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Translation And Conversion Beyond Western Modernity: Tolstoian Religion In Meiji Japan

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the translation of Tolstoi as a religious thinker and the ensuing conversions in the decade leading up to the Russo-Japanese War. It argues that Tolstoian religion uprooted some of dominant tropes of Western modernity. Konishi's translations of Tolstoi's thought signaled the emergence of a people's theology that could be understood and shared by everyone in the society. Konishi's translations of Tolstoi's religion to Meiji Japan had moved the Christian God from a higher transcendent rational Being beyond our reach to a spirit or &t;Way&t; that existed in all humans. The phenomenon of religious conversion is observed on two levels. On one level, a conversion of meaning was achieved when the term &t;modern religion&t; was changed to mean an anti-hierarchical religion inclusive of everyone, independent of the church, the state and Western modernity. The second conversion occurred as a nation-scale public response to that conversion of meaning.

Keywords: Konishi's translations; Meiji Japan; religious conversion; Russo-Japanese War; theology; Tolstoian religion; Western modernity



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