yet it remains something of an enigma to many, who see it as a confusing montage of the alien and the familiar, the ancient and modern. This Very Short Introduction explodes the myths and explores the reality of modern Japan, offering a concise, engaging, and accessible look at the history, economy, politics, and culture of this fascinating nation. It examines what the term "modern" means to the Japanese, debunks the notion that Japan went through a period of total isolation from the world, and explores the continuity between pre- and post-war Japan.
  • edited volumes

    The Asiascape Collection v.1, Essays in the Exploration of CyberAsia
    Christopher Goto-Jones (ed.)
    Modern East Asia Research Centre (MEARC), Spring 2010
    About: The Asiascape Collection brings together the first 5 Occasional Paper Series as well as additional essays drawn from a special Asiascape issue of the newsletter of the International Institute for Asian Studies themed on CyberAsia.
    It can be downloaded as a PDF, or you can read it online via Issuu
    Re-Politicising the Kyoto School of Philosophy
    Christopher Goto-Jones (ed.)
    Routledge, Leiden Series in Modern East Asia, 2007
    Abstract: In Re-Politicising the Kyoto School as Philosophy Christopher Goto-Jones contends that existing approaches to the controversial Kyoto School fail to take it seriously as a school of philosophy, instead focussing on historical debates about the alleged complicity of the School's members with the imperialist regime in Japan.
    The essays in this book take a new approach to the subject, engaging substantially with the philosophical texts of members of the Kyoto School, and demonstrating that the school developed serious and sophisticated positions on many of the perennial questions that lie at the heart of political philosophy. These positions are innovative and fresh, and are of value to political philosophy today, as well as to intellectual historians of Japan. In particular, the book is structured around the various ways in which we might locate the Kyoto School in mainstream traditions of political thought, and the insights offered by the School about the core concepts in political philosophy. In this way the book re-politicises the Kyoto School.
    CyberAsia, special 50th anniversary issue of the IIAS Newsletter
    Christopher Goto-Jones (ed.)
    IIAS, Spring 2009
  • Selected Recent Publications

    (peer reviewed only)
    "When is Comparative Political Thought (not) Comparative? dialogues, (dis)continuities, creativity and radical difference in Heidegger and Nishida"
    in Michael Freeden & Andrew Vincent (eds), Comparative Conceptions of the Political
    Routledge, 2012
    "A Cosmos Beyond Space and Area Studies: towards comparative political thought as political thought"
    in boundary 2, 38:3 (Fall 2011), pp.87-118
    "Comparative Political Thought: Beyond the Non-Western"
    in Ethics and World Politics
    Duncan Bell (ed.)
    Oxford University Press, 2010
    "Alien Autopsy: The science fictional frontier of Asian Studies"
    in IIAS Newsletter, 50 (2009)
    "Más allá del arrepentimiento. La filosofía de la postguerra y el legado de la Segunda Guerra Mundial" (Beyond Repentance: Postwar Japanese Philosophy and the Legacy of WWII)
    in Revista de Occidente, 334 (2009)
    "Japanimation and the Ani-nation - Graphic revolution and politics in the twenty-first century"
    in Groniek: Historisch Tijdschrift, 181 (2009)
    "The Kyoto School"
    in Encyclopedia of Political Theory
    Mark Bevir (ed.)
    Sage, 2009
    "The Kyoto School and the History of Political Philosophy: Reconsidering the Methodological Dominance of the Cambridge School"
    in Re-Politicising the Kyoto School as Philosophy
    Christopher Goto-Jones (ed.)
    Routledge, Leiden Series in Modern East Asia, 2007
    "The Kyoto School, the Cambridge School, and the History of Political Philosophy in Wartime Japan"
    in Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique, 17:1, (2009)
    Abstract: As a discipline, the history of political thought itself has a history of competing methods: on the one hand, there are political theorists whose principle interest is in the use to which the ideas they find can be put—they seek to put the discoveries to work on instances of perennial problems in the present. On the other hand, there are those whose real interest is in trying to understand what the ideas meant at the time they were written—they seek to reconstruct the place of the ideas within a given historical context and how those ideas functioned to address political problems at that time. The temporal and intentional focus of these two approaches is so different that they might constitute different enterprises entirely.
    To the extent that historians of political thought are interested in history, the predominant method for analyzing the meaning and context of texts for the last few decades has been the so-called Cambridge School. It is the contention of this article that while the focus of the Cambridge School on the importance of contextual readings should open up the history of political thought to extra-European contexts, in fact its method serves to close down this possibility by emphasizing the importance of continuity between places in the past and the present of the historian. In other words, this method reduces to a process of narrating the historical identity of the Eurocentric discipline. Furthermore, I suggest that the work of the wartime Kyoto School contains methodological insights into the history of political thought that might overcome this problem and provide for a more inclusive (or at least a less exclusive) approach to the field.
    in The Palgrave Dictionary of Transnational History: From the Mid-19th Century to the Present Day
    Akira Iriye and Pierre-Yves Saunier (eds)
    Palgrave MacMillan, 2009
    "Transcending Boundaries: Nishida Kitarô, K’ang Yu-wei and the Politics of Unity"
    in Modern Asian Studies, 39:4, 793-816 (2005)
    Abstract: Boundaries were smashed and broken as modernity struck its first blows in Asia in the nineteenth century. The British and the French chipped away at the borders of China, and the USA ripped open the seal that enveloped Japan in sakoku. Imperialism, or neo-imperialism, represented a way of overcoming boundaries, of decreasing the salience of other territorial units. However, it was also a way of expanding boundaries, of projecting one's own territory and sustaining the priority of these new (modern) borders over the claims of (allegedly pre-modern) indigenous peoples. Boundaries themselves began to take on a distinctly modern persona–and they were the property of the modern, Western powers.
    "The Left Hand of Darkness: Forging a Political Left in Interwar Japan"
    in The Left in Japanese Politics: Essays in Honour of JAA Stockwin
    Rikki Kersten and David Williams (eds)
    RoutledgeCurzon, 2005
    "If the Past is a Different Country, are Different Countries in the Past? On the Place of the Non-European in the History of Philosophy"
    in Philosophy, 80, pp 29-51(2005)
    Abstract: It is often asserted that even our own past is a foreign country: the ideas of past thinkers are, in some ways, alien to us today. For the European historian of non-European philosophy, not only is the past held to be a different country, but it is also the past of a different country. This is both convenient and problematic all at once. The ‘Western’ historian of non-European philosophy faces a double separation from his/her subject matter; she is both a foreigner and an alien. In this paper, Goto-Jones approaches questions of how this historian should orientate herself towards her subject, and why she (and we) should care about it at all.

    This paper is a revised and expanded version of the Daiwa Foundation Prize Lecture On the Location of Japanese Philosophy: If the past is a different country, are different countries in the past?, Daiwa Foundation (London, October 2003).

    "Ethics and Politics in the Early Nishida: Reconsidering Zen no Kenkyū"
    in Philosophy East and West, 53:4 (2003)
    "From Japanese Philosophy to Philosophy in Japan"
    in Japan Forum, 15:2, 307-316 (2003)
    "Interman and the Inter" in "International Relations: Watsuji Tetsurô and the Ethics of the Inbetween"
    in Global Society, 17:2 (April 2003)
    "The State of the Art on Zen (and the Art of the State)"
    in Global Society, 16:3 (2002)
    "If not a Clash, then What? Huntington, Nishida, and the Politics of Civilizations"
    in International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 2:2 (2002)
    Abstract: The debate surrounding Samuel Huntington's influential Clash of Civilizations thesis has been focused too narrowly on the accuracy of his categorization of civilizations. This focus has left the problem of the alleged inter-civilizational order incompletely theorized. In particular, two theoretical issues have been overlooked: first, can we really assume that civilizations are capable of and prone to clashing as if they were states and, second, surely a theory of global civilizations must be subject to itself, as a product of one such civilization. This paper explores the model of the inter-civilizational order theorized outside the ‘West’, by Nishida Kitarō in interwar Japan. A comparison with Huntington's vision demonstrates some radical differences in these models and their consequences for the role of Japan in the so-called ‘new world order’ of the 21st century. The conclusion suggests a need to theorize inter-civilizational relations as seriously as inter-national relations, but on different philosophical foundations, since the two describe qualitatively different aspects of coincident world orders. In particular, this paper calls attention to the special practical importance of non-Western traditions of political thought in an inter-civilizational world.
    "Politicizing Travel and Climatizing Philosophy: Watsuji, Montesquieu, and the European Tour"
    in Japan Forum, 14:1, 41-62 (2002) – winner of the 2003 Daiwa Foundation Prize
    Abstract: This article seeks to locate the geo-social philosophies of Montesquieu and Watsuji Tetsurō within the distinct traditions of travel writing
    in Enlightenment Europe and early twentieth-century Japan. Both men exhibit common concerns for the nature of nation and nationalism, politicizing travel as a means of exploring Otherness. However, L’Esprit des Lois (1750) and Fūdo (1935) offer qualitatively distinct philosophical responses to the question of the relationship between climate and socio-political identity. While Montesquieu places humankind within an objective environment which acts upon the physical bodies of individuals, Watsuji suggests that the relationship between people and their climate is more essential: mankind exists in a climate, or not at all. It is suggested that these distinct philosophical systems reflect the environment within
    which they were conceived: philosophy does not merely describe climate, but is itself modeled by it. In the case of Watsuji, the interdependence of travel, climate, philosophy and politics is seen to have disastrous consequences in the context of Imperial Japan. Finally, the article asks some questions about the significance of politicizing travel and climatizing philosophy in today’s world of globalization and environmental change.
    "A Lost Tradition: Nishida Kitarô, Henri Bergson and Intuition in Political Philosophy"
    in Social Science Japan Journal, 5:1 (2003)
    Abstract: Mainstream political theory under-privileges intuitive approaches to philosophy because of a mistaken belief that such approaches are either intellectually inferior or inherently dangerous. In fact, a rigorous and sophisticated tradition of intuitive philosophy developed at the beginning of the twentieth century both in Japan and in Europe. To some extent, this tradition evolved as the result of increasing contact between European and Japanese thinkers during this period. Unfortunately, the co-option of this tradition by ultra-nationalist regimes in Japan and Germany during the 1930s and 1940s created a historical legacy that the concept of intuition has found hard to shake. In today's post-Cold War world, with growing international awareness of cultural and political difference, especially in Asia, there is both the space and the need for the reconsideration of alternatives to the universalizing rationalist paradigm that dominates Euro-American political theory. The intuitive tradition provides a fresh and compelling argument for cultural relativism in international politics and a parsimonious structure for critical theories of international relations.

curriculum vitae

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Nishida Kitarō (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

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.