A World History of Political Thought
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A World History of Political Thought

J. Babb

A World History of Political Thought is an outstanding and innovative work with profound significance for the study of the history of political thought, providing a wide-ranging, detailed and global overview of political thought from 600 BC to the 21st century. Treating both western and non-western systems of political thought as equal and placing them as they should be; side by side.
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Chapter 9: Popular religious revolt and state building (1450–1670)

J. Babb


The centerpiece of this chapter is the Reformation in Western Europe, particularly the thought of Luther and Calvin, and intriguing similarities with Buddhist uprisings in Japan in a similar period. In Europe, the centralizing monarchies adopted contrasting compromises with the Catholic Church and the protestant sects, but, in Japan, the centralization of power led to the complete subordination of the Buddhist sects and the imposition of neo-Confucianism as an alternative system of thought more conducive to political order, as had been demonstrated throughout East Asia. It is in this context, that we can compare the work of Hobbes with that of Fujiwara Seika. Yet, in East Asia of the time, there was a new form of neo-Confucianism based on the thought of Wang Yang Ming. Wang Yang Ming thought has been referred to as the “Mad Chan” Confucianism because of the strong Chan (Zen) Buddhist influence on many of Wang’s followers in much of East Asia. In all these cases, the chiliastic influence in political thought is unmistakable as is the role of political authorities in either co-opting or suppressing these movements.

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