Following the Way of the Ancient Kings: The Concept of “Learning” in the Teachings of Ogyū Sorai



Ogyū Sorai conceptualizes “learning” as the study of the way of the ancient kings. The way thus represents the rites, music, penal laws and administrative systems which the ancient kings established. Making faith in the sages the foundation of learning, Sorai designates the ancient kings as intermediaries between the ordering activity of heaven and human society. This article tries to examine some of the implications of such a conceptualization, both for the proposed system of social organization as well as for Sorai’s own project of elucidating the way.


Ogyū Sorai, Tokugawa Confucianism, learning, way of the ancient kings, sages

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