Minamoto Ryōen (1920-2020)

M. William Steele's picture

Obituary submitted by M. William Steele and Kojima Yasunori, International Christian University

steele@icu.ac.jp, kojima@icu.ac.jp


We are sad to report the passing of Minamoto Ryōen, a pioneer in the field of Japanese intellectual history, on September 10, 2020. Professor Minamoto was 100 years old. He was Professor Emeritus, Tohoku University and a member of the Japanese Academy. He was born in Kumamoto in 1920, the son of a Buddhist priest. He completed his graduate studies in the Department of Philosophy at Kyoto University and taught at Japan Women’s University, Tohoku University, and the International Christian University. He held visiting positions at Columbia University, the Beijing Center for Japanese Studies, and Oxford University. 


Professor Minamoto published extensively on Edo period thought, focusing on its practicality (jitsugaku) and on the interaction between Japanese Confucianism and Western philosophy. His works include Giri to ninjō (1962), Tokugawa shisō shōshi (1973), Tokugawa gōri shisō no keifu (1986), Kinsei shoki jitsugaku shisō no kenkyū (1980), Kata (1989), and Yokoi Shōnan (2013). 

He loved scholarship, and he loved to talk about it. Professor Minamoto was a committed teacher and gave his time freely to nurture young scholars, including both of us. Many in the broad academic community of Japanese studies will cherish their encounters with him. We can see Minamoto sensei even now, book in hand, urging us in these difficult times to keep reading, thinking, and publishing.   

Categories: Announcement, Obituary