Richard M. Reitan Making a Moral Society Ethics..


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MAKING A
THIS INNOVATIVE STUDY
of ethics in Meiji
Japan (1868–1912) explores the intense
struggle to de ne a common morality for
the emerging nation-state. In the Social
Darwinist atmosphere of the time, the
Japanese state sought to quell uprisings and
overcome social disruptions so as to produce
national unity and defend its sovereignty
against Western encroachment. Morality
became a crucial means to attain these
aims. Moral prescriptions for reordering
the population came from all segments of
society, including Buddhist, Christian, and
Confucian apologists; literary  gures and
artists; advocates of natural rights; anarchists;
and women defending nontraditional gen-
der roles. Each envisioned a unity grounded
in its own moral perspective. It was in this
tumultuous atmosphere that the academic
832940
9000
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Richard Reitan
received his doctorate in history from the
Index
26, 50, 83; relocation of, 111–112;
and universal existence, 34–36,
38; and virtue of the human heart
(shintoku),
100–103; and Watsuji
Index
social order, xiv, 44, 163–164; and
dangerous thought, 150; and the
“good,” 22; and Imperial Rescript on
Education, 92; Kat Hiroyuki on, 41;
Nishi Amane on, 32; and religion,
73–74, 78–79; of Tokugawa regime,
See also
unity
Index
See also
Nakashima
Rikiz; self-realization; state-ism
person, conceptions of, 165; defined
Index
147–149; and representations of
dangerous thought, 129–130; as
state-sponsored project, 114, 115,
118; and struggle for meaning of
terms of moral discourse, 140–147;
and violence, 116, 117, 128, 151,
Index
shintoku,
See also
moral training
moral decline, 6, 13–14, 94, 98, 109,
moral ideal, xvi, 159, 199n.112; and
national morality, xv, 115–117,
121–125, 150–151; Takayama
Rinjir on, 89
morality
(dtoku):
as contested term,
143–144; public vs. private, 74–79.
See also
Index
Kawanabe Kysai, 8, 18;
The Civilizing of
Fud,
Kiguchi Kohei, 133–134
Index
See also
epistemology
of representation
ideal.
See
moral ideal
idealism, 49, 83, 116, 168n.4; British,
112; and national morality, 121;
and personalism, 87, 120; and
Ymeigaku, 104.
See also
Green, T.
identity-in-difference
(sabetsu-soku-
byd),
Imperial Rescript on Education, 92–97,
Index
Index
10–11, 13, 15; Motoda Eifu on, 14,
53, 66; Nakashima Rikiz on, 91;
ordinances and codes, 10, 11–12,
14, 15; and Teachers’ Colleges, 91,
126, 131, 132, 195n.40; of women,
See also
Imperial Rescript
on Education; moral training; moral
training textbooks
egoism, 97, 101, 124, 177n.46
emperor: divinity of, 142, 148–149; and
High Treason Incident, xii, 102,
125, 135–136; Kawakami Hajime
on, 145, 149; loyalty to, 52, 79, 118,
194n.8; and national morality, 118;
as national moral symbol, 116, 161;
and
tennsei
ideology, 168n.4
enlightenment, 9, 13–14, 17, 18, 19; and
Christianity, 70; and Romanticism,
82; as
satori,
108. See also
bunmeikaika;
civilization
epistemology of representation, 32–33,
54–56, 80, 82; defined, xiv, xv,
30–31; destabilization of, 81–82, 89,
103–104, 111; and
A New Theory of
Ethics,
38; and Nishimura Shigeki,
44; and religion, 57–58, 72, 80; and
rinrigaku,
54–55; and subject-object
opposition, 38, 48–49, 54–55, 72, 87,
88; vocabulary of, 44, 48.
See also
hylomorphic epistemology
Index
Hiromichi on, 72; Nishimura
Shigeki on, 44
Charter Oath, 12
China, 28, 77, 105, 192n.1; and Boxer
War, 98; and family system, 130;
Hegel on, 187n.9; and national
character, 82, 84, 86, 130, 156,
193n.4; and
rinri,
47; and Sino-
Japanese War, 99–100; and
wénmíng,
Christianity: Buddhist critique of,
Abe Jir, 146, 160
Admonition to Soldiers and Sailors, 4
alterity (otherness): Fredric Jameson on,
167n.3; and Hiratsuka Raich, 159;
and national morality, 125, 140, 151,
200n.112; of religion, 73, 74; and
violence, 116, 128, 151, 192n.3
anarchism, xiii, 102, 120, 153; as
contested term, 114, 142; as
dangerous thought, 115–116, 126,
128–129, 150–151; and “other”
moral communities, 151; and
Red Flag Incident, 128, 142; and
resistance to national morality,
See also
dangerous thought
ancestor worship: and Hozumi Yatsuka,
120, 194n.8; in moral training
textbooks, 132, 136; and national
morality, 118–119
Ancient Studies School.
See
Kogaku
Anesaki Masaharu, 141
Arahata Kanson, 128, 135, 143–144
Aristotle, 43, 44
Ashio copper mine, 128, 135, 195n.33,
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203
Nishibe Susumu,
Kokumin no dtoku
(Tokyo: Sankei shinbun nysu sbisu,
See ibid., 212, and Hamabayashi, ed.,
Tettei hihan: “Kokumin dtoku,”
See also Hamabayashi Masao, ed.,
Tettei hihan: “Kokumin dtoku”
(Tokyo:
tsuki shoten, 2001). Also see Kyoko Inoue,
Individual Dignity in Modern Japanese
Thought: The Evolution of the Concept of
Jinkaku
in Moral and Educational Discourse
(Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2001).

201

199
the people) in his article, but the term
sai
(to save) can be understood as
saimin
(sav
ing the people). The modern compound for economics
(keizai)
may also have been
formed from the first characters of the words
keisei saimin.
Kawakami Hajime, “Nihon dkutoku no kokkashugi,” 192.
Nishida,
Zen no kenky,
156. This translation is from Nishida,
An Inquiry into
the Good,
75. Nishida,
Zen no kenky,
159; Nishida,
An Inquiry into the Good,
76. Nishida,
Zen no kenky,
157–159; Nishida,
An Inquiry into the Good,
The phrase was
kokumin dtoku o hakai suru y na fukenzen na shis.
See Inoue

197
Arahata Kanson,
Yanaka mura metsub shi
(Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1999),
24. Also see Nimura Kazuo,
The Ashio Riot of 1907: A Social History of Mining in Japan,
trans. Terry Boardman and Andrew Gordon (Durham, N.C., and London: Duke Uni-
versity Press, 1997), 19-21.
Ibid. Concerning the government’s cruelty, see ibid., 172. See ibid., 124, regard-
ing government abuse. These translations appear in Crump,
The Origins of Socialist
Thought in Japan,
Akiyama Kiyoshi,
Nihon no hangyaku shis
(Tokyo: Buneisha, 1968), 33.
Crump also touches on this statement by Gud. For his alternative translation, see
Crump,
The Origins of Socialist Thought in Japan,
This and the preceding citations are from Katayama Sen, “Waga shakaishugi,”
Nihon shakai und shisshi,
vol. 5, ed. Kishimoto Eitar (Tokyo: Aoki shoten, 1968),
Ibid., 113.
See sugi Sakae, “Dtoku no sz,”
Kindai shis
1:5 (February 1913): 1.
Kawakami Hajime, “Nihon dkutoku no kokkashugi,” in
Kawakami Hajime
chosakush,
vol. 8 (Tokyo: Chikuma shob, 1964), 185–210, 192.
Natsume Soseki, “Bungei to dtoku,” in
Natsume Soseki zensh
, vol. 11 (Tokyo:
Iwanami shoten, 1985), 384. This translation is from Soseki,
Kokoro: A Novel, and
Selected Essays,
trans. Edwin McClellan (New York: Madison Books, 1992), 245.
Nakashima Rikiz,
Genkon no rinrigaku mondai
(Tokyo: Fukysha, 1901), 149.
Nakashima Rikiz and Shinoda Toshihide,
Shihan gakk y shshin kykasho
(Tokyo: Bungakusha, 1911), 107. Cited in Hirai, “Self-Realization and Common
Good,” 126.
Gail Lee Bernstein,
Japanese Marxist: A Portrait of Kawakami Hajime, 1879–1946
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990), 77 and passim.
Kawakami Hajime, “Nihon dkutoku no kokkashugi,” 189.
Ibid.
Clearly, the effectiveness of Kawakami’s argument relied on the essentializ-
ing effect of the discourse on national character. In other words, both Kawakami and
national morality theorists operated within this discourse on national character, but
their descriptions of Japan’s character were very different. Kawakami maintained that
state-ism was the “most prominent characteristic” of Japan, while individualism is the
key characteristic of all the nations of “the West.” But unlike national morality propo-
nents who treated national character as an inherent fixture based largely on unalterable
hall of Tokyo Imperial University (as part of a training course for middle school teach
ers) in July 1911. See the preface to Inoue’s
Outline of National Morality,
where he dis

195
Ibid., 638, 640.
Outline of National Morality, excerpt,” trans. Richard Reitan, in
From Japan’s Modernity:
A Reader.
Chicago: Center for East Asian Studies (Chicago: CEAS, 2002), 57–63.
Funayama Shinichi,
Nihon no kannen ronja
(Tokyo: Eihsha, 1956), 109.
See Fukasaku,
Kokumin dtoku ygi,
17–18; and Yoshida Kumaji’s “Commen-
tary” on Nishimura’s text in Nishimura,
Nihon dtoku ron
(Tokyo: Iwanami shoten,
1974), 120. Also see Nishimura, “Nihon dtoku ron,” in
Haku ssho,
See Hozumi Yatsuka,
Kemp teiy,
vol. 1 (Tokyo: Yhikaku, 1910). Hozumi’s
views on ancestor worship are discussed in Richard Minear,
Japanese Tradition and West-
ern Law
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970), 71–76. Hozumi provided
a circuitous line of reasoning that invoked the name of Amaterasu to legitimize loyalty

193
Dictionary (Tetsugaku jii),
translated
minzoku seishin
as
Volksgeist.
The German notion
of
Volksgeist
(i.e., spirit or genius of the
Volk
/folk/nation) was central to national char-
acter discourse of this time. In short, national morality was understood as an expression
Knowledge
(chi)
of course referred to “intuitive knowledge” of the human
heart. Thus
chik goitsu
implied a unity of the internal realm of the heart/mind and the
external realm of materiality, the body, and action.
Murakami Sensh, “Bukky muga ron,”
Tetsugaku zasshi
109 (March 10,
Ibid., 192. While Murakami conceded that there are certain theories of the
self within Buddhism, these he argued are quite different from “ordinary theories of
the self.”
Uchida Kanehira, “Hito to taikyoku,”
Ty tetsugaku

191
67.
Ibid. A decade and a half earlier, Nishimura Shigeki had already discussed the
crucial role of morality in warfare. This was a time, however, when utilitarian thought
still dominated moral discourse.

189
Ibid., 101.
Hirai Atsuko notes that Nakashima used Green’s
Prolegomena to Ethics
as a
classroom text. See Hirai, “Self-Realization and Common Good,” 108.

187
Percival Lowell,
The Soul of the Far East
(Boston and New York: Houghton, Mif-
flin and Company, 1888). For Lowell’s statement on the Orient’s lack of personality, see
202. Concerning the “march of mind,” see 195, and see 213 on imagination.
Nakashima Rikiz, “Mr. Percival Lowell’s Misconception of the Character of the
Japanese,”
New Englander and Yale Review
14:2, New Series (February 1889): 97–102.
Nakashima’s quoted passages below are from this text. Italics are Nakashima’s.
For Hegel’s use and definition of the term “personality,” see T.
Knox, trans.,
Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
(London: Oxford University Press, 1967), 37, §35. Hegel’s
assertions about the Orient in his
Philosophy of History
Sawa Wataru, ed.,
Uemura Masahisa to sono jidai,
vol. 3 (Tokyo: Kybunkan,
Kozaki Hiromichi,
Seiky shinron;
citation is from Takeda,
Ningenkan no
sokoku,
Kozaki stated that to maintain morality, “authority”
(ken-i)
and “the power to
reform the people”
(kankaryoku)
are necessary. See ibid., 80. Also see Kozaki,
Seiky
shinron,
For a thorough overview of this issue, see Notto R. Thelle,
Buddhism and
Christianity in Japan: From Conflict to Dialogue, 1854–1899
(Honolulu: University of
Hawai‘i Press, 1987).
Michel de Certeau,
The Practice of Everyday Life,
trans. Steven Rendall (Berke-
ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), xviii. The actual passage
reads, “Although they [the trajectories, i.e., that which is produced by the consumer
through his or her signifying practices] are composed with the vocabularies of estab-
lished languages
the trajectories trace out the ruses of other interests and desires that

185
See Frederick Copleston,
A History of Philosophy: Modern Philosophy, Bentham
to Russell,
vol. 8,
Part 1
(New York: Image Books, 1967), 133–134.
Inoue Enry,
Rinri tsron,
Nishimura,
Nihon dtoku ron,
Ibid., 20.
Although Hardacre maintains that Nishimura described Shinto as a Way
(d)
and thereby distinguished it from religion, various statements in
Nihon dtoku ron
sug
gest that he did indeed consider Shinto under the category
shky.
Nishimura described
both Shinto and Buddhism as “Ways”
(d).
He referred to both Christianity and Bud
dhism as religion
(shky)
and he treated Shinto, Christianity, and Buddhism alike, plac
ing all three under the same heading of
segaiky—
which in places he said was synony
mous with religion
(shky).
See Helen Hardacre,
Shinto and the State

183
Inoue Enry, “Bukky katsuron joron,” in
Inoue Enry sensh,
vol. 3, ed. Inoue
Enry Kinen Gakujutsu Senta (Tokyo: Ty Daigaku, 1987), 392.
Murakami Sensh,
Bukky dtoku shinron
not. Nevertheless, I have found it useful to discuss them as “groups,” each comprising
individuals who occupy a roughly common intellectual space. Some thinkers, of course,
cannot properly be confined to only one of these groups. Buddhist philosopher Inoue
Enry (discussed below) provides an excellent example of this.
2. I use the term “collective moral subjectivity” to refer to the moral space of each of
the “groups” under discussion (i.e.,
rinrigaku,
Christians, and Buddhists). This is a fluid

181
Ibid., 79. The “Englishman Smiles” was of course Samuel Smiles, whose work
Self-Help
was widely read in Japan during the 1870s and 1880s in its translated version.
Nishimura’s repeated emphasis on Japan’s reputation abroad reflects his concern with
the pursuit of civilization.
Ibid., 43, 45.
Ibid., 90.
Ibid., 92. This translation appears in Shively,
Nishimura Shigeki,
See Shively,
Nishimura Shigeki,
In his
Kygaku taishi,
Motoda asserted, “For morality, the study of Confucius
is the best guide.” See Monbush, ed.,
Gakusei hachi-j nen shi
(Tokyo: kurash Insa
tsukyoku, 1954), 715; Herbert Passin,
Society and Education in Japan
(New York: Teach-
ers College, Columbia University, 1965), 227.
Kaigo Tokiomi, ed.,
Nihon kykasho taikei, Kindai hen,
vol. 2,
Shshin II
(Tokyo: Kdansha, 1962), 683. This work provides concise overviews of the moral train-
ing textbooks issued by the Ministry of Education during the Meiji period. Nishimura
continued to call for the use of these Confucian classics in moral training texts. See
Nishimura,
Shshin kykasho no setsu,
esp. 537–538. For a discussion of Nishimura’s
Moral Teachings for Primary School
and the growing influence of developmental educa-
tion
(kaihatsushugi)
in the 1880s, see Mark E. Lincicome,
Principle, Praxis, and the Poli-
tics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan
(Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1995),
208–210 and passim.
Nishimura Shigeki, “Shgaku shshin-kun,” in
Nihon kykasho taikei, Kindai
hen,
The advance of medicine fosters a benevolent and humane sentiment. In regard to the

179
religion, is inappropriate as a foundation for Japan’s morality. First, while knowledge
Koyasu, “Kindai ‘rinri’ gainen no seiritsu,” 7.
The Japanese titles were
Kysha no kenri to dtoku hritsu no kankei,
1888;
Kysha no kenri no kys,
Dtoku hritsu no shimpo,
1894;
Dtoku hritsu shinka
no ri,
Shizen to rinri,
Kat Hiroyuki, “Kysha no kenri to dtoku hritsu no kankei,”
Tetsugaku
zasshi
2(21) (October 5, 1888): 522. Kat noted that because the needs among civilized

177
While the law and sciences departments had antecedents in the former
Fukuzawa Yukichi,
Gakumon no susume
(Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 2001),
12–13. This translation appears in Passin,
Society and Education in Japan,
Ibid., 13. Also see Wang Jia Hua,
Nihon no kindaika to jugaku
(Tokyo:
Nbunky, 1998), 147.
Tsuda Mamichi, “Kaika o susumuru hh o ronzu,”
Meiroku zasshi
3 (undated),
Meiroku zasshi,
vol. 1, ed. Yamamuro Shinichi (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1999), 117–118.
This translation is from Braisted,
Meiroku Zasshi,
Maruyama, “Fukuzawa ni okeru jitsugaku no tenkai,” 568; cited in Wang,
Nihon
no kindaika,
148. Also see Maruyama Masao,
Maruyama Masao sh,
vol. 3 (Tokyo: Iwa-
nami shoten, 1995), 113, 115.
As conceptions of
jitsugaku

175
Ibid., 277–78. Translation is from Havens,
Nishi Amane,
Nishi equated “reason” and “law of nature” with the French
raison
and
loi de
nature,
and with German and Dutch terms as well. He stated, “The meaning is the same
in each language.” See Nishi, “Shhaku sakki,” in
Nishi Amane Zensh,
Nishi Amane, “Jchi kankeiron,” in
Nishi Amane Zensh,
Nishi, as well as others at this time, actually used the term
dri
in a number of
different ways.
Dri
Albert Craig argues that, prior to Nishi, one can locate an implicit assertion of

173
Robert G. Henricks, trans.,
Lao-Tzu Te-Tao Ching
(New York: Ballantine
Books, 1989), 72. For another example, see Jien, “Gukansh,” in
Nihon koten bungaku
taikei,
vol. 86:
Gukansh,
ed. Okami Masao and Akamatsu Toshihide (Tokyo: Iwanami
shoten, 1967), passim.
Mantei ga, “Tsei rik musume,” in
Meiji bungaku zensh,
vol. 1:
Meiji kai-
kaki bungaku sh,
Discussing this kind of universalizing discourse, Judith Butler remarks,
“Although they often appear as transcultural or formal criteria by which existing cul-
tural conventions are to be judged, they are precisely cultural conventions.” See Judith
British Museum Press, 1993), 126. The editors of
Shinbun zasshi,
the journal Fud has

171
Fukuzawa,
Gakumon no susume,
Rekishigaku kenkykai, ed.,
Nihonshi shiry,
vol. 4,
Kindai
(Tokyo: Iwanami
shoten, 1997), 82.
Nishimura, “Shshin jikoku hi ni michi ron,” 4–7; Braisted,
Meiroku Zas
shi,
Ishii Rysuke, ed.,
Japanese Legislation in the Meiji Era,
trans. William J. Cham-
bliss (Tokyo: Pan-Pacific Press, 1958), 356–357.
Mori Arinori, “Saishron: 3,”
Meiroku zasshi
15 (August 1874), in
Meiroku
zasshi,
vol. 2, ed. Yamamuro Shinichi (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 2008), 53; Braisted,
Meiroku Zasshi,
Mori Arinori, “Saishron: 1,”
Meiroku zasshi
8 (May 1874), in
Meiroku zasshi,
vol. 1, ed. Yamamuro Shinichi (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1999), 278; Braisted,
Meiroku
Zasshi,
105. The “Outline of the New Criminal Law” of 1870 changed the status of con-
cubines, elevating them to the position of “a relative of the second degree” and thus
conferring upon them the same status as a wife.
See Nishimura Shigeki,
Nihon dtoku ron,
8; Motoyama Yukihiko, “Nishimura
Shigeki no kyiku shis,” in
Soritsu nijgo shnen kinen ronbun sh
(Kyoto: Kyoto Uni-
versity, 1954), 442.
Motoda Eifu, “Kygaku taishi,” in Passin,
Society and Education in Japan,
It Hirobumi, “Kyiku-gi,” in
Kyiku chokugo kampatsu kankei shiry-sh,
vol.
1, ed. Kokumin seishin bunka kenkyjo (Tokyo: 1940), 5–9; Passin,
Society and Educa-
tion in Japan,
Yamagata Aritomo, “Imperial Precepts to Soldiers and Sailors,” in
Sources of
Japanese Tradition,
21. Tsuda Mamichi, “Kaika o susumuru hh o ronzu,”
Meiroku zasshi
3 (undated),
Meiroku zasshi,
vol. 1, ed. Yamamuro Shinichi (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1999), 120;
Braisted,
Meiroku Zasshi,
At stake here was the need for Japan to improve its image in the eyes of the West
to further its diplomatic objectives. In the 1850s and 1860s, Japan had signed a number
of treaties with America, England, France, and other Western powers. They contained
extraterritoriality provisions (e.g., an American suspected of a crime in Japan would
be tried by American, not Japanese, courts) that the Western nations refused to revise
until Japan had a workable civil code and legislative structure in place. The persistence
of “barbaric customs” did nothing to change Japan’s uncivilized status in the eyes of the
West. Nishimura Shigeki, for example, a key contributor to moral discourse throughout
the Meiji period, was deeply concerned with “correcting customs and clarifying propri-

169
Shigeki: A Confucian View of Modernization,” in
Confucian Reponses to Modernization,
ed. Marius Jansen (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1959), 215.
Carol Gluck focuses on the political and social world of Meiji’s “articulate elite” and on
the emergence of “emperor system”
(tennsei)
Introduction
As opposed to my assertion that the good was a product (which suggests an ide-
ological construction), I use the terms “reveal,” “revelation,” and “revelatory” in regard
to early Meiji intellectuals’ presupposition that the good was somehow always present
awaiting discovery, that the good was revealed to the objective observer through empiri-
cal observation or the application of instrumental reason. I am suggesting that the faith
that Meiji “enlightenment intellectuals”
(keimsha)
had in the existence or presence of
pilogue
morality outlined above center on a “particular” morality of Japan rather than
the universal norms of civilization or humanity, they equally rely upon some
sense of the universal; they, too, suppress and exclude. Each form of national
morality (Inoue’s, Watsuji’s, Nishibe’s), despite their differences, sought to uni-
versalize a single homogeneous moral vision within the space of the nation,
thereby excluding alternative moral possibilities.
pilogue
pilogue
kk),
for example, which holds a prominent place in the Imperial Rescript,
is here upheld as a universal virtue containing a human truth that endures
“now as in the past, in Japan as throughout the world.” This statement thus
pilogue
Isao, describing a 2001 Kdkai symposium titled “Thinking about Home Edu-
cation,” called attention to the problems of discipline in the home during the
postwar period. Expressing a concern about moral decline similar to Ishihara’s,
he warned that under today’s conditions, there may be no “Japan of tomorrow”
for the young people of today. The symposium aimed to confront this issue by
contributing to the “nurturing of healthy youths.”
The Kdkai’s aims reflect a
commitment to the wide-scale dissemination of a national morality, expressed
here as the pursuit of an ideal to “rectify the minds of the people.” Moreover,
pilogue
In this passage, Watsuji suggests that the universal moral principles common to
all humanity can be manifested only within the particular
kokumin
or nation,
because such principles and the way they are implemented are subject to the
same historical and climatic conditions that shape the people of each nation.
Thus,
kokumin dtoku
for Watsuji was not the morality of the state; rather, it was
the particular manifestation of the universal morality of humanity
(ningen).
It was the creation of the Japanese people
(minzoku).
The formula expressed in
the above citation allows Watsuji to uphold Japanese moral particularism even
while grounding it in the authoritative universalism of humanity.
National morality continues to be a central feature of Japanese moral dis-
course in more recent years as well. Ishihara Shintar, elected as the governor
of Tokyo in 1999, in 2003, and again in 2007 and known outside Japan for his
provocative book
The Japan That Can Say No,
lamented Japan’s moral decline
in a short work titled “Japan’s Morality” (Nippon no dgi, 1974). “There is a
spiritual void,” he states, “at the core of the Japanese nation, a moral degenera-
pilogue
pilogue
one’s full development as a person. “This kind of women’s education,” Raich
insisted, “does not touch on those things that are of fundamental significance in
life. Consequently, as a form of education that in no way supplies the fertilizer
for the roots of personality, it is thus the greatest obstacle to the free develop-
ment of today’s women. I will therefore always maintain an unchanging spirit of
defiance toward it.”
Thus, as I have argued elsewhere, the concept of personal-
ity was reappropriated to provide the ontological basis both for contesting the
good wife/wise mother ideal and for upholding the alternative moral ideal of
the new woman.
As persons, Raich argued, women need “no longer tolerate silently and
meekly walking the path that the oppressed women of the past have walked.”
The new woman will walk her own path; she will create the paths that she
herself chooses to follow. For Raich, this required “the destruction of the old
morality and the old laws created for the convenience of men” so as to create a
“new kingdom” ordered by a “new morality.”
Precisely what this new moral-
ity was to be was never clearly explained, although it was clearly grounded
in a reworked version of personality.
pilogue
pilogue
pilogue
their depiction of this morality, linking it to Japan’s
kokutai
and unique char-
acteristics and differentiating it from the moralities of “the West” and China,
pilogue
pilogue
The Ethics of Humanism and Moral Particularism
Approaching the Moral Ideal
community produced various “other” moral communities (supporters of anar-
Conclusions:
The Dangers of the Moral Ideal
The conception of the good at the root of national morality discourse was a
product of its intellectual context. In his
Outline of National Morality,
Inoue
Approaching the Moral Ideal
that the emperor and the state were “of one body.”
The emperor, then, was the
the authority of national morality through lectures to the nation’s teachers,
scholarly articles, textbooks on moral training, and so on, others viewed this
so-called “people’s morality” of loyalty and filiality as anachronistic, false, and
devoid of authority.
Lecturing in 1911, Natsume Soseki discussed national morality, referring
to it as the “romantic morality” that was dominant prior to the Meiji Revolution
of 1868. This morality, he claimed, “has by and large passed away.” Linking the
progress of knowledge with the decline of this romantic morality’s credibility,
he asserted that “although romantic morality was seen to be true originally,
now
one cannot but think of it as lies. This is because [romantic morality]
Approaching the Moral Ideal
example in the education of Japan’s youth. From about 1890 moral training
textbooks began to use Sontoku as a moral example.
Sontoku’s emphasis on
frugality and hard work, the central values of the Home Ministry-issued Boshin
Edict of 1908, undoubtedly accorded well with the industrialization programs
of the Meiji government. In addition, Inoue sought to establish Sontoku’s
Eve
ning Talks
as the Japanese equivalent of the
Analects
of Confucius and the Gos-
pels of Christianity.
Here again, then, is the use of Sontoku to depict Japan’s
national character.
Finally, Christian Uchimura Kanz also made use of Ninomiya Sontoku.
During the Russo-Japanese War, Kanz wrote a biography of Sontoku, pub-
lished in English in 1908 as
Ninomiya Sontoku: A Peasant Saint.
Through this
work, intended for a Western audience, Kanz hoped to show the outside world
qualities of Japan aside from the “blind loyalty and bloody patriotism” with
which some Western journalists characterized Japan during its conflict with
Russia. The virtues of frugality and hard work that Sontoku upheld, according
to Kanz, were deeply rooted in “oriental thought and the spirit of the Japanese
nation.”
Approaching the Moral Ideal
dtoku).
Rather, it represented national morality in much the same way as
Na
tsume Soseki did, that is, as “morality created for the benefit of one certain
class alone.”
The “Way of humanity”
(jind),
though not as obviously central to moral
discourse as the term “morality,” was nevertheless similarly disputed. The
concept of
jind
was fundamental to national morality because it served as
the universal counterpart to Japan’s particular morality.
Jind
was the “moral
Way” of all humanity, while national morality was particular to the Japanese
people. But in national morality discourse, the two were in no way at odds
Approaching the Moral Ideal
by questioning the emperor’s divine status. Outraged by the government’s
response to the Red Flag Incident of 1908, Uchiyama in the same year pub-
lished and distributed an article calling for the abolition of the government and
the establishment of “a free country without an emperor.” Justifying this to his
readers, Uchiyama argued that such an act was not treasonous; rather, it was a
just and heroic act. It would abolish an exploitative and oppressive system most
had been tricked into accepting. The emperor, Uchiyama claimed, through the
medium of primary school teachers, had tricked the people into believing he
is the child of the gods.
Under Uchiyama’s reasoning, treason became hero-
ism and the divinity of the emperor became deception. This reconfiguration of
treason—describing defiance of the state as “heroic”—carried with it the impli-
cation that the loyalty to the state that proponents of national morality were
so concerned to instill ought to be replaced by a higher loyalty to the needs of
the destitute. In this sense, Uchiyama’s views clearly represented an obstacle to
national morality’s “approach” toward moral homogeneity.
Anarchism was another contested term. In 1908 Sakamoto Seima—among
those convicted in the High Treason Incident—attempted to reconfigure the
pejorative connotation of the term “anarchism”
(museifushugi)
by deflecting
some of its negative characterizations.
People say that anarchism is the poison that comes from the mouths of
traitors and that it is an extremely evil and dangerous doctrine. I do not
Approaching the Moral Ideal
identically worded, reflecting how mechanical national morality’s reliance on
this term had become.
Komatsubara Eitar, minister of education during the particularly repres-
sive second Katsura administration (1908–1911), sought to suppress “the
But these theories, Nishida maintained, fail to provide a basis to explain
why obedience is moral or why we must obey: “we cannot explain why we must
do the good.
We obey the authority figure simply because it is authoritative.”
Here, there is no standard for distinguishing good from evil. Our actions can-
not therefore be motivated by moral conviction; under authority theories of
morality, Nishida argued, our “moral motive” is “meaningless fear.” Moreover,
given that moral action is rendered as unthinking obedience, “morality and
knowledge are polar opposites, and the ignorant are the good.”
Finally, under such conditions, where moral inquiry and questioning are
Approaching the Moral Ideal
And while national morality proponents warned of the dangers of indi-
By 1911 Nakashima expressed this fear even more forcefully. “The theory
of social realization which
Green developed and which many scholars of our
country espouse today errs in regarding the individual merely as a machine
Approaching the Moral Ideal
to know courtesy—this is the foundation for the morality of socialism.”
On
who governed, even the emperor—were concerned not with the well being of
the people but only with their own further enrichment. Uchiyama was among
the anarchist activists executed in the High Treason Incident. His statement
was a critique not merely of the state, but of the broad intellectual space of state
legitimacy of which national morality was a part.
Sharing many of Uchiyama’s views, socialist Katayama Sen described the
Approaching the Moral Ideal
inasmuch as it was the moral vision of the state, could be attacked by calling
attention to the state’s disregard for the people. Although national morality
scholars emphasized the subject’s obligations to the state, the state itself was not
without certain moral obligations to its subjects. National morality’s justifica-
tion for its demands for loyalty to the state lay, in part, in the role the state played
Approaching the Moral Ideal
modern elements that thrived [in the moral training texts of previous years]
with reactionary Confucian and feudalistic elements.”
Such initiatives, how-
ever, were in fact quite modern in that they reflect the modern nation-state’s
efforts to create loyal subjects and to win consent for its rule by disseminating
Figure 4.
Kiguchi Kohei, a model of dutiful action. Illustration from
Primary School
Textbook for Moral Training (Jinj shgaku shshin sho,
Tokyo, 1918).
high-school instructors.
These lectures and the audiences to which they were
directed clearly reflect the state’s awareness of the importance of education in
the dissemination and legitimation of its own moral orientation. Such Minis-
try of Education–sponsored lectures were an effective means for disseminating
national morality, particularly as they exerted a kind of hierarchical control
over the education system through the indoctrination of both regular teachers
Approaching the Moral Ideal
independence. National morality, on the other hand, he described by way of
direct opposition to each of these characteristics of the West. It was group-cen-
tered, practical, concerned with the particular moral sensibilities of the Japa-
nese, and emphasized selflessness. In addition, he opposed Western morality’s
intellectual quality to Japan’s emotive nature. As an example, he stated, “[W]e
must view the theory of utilitarianism, which has been called a morality of cal-
culation, as an intellectual morality. And we must view our country’s morality
of loyalty and filiality as one of feeling.”
Within this national character discourse, the essentialization of the other
went hand in hand with the essentialization of the self. While national morality
scholars insisted upon a particular moral character of “the Japanese,” they were
constantly confronted by alternative moral positions within Japan that called
their claims into question. Only through the annihilation of these alternative
moralities could claims to universal status (within the localized space of Japan)
for a unique Japanese moral sensibility be fully verified. The spirit of the Japa-
nese people, the family system, and the values of the Japanese—each drew its
authority from the idea that they were unique attributes of Japan and common
to all Japanese. Contemporary narratives on Japanese culture often reassert and
sustain these same essentialized attributes. But it is worth noting that many of
the supposedly “timeless characteristics” of the Japanese and Japanese culture
naturalism in this way, Inoue and other proponents of national morality legiti
mized their suppression. Thus, the suppression of the “dangerous other” was of
Approaching the Moral Ideal
National Morality’s Strategies for
Self-Legitimation and Suppression
Proponents of national morality made use of a number of strategies intended
to shore up the authority of their own position while serving to de-legitimize
such thought, noting with approval that “those responsible for propagating
Approaching the Moral Ideal
thought. Like Inoue, the educator and materialist philosopher Kat Hiroyuki
feared socialism and communism. In 1912, just after the conclusion of the
High Treason Incident, he called them “extremely dangerous things” because,
of the Ministry of Education, was again lecturing on national morality, this
time to instructors in charge of moral training at Japan’s Teachers’ Colleges. At
the conclusion of the trial, twenty-four were sentenced to death. Twelve later
had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment, while the other twelve
were executed in January 1911. This came to be known as the High Treason
Incident.
That Inoue’s lectures on national morality so closely coincided with the
arrests, trial, and execution of these anarchist activists is suggestive of the close
Approaching the Moral Ideal
evil.”
unless this is the case. This, then, served as a basis for the subject’s loyal and
dutiful action on behalf of the state. To make sacrifices for the good of the
state, according to this national morality view, was precisely to perfect one’s
own personality.
National morality’s reconfiguration of personalism was most apparent
in its privileging of state good over the good of the individual (despite their
ostensible identification). Whereas personalism posited the state as merely a
means to the end of individual self-realization, national morality prioritized
Approaching the Moral Ideal
in fact qualified. Green argued that resistance should be conducted through
legal channels wherever possible. While admitting that problems arise when
legal recourse has little or no effect, he maintained that so long as the laws
fulfill the ideal of the state, their evasion is unjustified. “There can be no right
to disobey the law of the state,” he argued, “except in the interest of the state.”
In other words, disobedience to the state could be justified only as an attempt
to bring the state and its laws more into keeping with its ideal.
This provided
the individual with a role to play in deciding the good of the whole—if the state
was moving away from its ideal (as the individual understood it to be), the
individual was justified in opposing the state and its laws.
Here, the ambivalence of personalism is apparent. It had the potential to be
Approaching the Moral Ideal
individual. In the few works that address both, national morality and person-
alism are treated as two separate forms of moral inquiry.
But the conception
as Buddhism, Shinto, and Christianity. He asserted that the morality suitable
for Japan was one based not on religion but on the secular teachings of Confu-
cianism supplemented by Western philosophy. In this sense, the object of his
critique was not anarchism or individualism (as was the case with the national
morality of the 1910s), but rather the “otherworldly teachings” of Buddhism
and Christianity. As for Hozumi, his conceptions of loyalty, filiality, and patri-
otism were justified through an argument concerning “the great principle of
ancestor worship” in a way quite different from the philosophical foundation
created for national morality in the 1910s.
Thus,
kokumin dtoku
was by no
means a semantically transparent term signifying the same object and carry-
ing the same meaning regardless of the context within which it appeared. The
statements on national morality by Nishimura and Hozumi must be situated in
their own contexts, and the same is true for Inoue’s lectures in 1911.
Inoue’s 1911 discussion of national morality, published the following year
as
An Outline of National Morality,
did more than simply reiterate the elements
of loyalty, filiality, and so on, that had in some form been a part of moral dis-
course from the 1890s. It initiated a subtle but important reconfiguration of the
discourse on national morality. Inoue attempted to reground national morality
and its demand for loyal subjects through the construction of a new founda-
Approaching the Moral Ideal
1890 Imperial Rescript and 1911, Inoue’s 1912
Outline of National Morality
is
often viewed as the formative statement on national morality. Indeed, this work
morality of the
kokumin,
then, national morality was clearly a state-sponsored
morality demanding order and obedience from its subjects. Its concern was to
suppress “dangerous thought” and to cultivate dutiful action within Japan. But
national morality was nevertheless legitimized as a morality of the folk
(min-
zoku);
the values of loyalty and filiality, for example, were not represented (in
textbooks on moral training, in the Imperial Rescript on Education) as recent
Approaching the Moral Ideal
national morality nevertheless sought to “approach” the ideal through the uni-
versalization of the state-centered normative space it helped to produce and
through the annihilation of its other, “dangerous thought.” National morality
and its other, however, were inextricably bound to one another, each taking on
meaning in opposition to the other. The “loyalty” of the loyal subject took on
its significance precisely in opposition to dangerous thought, or, conversely,
dangerous thought was “dangerous” only inasmuch as it encouraged defiance
of (i.e., disloyalty to) the state and the moral position it sponsored. National
Approaching the Moral Ideal
National morality emerged as the dominant form of moral inquiry among
rinrigaku
academics in early twentieth-century Japan. During the decade that
followed the 1912 publication of
An Outline of National Morality (Kokumin
dtoku gairon)
5
National Morality, the State, and
“Dangerous Thought”
There are those, like the treasonous group that was punished this
year, who embrace dangerous thought
the kind of unhealthy
thought that opposes or destroys national morality.
[But] as
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
country is wrong in the rest; religion, customs, morals—there is no com-
mon agreement on any of these. Europe is discussed in a general way, and
this sounds splendid; the question remains, where in reality does what is
called “Europe” exist!
Okakura and others such as journalist Kuga Katsunan put forward this critique
of an essentialized Occident in order to argue for diversity and for the particu-
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
concept of
shintoku,
the virtue of the human heart, was equated with the moral
spirit of the Japanese people. Further, both Nakashima and Inoue developed
kokumin no seishin,
or
fki
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
the introduction to this work. Nor does the term appear in any of this work’s six
chapter headings, thirty-four section headings, or twenty-eight item listings.
Rather, Murakami understood
ingasetsu
(cause and effect, or the doctrine of
karma) to be the starting point for discussions of moral foundations. Thus, the
change in his view reflects the broader shift to a hylomorphic epistemology.
A similar monistic emphasis can be seen in the Confucian doctrine
epistemology that informed and enabled notions of hierarchical civilization.
In other words, in contrast to the epistemology of representation that underlay
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
quality adopted from the latter must also be adopted from the former, because
the same fundamental qualities existed in both systems, Japanese and Occiden-
his
Compendium of Japanese Ethics
project, gathered texts from all three Con-
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
Ogy Sorai (1666–1728), for example, was “attached to utilitarianism.” In addi-
tion, Inoue criticized Sorai for failing to adapt his “Chinese-style” thought to
Japan. “The Ancient Studies of Sorai most of all had a Chinese style,” Inoue
complained, “so much so that one may well ask where the Japanese features
were.” And while Inoue praised Yamaga Sok (1622–1685) as the most “Japani-
fied” of Kogaku thinkers because notions of
kokutai,
Shinto, and reverence for
the emperor figured prominently in his works, he too tended toward utilitari-
anism. Given Inoue’s overwhelmingly negative assessment of utilitarianism, the
Kogaku School did not provide the most suitable teachings for the cultivation
of
shintoku.
Despite the shortcomings Inoue saw in Shushigaku and Kogaku, however,
he by no means advocated the study of Ymeigaku to the exclusion of these
other two schools; these teachings had also contributed to the historical devel-
opment of Japan’s moral spirit. The Shushi School, for example, once introduced
to Japan from China, was transformed and “improved.” Inoue emphasized that
the dualism of Chinese Shushigaku could not possibly be the end point for
philosophy; oppositions had to be transcended to attain a new synthesis. Japa-
nese followers of this school gradually came to reject such dualisms, positing
instead a unity of principle and matter (
and
) reflecting a monistic view of
the universe. “There can be no doubt,” Inoue proclaimed, “that this was a sign
of philosophical progress.”
Inoue also depicted the Shushi School as “com-
to Shushigaku as well. This is clear from the way Inoue distinguished Shushi-
gaku from Ymeigaku.
In contrast to the government-sponsored educational style of Shushi-
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
school. He distinguished two types of Ymeigaku: one contemplative, the other
prone to action. While he condoned the former, he associated the latter form
with “politicians, economists, and social reformers” who, though they may
not have advocated utilitarianism, were “utilitarians all the same.”
Linking
this latter type of Ymeigaku (which included some of the more violent social
reformers such as shio Heihachir, Nakae Chmin, Ktoku Shsui, and
Okunomiya Kenshi) to utilitarianism, the form of Western thought that Inoue
most despised, was one of the ways in which he attempted to de-legitimize it.
Inoue also drew upon the Ymei School because it was, in his view, a teach-
afterwards attempt to implement them.”
Shintoku,
Inoue’s “universal” virtue of
the human heart, was the central concept in his effort to differentiate Oriental
and Occidental moralities. For its cultivation, Inoue advocated Ymeigaku.
But Ymei was closely associated with anti-establishment movements in
Japan’s recent past. In the wake of the Temp Famine of 1836, for example, shio
Heihachir, deeply motivated by the Ymei doctrine of the unity of knowledge
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
the purity of Oriental morality.”
In this one important statement, Inoue drew
upon the authority of the universal to authorize his conception of
shintoku
(a
virtue common to all humanity), he claimed this virtue for the Orient alone
wavering or perhaps now defunct conception of its own superiority and cen-
trality in the world.
In this reading, the power and violence of civilization
bring death to those, like China, unable to progress with the times. A decade
after the Sino-Japanese War, art critic and scholar Okakura Kakuz captured
this perspective with eloquent irony: “[The average Westerner] was wont to
regard Japan as barbarous while she indulged in the gentle arts of peace; he calls
her civilized since she began to commit wholesale slaughter on the Manchurian
Figure 3.
Civilization, violence, and power during the Sino-Japanese War. e char-
acters in the smoke read
bunmei
(civilization). is image was carried in Fukuzawa
Yukichi’s
Current Events News (Jiji shimp).
Untitled image, August 8, 1894.
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
For Inoue, the discipline, courage, and selfless conduct of Japan’s forces had to
be explained in terms of moral spirit. Any view that ignored spirit in its assess-
ment of the Japanese army’s valor he deemed “a superficial view of an inexperi-
enced and blind philistine.”
Fukuzawa Yukichi was perhaps one of the “philistines” that Inoue had in
mind. Fukuzawa, according to Inoue, rejected Chinese civilization and rejoiced
in the importation of Western civilization, pointing out that Japan’s victory in
its war with China (1894–1895) was possible because of the useful tools of civi-
lization. Confucianists demonstrated their “stupidity” most clearly, according
to Fukuzawa, in their disregard for the trends of the times. Their views were in
direct contradiction to the newly emerging civilization. Critical of this position,
Inoue stated that Japan did indeed draw upon modern weaponry and other
“tools of civilization” in its war with China, but China equally made use of such
tools. That Japan was victorious despite this was an indication that civilization’s
tools and weapons were not the decisive factor. Japan’s victory, Inoue insisted,
was the result of spirit. “Civilization’s tools are necessary, but most important
of all is the spirit to make use of them.”
Inoue’s and Fukuzawa’s debate over
civilization, spirit, and the Sino-Japanese War reflects a growing ambivalence
toward the concept of civilization itself.
An image carried in Fukuzawa’s current-events newspaper,
Jiji shimp,
during the first year of Japan’s war with China captured this ambivalence. (See
figure 3.) This image shows Japan (represented by a Japanese soldier in Western-
style military uniform), China (as a decrepit and dying literati, marked by the
Qing-style queue, an opium pipe, and fingernails that have grown long through
proclaimed that “happiness in life” is the aim of all philosophical and religious
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
justified. “Nationalism that does not look beyond the state,” he argued, “lacks
a solid and justifiable foundation.”
Of course, this kind of indiscriminate
concern for others was precisely the shortcoming Inoue saw in Christianity.
Universal concern for others was incommensurate with the special concern a
subject of the state was to have for the state and other
kokumin.
nishi’s moral
views, then, were clearly at odds with the Imperial Rescript on Education and
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
Imperial Rescript could never serve as a static universal, but only as testimony
to the timelessness of contingency.
nishi’s critique is powerfully subversive because it points to the contra-
diction in Inoue’s commentary and in the Imperial Rescript itself: the effort to
establish cultural particularity while claiming to transcend that particularity so
as to draw upon the authority of the universal. The Imperial Rescript, nishi
esteemed in any country, Inoue stated, and “they are not limited to our country
alone.”
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
subjects.” Not merely traditional, this teaching was an enduring and universal
truth, “infallible for all ages and true in all places.”
The Imperial Rescript, then, was not a text directed to the individual and
his or her capacity for rational moral judgment; rather, it spoke to the
kokumin,
the state subjects of Japan. The Imperial Rescript, moreover, employed a per-
formative strategy, proclaiming the virtues of the people so as to make them
same level of the West than with creating a particular “Oriental” or Japanese
morality. Still internalized in Nakashima’s thought, then, was the connection
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
responded to these labor disputes and to other forms of socially disruptive
activity with the enactment of the Public Peace Police Law (Chian keisatsu h)
in 1900. This law, which took the place of the Peace Regulations (Hoan jrei,
enacted in 1887 and repealed in 1898), enhanced police control over labor dis-
putes and strikes.
Nakashima attempted to convey the importance of social cooperation in
his textbooks for moral training. In his
New Moral Training Textbook for the
Teachers’ Colleges (Shihan gakk shshin shin kykasho),
Nakashima warned,
“Without a spirit of cooperation we will be unable to make progress in our
undertakings,” and social disorder will be the result.
He stressed the need to
cultivate self-respect
(jiko jinkaku no sonch),
without which one would be
unable to respect others, and equality
(byd)
of self and other, arguing that all
are equal inasmuch as all possess personality. Moreover, he discussed the value
and importance of each individual’s liberty, although he added that such liberty
made possible a critique of the truth-claims that were grounded in this epis-
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
using this work as a classroom text, passed along to his students the centrality
of “infinite spirit” for moral philosophy.
Like Nakashima, the moral thought of his students presupposed and
emphasized absolute spirit and the unity of self and other it enabled. In an
1894 study of Green’s epistemology, Nakajima Tokuz, who had studied with
“Concerning the British Neo-Kantian school” (Eikoku shin kanto gakuha ni
tsuite), serialized in 1892 and 1893.
The focus of this essay, and the inspiration
in the development in Nakashima’s moral views, was the philosophy of British
idealist Thomas Hill Green.
Central to the epistemology of personalism was the idea of “spiritual
principle.” Nakashima, following Green, described nature as a system of rela-
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
was “the obvious standard” for distinguishing good from evil,
utilitarianism
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
Indeed, Nakashima remained respectful of “civilization,” but his respect
had an edge to it. He acknowledged Japan’s “great debt to the United States” for
the “advancement in civilization” that resulted from Japan’s introduction to the
explained, “are only three different aspects of one and the same thing.” In other
words, “personality” implied a self-conscious awareness of one’s own individu-
ality, and this in the thought represented here by Lowell became a prerequisite
for civilization.
Resisting Civilizational
ierarchies
not even “universal reason,” could be applied to judge and rank a particular
Volk.
For Herder, even reason was historically and culturally contingent. Each
Volk,
therefore, had to be judged “from within.”
In short, Herder contested
the putatively universal discourse on civilization in late eighteenth- and early
Moral discourse, both within and outside academia, played a central role
in contesting civilization and articulating a desire for moral particularity. More-
4
The Ethics of Spirit and the Spirit of the People
Without infinite spirit, our own spirit would cease to be. Without
our own spirit, we could have no aim, and with no aim, there can
be no morality.
—Nakashima Rikiz,
On the British Neo-Kantian School,
With the flash of a sword and the roar of a gun, Japan’s army
demonstrated the pure and unparalleled posture of Japan’s
national moral spirit in a dazzling display before all the nations
of the world.
Japan’s national moral spirit is nothing other than
the universal virtue of the human heart, and such virtue of the
heart indeed reflects the purity of Oriental morality.
Rinrigaku
and Religion
Both
rinrigaku
scholars and Christian apologists, then, were deeply con-
cerned with issues of morality, religion, and interiority. But it would be inac-
curate to represent
rinrigaku
scholars alone as advocates of moral sameness
and Christian thinkers as champions of moral diversity.
Rinrigaku,
of course,
did seek the power to shape and dominate the interiority of the subjects of the
Uemura’s emphasis on duty to God rather than to the state and his desire
to establish a space of individual moral autonomy from which the state would
be excluded placed him in opposition to Inoue. For Inoue, Christianity was
Rinrigaku
and Religion
In his critique of Mill, Stephen maintained that the governing of a country
could never be separated from religion and morality. “Mr. Mill’s principle about
interiority, and had, according to Sakatani, the capacity to “unite the myriad
minds of men.”
In short, both Nishimura and Sakatani called for a prominent
state role in shaping the human interiority so as to attain social unity. This was
Rinrigaku
and Religion
the state? Responses to this question shaped moral discourse throughout the
Meiji period.
“Ethics are the foundation for ruling the country,” proclaimed Nishimura
conception of religion as the “irrational and useless” religion of 1880s Japan
and as a higher-order religion of the future allowed him to attack the former
while recommending the latter. “What I most abhor is to newly import from
a foreign country
a particular religion
like Christianity. But I do believe that a
type of
higher order religion
is necessary.”
Inoue’s “higher order religion” was a
kind of scientific morality that would take the place of Christianity, Buddhism,
and other institutionalized religions.
Educator Sugiura Jg (1855–1924) similarly foresaw the eventual dis-
placement of contemporary religion with
rigakush,
a term he translated as
“scientific morality.” Sugiura’s idea of scientific morality was part of an effort to
establish, “as a substitute for religion, a morality that did not conflict with the
rules of science or with the fruits of research as explained through science.”
Rinrigaku
and Religion
The Objectification of Religion
Religion’s “uselessness,” that is, the representation that it had a negative, or
at least no substantially beneficial, social effect, was in fact highly useful for
rinrigaku
scholars who sought to legitimize claims to their own social utility.
This, and the “irrational” nature of religion, provided
rinrigaku
scholars the
justification for excluding religion from moral discourse. But it soon became
apparent that religious belief and practice could not be eradicated from Japa-
But how did it come about that the external world possesses thought and
being
(dri)?
“If the universe consists of thought, then we reach the conclu-
sion that there must be a cause.” The cause, Kozaki maintained, is God. “The
reason science is possible is because the existence of God serves as a founda-
tion.”
It is possible to attain truthful knowledge only because of the existence
Rinrigaku
and Religion
characteristic of
rinrigaku
scholarship, putting forward instead a transcendent
notion of
ri.
While Inoue Enry was indeed concerned to defend Buddhism as con-
sistent with
dri,
Rinrigaku
and Religion
the superior knowledge and skills of the West, it was necessary not merely to
Rinrigaku
and Religion
action. More than this, belief in Christianity was to be condemned because it
led one away from “real virtue.” Christianity, Inoue claimed, cultivated belief in
“evil sayings and falsehoods, belief in ridiculous things; in the end it disrupts
Rinrigaku
and Religion
knowledge as the only legitimate basis for ethical inquiry, opposing the scientific
the emotional. His attempts to refute the idea of Buddhism as irrational only
further attest to the authority attached to the “rational.”
Dri
was also central to the moral theory of Nishimura Shigeki, a propo-
nent of “civilization and enlightenment” in the 1870s and a key participant in
the discourse on morality in the 1880s. But while he upheld
dri
over religious
faith in his works on morality, his conception of
dri
cannot simply be equated
with “reason.” Nishimura discussed the term
dri
as “the path of
” or “the
Rinrigaku
and Religion
originary good and evil in human nature
(seizenakuron)
it presented no fixed
standard for good and evil, it inappropriately mixed politics and morality, and
finally, it called for the imitation of an ancient morality and was thus not “for
ward looking.” These aspects of Confucian morality did not conform to the
“rules of logic,” and consequently its theories could not serve as a foundation
Western philosophy). This had the further effect of distancing his own moral
views from Christianity.
Murakami concluded his work on Buddhist morality with a list of moral
standards for adhering to “a general morality for all humanity.”
He presented
a moral framework consistent with then-current utilitarian moral categories of
altruistic and individualistic hedonism, asserting that moral standards should
be directed at benefit to oneself and to others.
He listed six “austerities” or
modes of conduct that were to serve as standards both for self-preservation
and for fulfilling one’s duties to others: charity
(fuse),
adherence to the Buddhist
injunctions
(jikai),
forbearance or resignation
(ninj),
abstinence or diligence
(shjin),
meditation
(zenj),
and wisdom
(chie).
It is telling that Murakami
equated this last austerity,
chie
(Sanskrit
prajña
), with the term
dri
and
explained
chie
as “the wisdom to choose to follow the good and avoid evil.”
For
rinrigaku
academics,
dri
usually referred to the human faculty of reason
Rinrigaku
and Religion
Not all Buddhists, however, connected karma and scientific laws as closely
as did Enry and Murakami. Zen Buddhist Shaku Sen (1859–1919), for
example, abbot of Engaku-ji in Kamakura as well as a student in his younger
days of Western learning under the direction of Fukuzawa Yukichi, struggled
Like Kat, Inoue’s primary critique of Christian knowledge concerned the doc-
trine of creation, as this directly contradicted the laws of cause and effect, and
evolution. “It is reasonable,” Inoue asserted, “that the condition of the universe
is such that there was a cause that gave rise to the beginning of the world. To
claim this is not so is the same as saying that for an effect there is no cause, and
this runs counter to the laws of science.”
“Evolution theorists,” Inoue stated,
“explain the impossibility of things coming into being all at once as asserted
in the Bible. With this, religionists
fear that, if the theory of evolution is
Rinrigaku
and Religion
Enry’s aim in
Outline of Ethics
was to establish an academic discipline
from the epistemology of representation discussed in the preceding chapter,
dominated early Meiji moral discourse. Few hoping to advance an authorita-
3
The Formation and Fluidity of Moral Subjectivity
Religion establishes a standard for good and evil
by the commands
of God,
whereas
rinrigaku
establishes a foundation for morality
with scientific principles.
—Inoue Enry,
An Outline of Ethics,
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
(written entirely in classical Japanese), they should first learn them by heart—
later in life their meaning would become clear.
The performativity of this
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
his discussion of character, if the people’s character is excellent, the coun-
try’s reputation will shine and it will be respected by other countries.
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
The Dissemination of
Rinrigaku
feels pleasurable emotionally. But “evil” is the opposite of this, namely,
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
ancient times, there have been none who have lectured on these fields. In
recent times, these fields have been for the first time taken from the West
and those engaged in the translation of works from these fields have each
selected ideographs
and have thus created translations. For this reason,
though the original language each translator translated from was identical,
the translators have differed and so consequently the translated terms are
not the same. For those who study these fields, it is as though they wander
blindly through a thick fog.
This dictionary, then, according to its compilers, was designed to facilitate
communication, to establish a “fixed vocabulary”
(ittei no jutsugo)
to assist
those involved in the study of these “advanced fields” newly taken from the
West. But establishing such a fixed vocabulary was certainly more than a mat-
ter of convenience. The terms selected (and omitted) for translation reflect a
certain normative predisposition. Moreover, this dictionary was a project for
the authorization of a vocabulary through which
rinrigaku
’s epistemology of
representation might be produced and sustained. Sociologist Pierre Bourdieu
speaks of the production of a “standard language” as a “struggle for symbolic
power in which what was at stake was the formation and re-formation of
mental structures. In short, it was not only a question of communicating but
of gaining recognition for a new language of authority, with its new political
vocabulary
and the representation of the social world which it conveys.” And
the dictionary, as Bourdieu points out, “is the exemplary result of this labour
of codification and normalization.”
The reformation of “mental structures” in
the case of 1880s Japan was a matter of establishing and legitimizing an episte-
mology of representation. The following terms assert the subject-object oppo-
sition characteristic of the epistemology of representation.
Chikakuryoku
(perceptive faculty): The capacity to know in one’s mind
things in the external world through impressions of the senses, that is, the
five sensory organs, is called the perceptive faculty.
Saigenryoku
(representative faculty): The mind does not merely perceive
things of the external world through its perceptive faculty; it has the capac-
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
legitimize) the moral thought of “oriental philosophy.” Moreover,
rinrigaku
continued to be epistemologically weighted even after Inoue equated it with
In addition, both Kat and Inoue relied upon evolution as a moral foun-
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
legitimize it. Key terms of this epistemology appeared of course in the various
writings by
rinrigaku
scholars, but they were also treated directly in dictionaries.
Philosophical and other specialized dictionaries of the 1880s reflect an effort to
codify key terms, to fix the meaning of the words and concepts that formed the
epistemological foundation for
rinrigaku
’s normative orientation. Central in
the codification of terms for
rinrigaku
adoption and integration of Western knowledge and Western forms of social
ordering must be approached critically. That Nishimura drew upon and recon-
figured Confucianism in his moral thought is not an indication of conserva-
tism. Moreover, though Nishimura drew upon Western philosophy and may
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
order, the abuse seems to be a little too excessive.” Here, he recognized the prob-
Nishimura Shigeki’s Morality for Japan
In 1886, Nishimura Shigeki, a student of Confucianism and Western
studies, a lecturer to the emperor, and a Ministry of Education official from
1873–1886, delivered an address at Tokyo University titled
On Japanese Moral-
ity (Nihon dtoku ron).
He explained in the preface to this work that the serious
study of morality, his long-time concern, was necessary to provide Japan with
moral direction. He believed that “through morality, the nation is established,”
and therefore hoped to “awaken the people’s moral spirit” and thereby “solidify
the foundation of the nation.”
In
On Japanese Morality,
Nishimura began by distinguishing two types of
moral teachings: those concerned with this world
(seky)
and those he called
“otherworldly”
(segaiky).
The former included Confucianism and Western
philosophy, the latter Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity, and other religions.
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
the “favorable” or “beneficial operation of survival of the fittest.” He explained
this by way of example: “When the virtuous superior wins, defeating the
ruthless inferior, the process may be called beneficial survival of the fittest;
when a ruthless superior is victorious, overwhelming a virtuous inferior, the
result may be called damaging survival of the fittest.”
But who decides what
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
But what did it mean to improve oneself? Obviously, this could be inter-
universe’s true form, because we can apprehend and verify a part of it as mani-
fested in the law of evolution.
Universal existence is, namely, the true form of the universe. People can
only see one part of this image. Consequently, it is not possible to know
the universe. If we were to take one wheel of a vehicle and show it to an
ordinary person and ask him what it is, certainly he would be unable to
answer. However, were we to show the entire vehicle, he would know. It
is the same with the universe. By seeing only one part of the universe,
certainly it is impossible to know what the universe is.
People can-
not know such things as their origin, their destiny, or how long they will
live.
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
Lewes,
Inoue called this mystery “universal existence”
(bany seiritsu)
or “the
true form of the universe”
(utch no hontai),
and he asserted that this was in
perish. This moral imperative, then, which calls upon each individual to strive
to realize his or her own ideal, is based upon evolution, an observable aspect of
the universe, and ultimately on the true form of the universe itself (or as Inoue
otherwise described it,
bany seiritsu,
or universal existence). Hence, as Inoue
stated in his preface, “the foundation of morality lies in the attainment of a level
of perfection by following the law of evolution.”
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
Further, Nishi described the three treasures as a “path for ordering the
world”
(yo ni shosuru no michi).
In a passage that clearly reflects this abiding
concern with social ordering, Nishi wrote,
If men truly honor the three treasures without any reservations, however,
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
nature apprehended through the application of instrumental reason, observa-
tion, verification, and evidence. I call these presuppositions about knowledge
an “epistemology of representation.”
to one guided by fact. The scholar of Tokugawa intellectual history Maruyama
Masao asserted a discontinuity in conceptions of
jitsugaku
during the Toku-
gawa period and in early Meiji. While Fukuzawa Yukichi’s writings on
jitsugaku
are generally understood as an assertion for the need of “practical learning,”
Maruyama claimed that “Fukuzawa’s truly revolutionary shift in
jitsugaku
did
not lie in the assertion of the need for a union of learning and everyday life, for
a practical usefulness of learning itself.” Rather, the shift “appears as a revolu-
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
Meiji “enlightenment” thinkers such as Fukuzawa Yukichi were calling for the
seen as a means to attain wealth and power, “truthful knowledge” became a
synonym for “practical studies”
(jitsugaku).
The intellectual position taken by
rinrigaku
scholars in the 1880s was
possible because of prior intellectual labor. The authority
rinrigaku
quickly
acquired for itself was rooted in an already available epistemology—one that
incorporated a reconfigured conception of
jitsugaku.
From the early part of
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
In this epistemological framework, the physical world was objectified. The
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
Nishi attacked this conception of
with Confucianism to an association with the “truthful knowledge” of the West.
We can begin to approach the emergence of this epistemology through a brief
genealogy of
and
jitsugaku,
terms that were of central intellectual importance
during both the Meiji and Tokugawa periods.
One of the most fundamental features of the epistemology that informed
rinrigaku
was the separation of fact and value. Although antecedent traces of
such views of knowledge can be located in the eighteenth and even in the late
pistemology of
Rinrigaku
2
Because behind and supporting
the understandable prestige
of the natural science model, stands an attachment to a certain
picture of the agent. This picture is deeply attractive to moderns,
both flattering and inspiring. It shows us as capable of achieving a
kind of disengagement from our world by objectifying it.
—Charles Taylor,
Human Agency and Language
Kyakkan
(object): things we know of as existing outside the body,
such as mountains, rivers, streams, oceans, grass, trees. There is
Civilization and Foolishness
strategy was to invoke foolishness to signify a space of “eccentric wisdom.”
Civilization and Foolishness
He turns to his neighbor, who is also eating beef, and speaks: Excuse me,
but beef is certainly a most delicious thing, isn’t it?
I wonder why we in
Japan haven’t eaten such a clean thing before.
We really should be grate-
ful that even people like ourselves can now eat beef, thanks to the fact that
Japan is steadily becoming a truly civilized country. Of course, there are
still some unenlightened boors who cling to their barbaric superstitions
[yaban no heish] and say that eating meat defiles one to such an extent
that one can no longer pray before Buddha and the gods. Those who hold
to such a view don’t understand the study of the true principles of things
[kyrigaku].
Savages [ebisu] like that should be made to read Fukuzawa’s
article on eating beef. In the West they’re free of superstitions. There, it’s the
custom to do everything scientifically.
Robun, by having his protagonist embrace the desire to “do everything scien-
tifically,” is calling into question this very desire. This text, then, is not sim-
ply an example of “the comic aspects of enlightenment,” as some maintain.
This satirical account of eating beef (formerly discouraged in Buddhist thought
as unclean, but here described as “such a clean thing”) exemplifies a possible
means of deflecting the universalization of civilized practice. The beefeater,
even as he spoke of “unenlightened boors,” “savages,” and “barbaric supersti-
tions,” was himself made to appear foolish. In this way, Robun brings civilized
But perhaps the most outspoken of civilization’s critics were writers of
gesaku,
a
literary genre understood as “lowbrow literature” by proponents of civilization
but as “the literature of play” by those who wrote and read it.
Writers of
gesaku
were criticized for their refusal to “participate in the
Enlightenment.”
Proponents of civilization disdained writers of this genre of
literature, a genre that still receives only marginal attention in present-day his-
tories and critiques of Japanese literature. One scholar of Meiji literature asserts,
“With rare exceptions, the later
gesaku
writers had nothing to say.”
Civilization and Foolishness
while Kongara, the attendant at left, warms a bottle of sake in the flames. Here,
as Japan enters the age of “civilization and enlightenment,” even Fud diligently
reads through his copy of
Shinbun zasshi,
the Ministry of Education’s weekly
journal offering instructions on how to become more civilized.
The humor in this image relies upon an inversion: Fud attains “enlight-
enment” not by adherence to Buddhist teachings but by abandoning the prin-
Figure 2.
Civilizing the
King of Immovable Wisdom
Fud My- kaika
a satirical critique of
civilization by Kawanabe
Kysai. Reprinted
with permission from
the Kawanabe Kysai
Memorial Museum,
Saitama Prefecture, Japan.
when ill, for example. Yet it was through satire that dissenters launched a more
subtle and subversive attack on the norms of civilization.
The Foolishness of Civilization
While Inoue’s
New Theory of Ethics
was squarely situated within the space of
civilization, texts (both written and visual) that sought to subvert notions of
civilization marked the boundaries of this space. Critics of civilization, for
example, found the above-mentioned effort to represent meat eating as a civi-
Civilization and Foolishness
nor meddle in politics, but with single heart fulfill your essential duty of loy
alty.”
He saw morality as a corrective to these social difficulties and criticized
excessive dependence on legalism. In 1879, as army chief of staff, Yamagata
commented on the obvious need for laws to preserve society, but lamented
that many seemed to have forgotten that a society was also maintained “with
morals and customs.”
Nishimura Shigeki agreed with Yamagata’s critique of
legalism. He noted that some viewed legalism as a unique discipline because
of its power to cure the great ills of society. Supporters of legalism argued that
civilization and enlightenment to be an admirable goal, he gave higher priority
to the establishment of a wealthy nation and a strong army. Striving for civiliza-
tion and enlightenment, he said, will have little meaning if we lose the indepen-
dence of our country.
“The Great Principles of Education” (Kygaku taishi, 1879), a document
ostensibly reflecting the thoughts of the emperor but in fact drafted by the
court official and Confucian scholar Motoda Eifu, called attention to the lack
of emphasis on moral training in the Education Code of 1872.
In recent days, people have been going to extremes. They take unto them-
selves a foreign civilization whose only values are fact-gathering and tech-
nique.
Civilization and Foolishness
minor contraventions. Major contraventions included “unsightly exhibitions
discourses on legalism and morality blended into one another. Civilizing the
people, after all, called for the suppression of foolishness, and legislation was
seen as an effective means to this end. Legalism helped to define the norms of
civilization through the various practices that it proscribed. In other words, the
discourse on legalism of the 1870s contributed to the production of the moral
space out of which
rinrigaku
emerged. Further, legislation, an outgrowth of
legal discourse, functioned (as did education and, later,
rinrigaku
) as a mecha-
nism for social control.
Civilization and Foolishness
In addition, such foolishness was to blame when the government resorted to
suppression. “Over foolish people,” stated Fukuzawa, apparently citing a West-
ern proverb, “there is harsh government. It is not that the government wishes
to be harsh; it is that foolish people bring harshness upon themselves. There-
fore, if we do not wish harsh government, we must see to it that the people are
educated.” Moreover, if the foolish overcame their foolishness through “earnest
study to acquire wide knowledge,” “the government,” Fukuzawa argued, “will
be able to rule more easily and the people will be able to accept its rule agree-
ably, each finding his place and all helping to preserve the peace of the nation.”
For Fukuzawa, then, knowledge acquisition rather than moral education was
the primary solution to the problem of foolishness.
In addition, much of Fukuzawa’s 1875
Outline of a Theory of Civilization
(Bunmei ron no gairyaku)
prioritizes knowledge over virtue. Arguing that with-
out the aid of intelligence, private virtue could not serve any purpose, Fukuzawa
asserted, “Ignorant morality is equivalent to no morality.”
To a certain extent,
he admitted, one individual can influence another to be virtuous. But morality,
according to Fukuzawa, is the activity of one person and “ultimately the sphere
in which moral encouragement can lead another to good is extremely limited.”
highly civilized” United States and countries of Europe. It was therefore neces
sary to reform the social practices of the foolish majority and to de-legitimize
their “groundless theories” so that the civilizing project could proceed.
Civilization and Foolishness
in Western clothing with top hat and cane and accompanied by a dog.
This
For many, the eating of meat (fowl and fish were considered outside this cat-
egory) was considered vile and unclean. Proponents of civilization, struggling
to change these views, proclaimed meat eating to be not merely nutritious, but
civilized as well.
Their efforts, however, were not always taken seriously. One
popular dish of the day called
kaika donburi
(civilized rice in a bowl; civilized
because the rice was topped with meat) probably says more about the satiri-
cal reception of civilization than about a serious linking of meat and civilized
conduct.
Figure 1.
e Stages of Civilization
by Kawanabe Kysai, a satirical representation of
civilizational progress. is illustration appeared in Kanagaki Robun’s
Journey on Foot
through the West
Seiy dch hizakurige,
1870). Reprinted with permission from the
Kawanabe Kysai Memorial Museum, Saitama Prefecture, Japan.
Civilization and Foolishness
Nishimura’s opinion that only through the cultivation of a common moral out-
look might Japan quell social disruptions and attain true social unity so as to
ensure the survival of the nation. A new moral authority was needed to fill the
Civilization and Foolishness
emphasizing obedience and loyalty to the state, represent the way state-issued
moral decrees were employed as a corrective to social disruptions.
Resistance to social changes among the lower classes also resulted in con-
flict. The abolition of the domainal system, the emancipation of the pariah
(eta)
class, tax increases, military conscription, and compulsory education all con-
tributed to unrest among the lower classes. During the first decade of the Meiji
period, over two hundred riots or other such disturbances occurred.
Moreover, debate concerning the future course for Japan’s political, legal,
one of its practitioners sought to represent it in the early 1880s. It describes a
Civilization and Foolishness
a desire for moral hegemony—for the universalization of one normative posi-
tion through the suppression of others in hopes of creating a common moral
space.
Inoue Tetsujir’s New Theory of Ethics
inquiry into the foundations and nature of “the good.” But the moral inquiry
associated with this discipline and the forms of thought and action it prescribed
were anything but value-neutral. Despite claims to objectivity, writers of early
rinrigaku
texts carefully produced moral foundations that would strengthen
their own value positions. During the first decades of the Meiji period, the dis-
1
Contextualizing Ethics in Early Meiji Japan
There is nothing in the world more miserable and hateful than the
blind stupidity of the people.
—Fukuzawa Yukichi,
An Encouragement of Learning
During the first decade of the Meiji period (1868–1912),
Japan was plagued by intense social turmoil. In the years immediately following
the 1868 revolution that toppled the Tokugawa regime, the new Meiji govern-
ment contended with riots, rebellions, and civil war, while perceptions of the
very real threat of colonization, posed by the growing presence of the West-
ern powers in East Asia, intensified with the introduction of Social Darwinist
xvi
Introduction
Introduction
this internalization of science and progress also transformed the moral space
Introduction
After an examination of the broad moral space of “civilization,” I turn
in the second chapter to the dominant moral theories of early Meiji and the
underlying epistemology that shaped and authorized them.
Rinrigaku
scholars
of the early 1880s defined “the good” in terms of state power and social order.
While they claimed to speak from a value-neutral position, a position from
Introduction
Introduction
(folk spirit)—conceptions originally associated with German Romanticism but
now powerfully impacting Japan’s intellectual landscape—
rinrigaku
scholars
now posited a unitary Japanese morality informed by a common folk spirit.
Japanese folk morality, according to its architects, demanded self-sacrifice and
Introduction
the cultivation of common moral sensibilities. At the same time, they provided
philosophical justification for the oftentimes violent suppression of socially
disruptive or “dangerous” thought and action that ran counter to the needs of
the state. Thus, these two goals—producing moral unity and suppressing dan-
Introduction
it most certainly is—then the question of how it is produced becomes crucially
important. This is a study of the process by which the good as a contingent
Ethics and the Universal
in Meiji Japan
For each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling
before it, is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim,
to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members
viii
Acknowledgments
critique. I am grateful to her for sharing with me the weight of this task and, so,
making it lighter.
Douglas Howland, Kevin Doak, and Harry Harootunian read through
vii
A work of this kind is never entirely one’s own; it draws upon
the suggestions and support of others. As this book took shape, many people
offered their expertise and assistance and I wish to express to them my grati-
Acknowledgments
vii
Introduction:
Ethics and the Universal in Meiji Japan
Civilization and Foolishness:
Contextualizing Ethics
in Early Meiji Japan
The Epistemology of
Rinrigaku
Rinrigaku
and Religion:
The Formation and Fluidity
of Moral Subjectivity
Resisting Civilizational Hierarchies:
The Ethics of
Spirit and the Spirit of the People
Approaching the Moral Ideal:
National Morality, the
State, and “Dangerous Thought”
Epilogue:
e Ethics of Humanism and Moral
© 2010 University of Hawai‘i Press
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Reitan, Richard M.
MAKING A
THIS INNOVATIVE STUDY
of ethics in Meiji
Japan (1868–1912) explores the intense
struggle to de ne a common morality for
the emerging nation-state. In the Social
Darwinist atmosphere of the time, the
Japanese state sought to quell uprisings and
overcome social disruptions so as to produce
national unity and defend its sovereignty
against Western encroachment. Morality
became a crucial means to attain these
aims. Moral prescriptions for reordering
the population came from all segments of
society, including Buddhist, Christian, and
Confucian apologists; literary  gures and
artists; advocates of natural rights; anarchists;
and women defending nontraditional gen-
der roles. Each envisioned a unity grounded
in its own moral perspective. It was in this
tumultuous atmosphere that the academic
832940
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