Prof. dr. C. (Chris) Goto-Jones

  • Professor and Chair of Comparative Philosophy & Political Thought
  • Comparative philosophy
  • Asian philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Political thought

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2727
Faculty / Department: Honours Academy, HA Honours Classes
Office Address: WSD
Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number Flex

Fields of interest

  • Comparative philosophy
  • Asian philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Political thought


My main research interests revolve around questions of philosophy in a worldly context: what happens to the idea and practice of philosophy when it is dislocated from its conventional disciplinary roots in Europe?  Can we still talk about ‘philosophy’ when engaging with traditions of thought that lie outside the ‘Western’ narrative of the development of disciplinary philosophy and, if so, what does this mean for philosophy itself? How should philosophers engage with bodies of knowledge that reside outside conventional categories, in the non-European, in the non-textual or elsewhere?  To what extent is the language and methodology of ‘comparison’ helpful or valuable in this enterprise?

 In concrete terms, I’m interested in (modern) Japan and East Asia, with a particular focus on issues in the history of political and ethical thought. I am not only interested in utilising these fields as tools for the understanding of modern Japan itself, but I am also interested in the ways in which Japanese and Asian intellectual traditions can intersect, engage and enter into dialogue with the philosophical traditions of Europe and North America. In practice, this means that I attempt to locate my work simultaneously within both Asian Studies discourses and within more the conventional ‘disciplinary’ fields of philosophy and political theory.  The ultimate goal of this kind of work is the convergence of these types of study, in order to confront the spectre of ethnocentricity in the academy and society.

At present, I am working on a major 5-year ‘VICI’ project funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), entitled: Beyond Utopia: New Politics, the Politics of Knowledge, and the Science Fictional Field of Japan.  This project aims to explore the ways in which non-conventional spaces (the non-European and the non-textual – in this case Japan and digital/visual culture) can make creative and innovative contributions to political thought more widely.

In addition, I am completing a book project on the re-reading of the bushido tradition (the way of the warrior) as a contribution to philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Ongoing projects:
Beyond Utopia
Political Arts

Curriculum vitae

Prof.dr. Chris Goto-Jones was educated at Cambridge University (BA, MA), Keio University in Tokyo, and then Oxford University (MPhil, DPhil), where he wrote his dissertation on the political philosophy of Nishida Kitaro and the Kyoto School.  Since then, he has taught and lectured in leading centres around the world, becoming Chair Professor of Modern Japan Studies in Leiden in 2006, when he was one of the founders of the Modern East Asia Research Centre.  In 2009 he was appointed to the new chair in Comparative Philosophy & Political Thought, and he became the founding dean of Leiden University College The Hague – the university’s international honours college.  Chris is a professorial research associate at the Japan Research Centre, SOAS (London University) and the White Rose National Centre of Excellence (Leeds/Sheffield Universities).  His work has won a number of prizes and has been translated into several languages (including Chinese, Russian, Thai and Arabic).

Last Modified: 11-12-2015