Friday, March 9, 2007

Pilling interviews Fujiwara

The FT's David Pilling writing in Lunch with the FT -- easily my favorite regular feature in the FT -- interviews Fujiwara Masahiko, mathematician, professor at Ochanomizu University, and author of the bestselling book The Dignity of the State.

As Pilling suggests, the book revives Nihonjinron arguments for a new, more uncertain age. As with most books of this type, emphasizing the uniqueness of the Japanese requires a bit of historical revisionism.

My favorite paragraph is this:
The model of liberal democracy that Japan inherited is flawed, Fujiwara says. As well as putting faith in unreliable masses – he prefers a cool-headed elite – it overemphasises rationality. “You really need something more. You might say that Christianity is one such thing. But for us Japanese, we don’t have a religion such as Christianity or Islam, so we need to have something else: deep emotion.”
Can anyone detect the glaring contradiction in his quote?

In any case, I don't doubt the importance of "deep emotion" -- all too often manifested as a kind of maudlin sentimentality -- to the Japanese, but arguably "deep emotion" has contributed to a number of catastrophes throughout Japanese history.

In any case, read the whole thing.

And for more on Fujiwara's book, Marxy of neomarxisme blogged his reading of Fujiwara's book last summer. (I can't find permalinks to the posts, so you'll have to search; they are, however, well worth reading.)

UPDATE: Links to Marxy's posts are in the comments section.


Lionel Dersot said...

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