Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Global Encounters in Japanese Social Thought During the Meiji Era

Smith Jeremy C.

Postwar approaches to Japan’s modern era have functioned within a metanarrative of modernization. Contemporary comparative analysis approaches Japan from the vantage point of civilisational sociology and a paradigm of multiple modernities. The development of sociological thought itself in Japan could also be interpreted through this framework, although there has been little research to date along these lines. This paper explores how Japanese social thought coalesced in global encounters in the 1870s and 1880s. It analyses the radical reinterpretation of classical Western sociology in the reception of Comte, Mill and Spencer by Japan’s scholars and modernisers in the nascent public spheres of Meiji society. Special attention is paid to the philosophy of Nishi Amane.


Smith Jeremy C  (Australia)
Lecturer in Sociology
School of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Humanities
University of Ballarat

Jeremy Smith researches in social theory and historical sociology with an interest in the Americas and Japan. He is a co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal 'Critical Horizons'

  • Global
  • Social thought
  • Japan
  • Modernity
Person as Subject
  • Nishi, Amane

(Virtual Presentation, English)