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Economic Thought Concerning Freedom And Control

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Chapter Summary

The aim of this chapter is to develop a hypothetical framework for understanding the economic consciousness of people in early modern Japan. The Toyotomi and Tokugawa government policy of the separation of warriors and peasants formed the basis of early modern society. In early modern Japan the broad social divisions of warriors(bushi), peasants (hyakushō), artisans(shokunin) and merchants (shōnin) encompassed most of society. Each component of these divisions of labor depended on the others and was unable to function without the others. Confucian and Buddhist thought came to reflect this interdependent social pattern. Sokōs concern with warrior self-awareness reflected mid-seventeenth century social reality that necessitated a reassessment of their social function. Both the actual economic conditions and Confucian theory legitimized the work of commoners and weakened the potential for mutual confrontation. Freedom coexisted with control, and productivity increased over time under such conditions.

Keywords: Buddhist; Confucian; control; freedom; hyakushō; shōnin; Sokō; Tokugawa



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