Masahiro Noguchi: Translational Gap of »Rights« in East Asia: A comparative study in the light of Max Weber

The concept of human rights is recognized as having universal value in the world, of course including almost all countries in East Asia. Nevertheless, we should not forget that the concept of (natural) rights is a Western and modern product. There was no exact Japanese equivalent for the English word »rights«. It was not until the 1860s that the Japanese word »kenri (権利)« was invented as a neologism. The idea of »rights« was so difficult to translate into Asian languages, that a translational gap emerged.

Masahiro Noguchi focuses on the translational gap of »rights«. His presentation begins with a passage from David Nelken: »the Japanese ideogram for the new concept of ›rights‹ came to settle on a sign associated with ›self interest‹ rather than morality.« Where does the bias come from? In the first part of his talk, Noguchi traces the process of how the European word »rights« was transplanted into Chinese and Japanese, referring to Georg Jellinek’s study on the religious origin of the concept of human rights.

In the second part, he compares two opposite views on how to evaluate the cultural gap. Whereas Takeyoshi Kawashima, a legal sociologist of postwar Japan, interprets the cultural bias as an obstacle to modernization, Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore discusses »Asian Values« affirmatively. Noguchi attempts to articulate a constellation of discourses on the translational gap of »rights« in East Asia by critically describing these two intellectuals. He will discuss the communitarian critique of »rights talk,« »legal orientalism,« Confucianism as »invented tradition,« and Sino-centricism upheld by postmodern discourses of anti-Eurocentricism.

This research is a legal-political study of cultural translation. At the same time, it is study of Max Weber. Noguchi refers to Weber frequently because it is his comparative sociological theory of religion that considers cultural diversity and translational gaps regarding western modernity.

Curriculum Vitae

Nach dem Studium der Politikwissenschaft an der Universität Waseda in Tokyo studierte Masahiro Noguchi von 1998 bis 2003 Soziologie, Politische Wissenschaft und Philosophie an der Universität Bonn, wo er mit einer grundlegenden Arbeit zum Werk Max Webers, nämlich zum Thema »Kampf und Kultur: Max Webers Theorie der Politik aus der Sicht seiner Kultursoziologie«, promovierte. Nach seiner Rückkehr nach Japan lehrte er an der Universität Rikkyo, an der Universität Meiji Gakuin, an der Universität Yokohama-Kokuritsu und an der Universität Waseda. Ab 2008 war Masahiro Noguchi als Associate Professor für Politische Wissenschaft an der Universität Gifu tätig. 2010 folgte die Ernennung zum Associate Professor für Politische Theorie an der juristischen Fakultät der Universität Ritsumeikan in Kyoto, bevor er dort im April 2013 zum ordentlichen Professor für Politische Theorie berufen wurde. Seit April 2013 ist Professor Noguchi Fellow am Käte Hamburger Kolleg »Recht als Kultur«.

Publikationen (Auswahl)

  • Kampf und Kultur: Max Webers Theorie der Politik aus der Sicht seiner Kultursoziologie, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot 2005 (jp.: Tōsō to Bunka. Makkusu Uēbā niokeru Bunka-Shyakaigaku to Seiji-Riron, Tokyo: Misuzu Verlag 2006).
  • Universalgeschichtliche Probleme in der japanischen Weber-Diskussion, in: Karl-Ludwig Ay, Knut Borchardt (Hrsg.): Das Faszinosum Max Weber: die Geschichte seiner Geltung, München: UVK 2006.
  • Kanryōsei-Hihan no Ronri to Shinri. Demokurashi no Tomo to Teki (Logik und Psychologie der Bürokratiekritik. Freund und Feind der Demokratie), Tokyo: Chuokoronshinshya 2011.
  • Hikaku no Eitosu. Reisen no Shyuen igono Makkusu Uēbā (Ethos des Vergleiches. Max Webers politische Theorie nach dem Ende des Kalten Krieges), Tokyo: Hōsei UP 2011.
  • Makkusu Uēbā no Nihon, Tokyo: Misuzu Verlag, 2013 (japanische Übersetzung des Buches: Wolfgang Schwentker: Max Weber in Japan: Eine Untersuchung zur Wirkungsgeschichte 1905-1995, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 1995).

Datum: 11.02.2014
Ort: Kameha Grand Bonn (Saal Kameha Spirit)
Uhrzeit: 18:00 Uhr


Max Weber Stiftung

The Max Weber Foundation promotes global research, concentrated around the areas of social sciences, cultural studies and the humanities. Research is conducted at ten institutes in various countries across the globe with distinctive and independent focal points. Through its globally operating institutes, the Foundation is able to contribute to the communication and networking between Germany and the host countries or regions of its establishments. By promoting scientific dialogue and merging academic as well as non-academic employees from several countries with different cultural backgrounds, the Max Weber Foundation is able to strengthen the Internationalization of research in its three fields of dedication.

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Über Max Weber Stiftung

The Max Weber Foundation promotes global research, concentrated around the areas of social sciences, cultural studies and the humanities. Research is conducted at ten institutes in various countries across the globe with distinctive and independent focal points. Through its globally operating institutes, the Foundation is able to contribute to the communication and networking between Germany and the host countries or regions of its establishments. By promoting scientific dialogue and merging academic as well as non-academic employees from several countries with different cultural backgrounds, the Max Weber Foundation is able to strengthen the Internationalization of research in its three fields of dedication.

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