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In Session: The Kyoto School and Ethics of the Contemporary World: Science, World History, and Religion
2: Koyama Iwao on Neutrality and the Cold War: The Philosophy of World History in Postwar Japan
Friday, March 26, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
Chukyo University, Japan
During the Asia-Pacific War, the Kyoto philosophers, such as Koyama Iwao, advocated “world-historical standpoint” that aimed at overcoming western modernity, justifying the total war of imperial Japan. After Japan’s defeat, however, Koyama revised his “philosophy of world history,” admitting that their discussions had been misguided by “excessive subjectivity.” He thus proposed a postwar version of his philosophy through a new “principle of correspondence” characterized by the mutual relationship between subjectivity and objectivity.
Siding with pro-American conservatives, Koyama engaged in historical-philosophical observations concerning international politics and ideological conflicts under the Cold War. In particular, he discussed the historical and geopolitical conditions of neutrality as a response to the 1950 controversy on the San Francisco peace treaty. As is well known, a number of social scientists, most notably Maruyama Masao, proposed total peace and unarmed neutrality as opposed to partial peace with the western countries as well as the continued presence of American troops in Japan. While rejecting unarmed neutrality from a realist point of view, Koyama argued that neutrality under the global Cold War was becoming extremely difficult, but not entirely impossible. Significantly enough, both Koyama and the progressive intellectuals like Maruyama shared certain views about the current situation, including the emergence of nuclear weapons as a deterrent to war as well as the convergence between liberalist and communist regimes despite their ideological opposition. In this presentation, I will situate Koyama’s postwar philosophy of world history in the context of the Cold War debate in the 1950s.