As an academic person, I have always assumed that I will one day pursue a PhD. I fell into my undergraduate and I stumbled into my Master’s, so it just seemed natural I’d slip into a PhD at some point in my life.
So sitting at a hotel bar in Chamonix at the conclusion of my Master’s year, enjoying a trip with my dad to the French Alps, I started composing the beginnings of a PhD thesis. The bartender was loose with the tequila and the ideas were flowing. I soon crafted the outlines to explore how Western philosophy has attempted to capture the paradoxical phenomenon of freedom in modern, bourgeois society. I thought I had diagnosed a key transition from Rousseau to Hegel, where freedom as an individual was only ever temporarily surrendered for the former (i.e. in moments of great revolution or when dealing with people who absolutely intransigent), whereas freedom for Hegel was only to be found in the most developed form of society, the German state of his day, and required the surrendering of previous notions to fully embrace the present. Continue reading “From Brighton through Bangalore to Nagasaki: why Japanese Imperialism?”