Astronomy of the Afterlife: The Sandaikō Debate and the Establishment of a Kami Cosmology
AuthorWimpey, Nathaniel Hunter
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe Sandaikō debate was a controversy that occurred within the Kokugaku school of Japanese intellectual thought during the Edo period. Beginning with the publication of the Sandaikō by Hattori Nakatsune in 1796 and lasting for three decades without a clear victor, the debate itself centered on issues of methodology and succession within nativist studies. However, the content of the debate focused on the development of a cosmology rooted in mythology and the Japanese kami. While one group advocated for philological analysis of classical poetry, the opposing faction aimed to direct nativist studies towards the examination of ancient mythology to recover archaic knowledge. The conflict surrounding the Sandaikō exacerbated issues on leadership within the movement, as competing figures vied for principal positions. The primary outcomes of the debate would be the development of a new cosmology rooted in the power of the Japanese kami as creative forces within the cosmos. The text of the Sandaikō established a cosmology that took Japan as the center of a divinely created world. The cosmology presented here would then be expanded by Hirata Atsutane in his text the Tama no mihashira by elaborating on the role of humanity within this cosmological system, and humanity’s relationship with the kami. By examining these texts, this thesis aims to frame the Sandaikō debate as a watershed moment in the history of Edo period nativism for presenting a cosmology centered around the Japanese gods, and in competition with other systems originating outside of Japan.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
East Asian Studies