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The Jeweled Broom and the Dust of the World: Keichu, Motoori Norinaga, and Kokugaku in Early Modern Japan

01 Jan 2016-
TL;DR: Foulk and Joanne as mentioned in this paper studied the eighteenth-century kokugaku scholar Motoori Norinaga's (1730-1801) conceptions of language, and in doing so also reformulated the manner in which we understand early modern Japanese history.
Abstract: Author(s): Foulk, Emi Joanne | Advisor(s): Ooms, Herman | Abstract: This dissertation seeks to reconsider the eighteenth-century kokugaku scholar Motoori Norinaga’s (1730-1801) conceptions of language, and in doing so also reformulate the manner in which we understand early modern kokugaku and its role in Japanese history. Previous studies have interpreted kokugaku as a linguistically constituted communitarian movement that paved the way for the makings of Japanese national identity. My analysis demonstrates, however, that Norinaga--by far the most well-known kokugaku thinker--was more interested in pulling a fundamental ontology out from language than tying a politics of identity into it: grammatical codes, prosodic rhythms, and sounds and their attendant sensations were taken not as tools for interpersonal communication but as themselves visible and/or audible threads in the fabric of the cosmos. Norinaga’s work was thus undergirded by a positive understanding of language as ontologically grounded within the cosmos, a framework he borrowed implicitly from the seventeenth-century Shingon monk Keichū (1640-1701) and esoteric Buddhist (mikkyō) theories of language. Through philological investigation into ancient texts, both Norinaga and Keichū believed, the profane dust that clouded (sacred, cosmic) truth could be swept away, as if by a jeweled broom.The dissertation is divided into four chapters. The first chapter takes a historiographical look at the study of kokugaku and Norinaga’s central role therein. It also sets out the thesis that the remaining three chapters of the dissertation attempt to substantiate: that kokugaku, at least up to Norinaga’s time, ought to be considered as a form of philology, traditionally conceived. It was, in other words, an attempt to uncover cosmological truth from the language of ancient texts. In the second chapter, I present a genealogy of Norinaga’s kokugaku, tracing Norinaga’s thought back to Keichū. This chapter attempts to demonstrate that Keichū’s empirical methodology was a direct result of his esoteric Buddhist training and background and, indeed, was grounded firmly within an esoteric Buddhist doctrinal system. It then goes on to argue that Norinaga’s philology and positive valuation of language, too, is predicated on a Buddhological framework that stresses the immanence of the truth in the world known by ordinary people. The third and fourth chapters explore Norinaga’s conception of language and its role in the world, looking specifically at his studies of teniwoha and his much celebrated theory of mono no aware. In these final two chapters, I demonstrate that mono no aware and teniwoha lie at the foundation of both Norinaga’s epistemology and ontology, offering a means for knowing and apprehending the cosmos as well as a model for how that cosmos itself exists.

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UCLA Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Title
The Jeweled Broom and the Dust of the World: Keichū, Motoori Norinaga, and Kokugaku in
Early Modern Japan
Permalink
https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5nb4j9dd
Author
Foulk, Emi Joanne
Publication Date
2016
Peer reviewed|Thesis/dissertation
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University of California

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
Los Angeles
The Jeweled Broom and the Dust of the World:
Keichū, Motoori Norinaga, and Kokugaku in Early Modern Japan
A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the
requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy
in History
by
Emi Joanne Foulk
2016

© Copyright by
Emi Joanne Foulk
2016

ii
ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION
The Jeweled Broom and the Dust of the World:
Keichū, Motoori Norinaga, and Kokugaku in Early Modern Japan
by
Emi Joanne Foulk
Doctor of Philosophy in History
University of California, Los Angeles, 2016
Professor Herman Ooms, Chair
This dissertation seeks to reconsider the eighteenth-century kokugaku scholar
Motoori Norinaga’s (1730-1801) conceptions of language, and in doing so also
reformulate the manner in which we understand early modern kokugaku and its role in
Japanese history. Previous studies have interpreted kokugaku as a linguistically
constituted communitarian movement that paved the way for the makings of Japanese
national identity. My analysis demonstrates, however, that Norinaga!by far the most
well-known kokugaku thinker!was more interested in pulling a fundamental ontology
out from language than tying a politics of identity into it: grammatical codes, prosodic
rhythms, and sounds and their attendant sensations were taken not as tools for
interpersonal communication but as themselves visible and/or audible threads in the
fabric of the cosmos. Norinaga’s work was thus undergirded by a positive understanding

iii
of language as ontologically grounded within the cosmos, a framework he borrowed
implicitly from the seventeenth-century Shingon monk Keichū (1640-1701) and esoteric
Buddhist (mikkyō) theories of language. Through philological investigation into ancient
texts, both Norinaga and Keichū believed, the profane dust that clouded (sacred, cosmic)
truth could be swept away, as if by a jeweled broom.
The dissertation is divided into four chapters. The first chapter takes a
historiographical look at the study of kokugaku and Norinaga’s central role therein. It
also sets out the thesis that the remaining three chapters of the dissertation attempt to
substantiate: that kokugaku, at least up to Norinaga’s time, ought to be considered as a
form of philology, traditionally conceived. It was, in other words, an attempt to uncover
cosmological truth from the language of ancient texts. In the second chapter, I present a
genealogy of Norinaga’s kokugaku, tracing Norinaga’s thought back to Keichū. This
chapter attempts to demonstrate that Keichū’s empirical methodology was a direct result
of his esoteric Buddhist training and background and, indeed, was grounded firmly within
an esoteric Buddhist doctrinal system. It then goes on to argue that Norinaga’s philology
and positive valuation of language, too, is predicated on a Buddhological framework that
stresses the immanence of the truth in the world known by ordinary people. The third and
fourth chapters explore Norinaga’s conception of language and its role in the world,
looking specifically at his studies of teniwoha and his much celebrated theory of mono no
aware. In these final two chapters, I demonstrate that mono no aware and teniwoha lie at
the foundation of both Norinaga’s epistemology and ontology, offering a means for
knowing and apprehending the cosmos as well as a model for how that cosmos itself
exists.

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References
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism are discussed. And the history of European ideas: Vol. 21, No. 5, pp. 721-722.

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Abstract: 1 . Genealogy i s gray, meticulous, and patiently documentary . It operates on a field of entangled and confused parchments, on d ocuments that have been scratched over and recopied many times . O n this basis, it i s obvious that Paul Reel was wrong to follow the English tendency in describing the history of morality in terms of a linear development-in reducing its entire history and genesis to an exclusive concern for utility . He assumed that words had kept their meaning, that desires still pointed in a single direction, and that ideas retained their logic; and he ig­ nored the fact that the world of speech and desires has known invasions, struggles, plundering, disguises, ploys. From these elements, however, genealogy retrieves an indispensable re­ straint: it must record the singularity of events outside of any monotonous finality; it must seek them in the most unpromising places, in what we tend to feel is without history-in sentiments, love, conscience, instincts; it must be sensitive to their recur­ rence, not in order to trace the gradual curve of their evolution, but to isolate the different scenes where they engaged in dif­ ferent roles . Finally, genealogy must define even those in­ stances when they are absent, the moment when they remained unrealized (Plato, at Syracuse, did not become Mohammed) . Genealogy, consequently, requires patience and a knowl­ edge of details, and it depends on a vast accumulation of source

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