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Japan and the Enemies of Open Political Science (Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies)

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 000-0415111315
ISBN-10: 0415111315
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is an ambitious, controversial, ground-breaking and timely book...Its overrriding interest and importance, however, lies in its thesis, which is that the historical experience of Japan in the period since it embarked on 'modernization' illuminates, perhaps better than any other passage in modern history, the limitations and deformation of Western social theory.."
-John Gray, Jesus College, Oxford
"This is an intellectually powerful polemic in the tradition of Francis Fukuyama's "End of History, which is in fact one of William's several targets. His main target is the formalism and Eurocentrism of what most American universities call the social sciences.... This book will have great influence in the groves of academe but we recommend it to all who are interested in how our world is changing."
-Chalmers Johnson, Kiriyama Pacific Rim Foundation

About the Author

DAVID WILLIAMS is the Price Waterhouse Professor of International Business Taxation at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London.
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Product Details

  • Series: Nissan Institute/Routledge Japanese Studies
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (February 7, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415111315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415111317
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,541,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I have very mixed feelings about this book. It deserves three-and-a-half stars. On the one hand we have a fascinating polemic touching on all the essential realms of modern thought. On the other hand, we have a political indictment that suffers from an excess in name dropping and citation packing along with an untamed fascination with Edward Said.
At whatever measure, the book is provocative in a number of ways. It really only has to do with Japan on its periphery. In reality, it (fleetingly) touches on Japan's political uniqueness and its (slight) place in the history of thought in the grand scheme of an indictment of logical positivism/economic rationalism in the social sciences. At times an impassioned defense of the empirical method, and the 'changeableness' of truth; at other times the book takes on an almost 'ad hominem' tone towards rationalism to the detriment of the work as a whole. The book contributes, in my opinion, a valuable critique of the social sciences, and attempts to defend political science methodology from the positivism of political economy.
Williams ranges from Kant, to Marx, to Said, to Saussere, to Chomsky, to Nietzsche, to Mill, to Foucault, to Francis Ford Coppola, to Alan Bloom, to Dewey, etcetera, etcetera. He pulls off this journey at times, with interesting insight into the place of thought in social science disciplines. Other times, however, he becomes enmired in demonstrating how many different thinkers he can namedrop in a paragraph.
It could be a good book (maybe only as a reference) for an intermediate course in scientific method and/or the history of philosophy. It is almost a compendium of philosophical positions.
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