DEVELOPMENT OF PHILOSOPHY
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The Development of Philosophy
S- in Japan
PRESENTED TO THE
FACULTY OF PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
IN CANDIDACY .FOR THE DEGREE
OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
STSUPNES O tSHIAMH i
SPRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
SLONDON: HUMPHREY MILFORD
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Published, October, 1915
ACCEPTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY
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THE DEVELOPMENT OF PHILOSOPHY
/The real beginning of the philosophical development in
Japan is the time of the so-called Revolution of Meiji,1
though the Oriental philosophy of life was well developed
many centuries earlier and prepared the Japanese mind in
complex, manifold and subtle ways for the new study of the
Occidental philosophy., It is, therefore, barely a half century's
progress that mainly concerns our present study. Of course it
is too short for the mental development of the race, for a
decade of years is only one year to the race development. In
fact, the Japanese mind is still in the stage of assimilation. It
cannot yet show anything which is worthy to be called a native
production in the field of philosophy., It is not, however,
k without interest to study the mental processes of a people, who.
until the middle of the nineteenth century, were entirely secluded
from the outer world. A too hasty reception of such dignified
thought as the Western philosophy would, indeed, have been
open to suspicion. Is there not after all a danger like indi-
gestion or suffocation of the mind? How and in what manner
have the Japanese assimilated the new and difficult thought?
What is their merit and what.is their defect in philosophical
development? What will be their future? These and kindred
questions require our careful and faithful investigation. Some
may deplore as unduly indulgent the assumption that the Japa-
nese labors in the field of philosophy are deserving of such
study. I should claim that their very immaturity may lend added
interest to the enquiry and may even serve as a claim to our
special attention. But even though my task may be regarded by
some as of little consequence, I shall strive to describe it in a
faithful manner. As Augustine has said, "Little things are
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little things; but faithfulness in little things is something
II. THE MENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE
It is helpful, nay, even necessary for our present task to
have a general knowledge of the mental characteristics of the
Japanese. The mental play in the theatre of a nation can be
fully understood only in and through our thorough familiarity
with some main and significant traits of its actors. If we
neglect this preliminary study we can hardly penetrate into the
real nature of what has been happening.
It seems to me that Mr. Dening is quite adequate when he
describes the Japanese characteristics in the following manner:
"Neither their past history nor their prevailing taste show any tend-
ency to idealism. They are lovers of the practical and real,; neither the
fancies of Goethe nor the reveries of Hegel are to their liking. Our
poetry and our philosophy and the mind that appreciates them are alike
the results of a net-work of subtle influences to which the Japanese
are comparative strangers. It is maintained by some, and we think
justly, that the lack of idealism in the Japanese mind renders the life
of even the most cultivated a mechanical, humdrum affair when com-
pared with that of Westerners. The Japanese can not understand why
our controversialists should wax so fervent over psychological, ethical,
religious, and philosophical questions, failing to perceive that this
fervency is the result of the intense interest taken in such subjects.
The charms that the cultivated Western mind finds in the world of fancy
and romance, in questions themselves, irrespective of their practical
bearings, are for the most part unintelligible to the Japanese."
There are abundant proofs of this practical tendency of
Japanese thought. One of the most obvious instances is the
fact that when the Japanese came in contact with Western
culture, they first of all learned those arts and science, espe-
cially the medical and the military, which are most directly
connected with individual and national existence. In so doing
they revealed a quite remarkable power of using their new
knowledge to good practical purpose. Indeed the Japanese
tend toward utilitarianism in the wider sense of that term. As
Mr. Dening has said, they are lovers of the practical and the
real. They tend to consider that what is real is true and that
what is true is real. We find them saying that "proof is better
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than argument." This tendency has had such free play that
the people have in many respects shown themselves prone to a
materialism or naturalism which conflicts with the Christian
view of life and which places added difficulties in the way of
The development of philosophical ideas in Japan also illus-
trates this practical tendency. A philosophy of conduct, which
has derived its inspiration chiefly from the Confucian teaching,
ruled the people for many centuries. As Dr. Dyer states in his
work "Dai Nippon,"2 the chief end of education in Japan was
to build up character. This practical, or virtue-centric ten-
dency has been insisted upon by one of the most typical
philosophers of Old Japan :
S"Scholar is a name for virtue, not for arts. Literature is an art, and
a man with an inborn genius for it has no difficulty in becoming a man
of letters. But though proficient in letters, he is not a scholar if he be
'lacking in virtue. He is only an ordinary person knowing letters. An
illiterate man with virtue is not an ordinary person. He is a scholar
Not only Nakae but almost all scholars emphasized "to be"
in order "to do." In other words, they all strove to realize
the true self and regarded it as the ultimate end of life.
The same trait is obvious in the development of Buddhism in
Japan. Owing to its extramundane nature and its pessimistic
tone Buddhism did not at first alpeal to the native mind, except
that its rites and arts found a response in their superstitions
and aesthetic nature. But when the people came to reflect on
life, and were dissatisfied with its present state, especially at a
period when men's chief business was to fight and women's
to weep, Buddhism, with its doctrine of Karma and Nirvina,
gave solution to their problems and salvation to their restless
souls. Calmness, patience and benevolence are its meritorious
outcome; and are written large in Japanese life.
It is worth while to notice the rise of a new sect called
"Shinshiu" in 1266. The Shinshiu has been called the "Pro-
testantism of Japan." Its teaching is akin to Christianity. It
puts stress on salvation by faith. It teaches that Amida, god
SToju Nakae. See Mr. Uchimura's "Representative Men of Japan."
of gods, is a merciful being, and that his mercy is so abundant
that any person, however sinful and wicked, if only he pray
with true and earnest heart for his salvation, can be saved by
merciful Amida. This sect, unlike other sects, is in direct
contact with actual life. Its priests may marry, and they are
free to eat both flesh and fish. It is the most powerful of the
Japanese sects; its temples are large and magnificent, are
found in the most crowded parts of the cities, and are
thronged day and night with earnest worshippers. In opposi-
tion to this sect is the "Zenshiu" or "contemplative" sect. It
is akin to Spinoza's ethical teaching, seeking salvation through
the acquisition of truth. Not faith but reason, not heart but
mind, this sect regards as essential for the living of a good life.
This sect, inspires the educated people, while the Shinshiu sect
meets the need of the common people. Both, however, agree
in their practical tendency and close attachment to life.
This tendency is even more obviously revealed in Bushido, a
moral principle of the Samurai, and in the popular philosophy
of Shingaku. Both are an outcome of genuine Japanese life
in so far as that has been moulded by the intermingled influ-
ences of Confucianism, Buddhism and Shintoism. But that is
a matter which I cannot here discuss in detail. In Dr. Nitobe's
famous work "Bushido" and Dr. Knox's "Japanese Life in
Town and Country," there is ample evidence, sufficient to con-
vince every fair-minded reader, that these movements are both
practical in type and genuinely Japanese in character.
The Japanese, in short, are a predominantly practical people.
Being practical, as Dr. Takayama has well said, their single aim
is life. This is at once their defect and their merit; defect,
because it may hinder the development of their speculative
thinking; and merit, because it keeps intact the vital relation
between life and thought. It is a question, however, how far
this practical tendency has proved a hindrance. Indeed it
may be argued that it has actually aided in the development of
Japanese philosophy. Japan, so long secluded from the world,
and suddenly awakened as from a dream, had good reason to
hold fast to its anchorage in the practical necessities of life.
But before we enter upon a discussion of this subject, let us
see how the Japanese with their remarkably practical tendency
did in fact accomplish their philosophical development. The
L I .~LWIIPI
above question will then be more easily solved; nay, we shall
find it already answered.
III. THE STAGES OF PHILOSOPHICAL
We must constantly bear in mind the preliminary or embry-
onic stage in the philosophical development of Japan, that is,
the development of Oriental thought in Old Japan, prior to the
Revolution of Meiji.' If we consider the great period of time
over which this preliminary development extends and the
degree to which it has moulded the Japanese mind, we shall not
be in danger of underestimating the part which it is destined to
play in all modem Japanese movements. But with this word of
caution,'I must leave it undiscussed. It falls outside the scope
of our present enquiry.
There are three main stages in the philosophical development
of New Japan. The first stage, during which French and
English thought was influential, covers the period from the
beginning of Meiji to the latter part of the second decade. The
second stage, during which German thought was influential,
begins amidst the prevailing influence of previous thought and
extends to the end of the fourth decade. The third stage, dur-
ing which the subject of study was widened and interest among
the people was expanded, appears at the end of the fourth de-
cade and continues to the present day. These three stages have
as their respective backgrounds the corresponding tendencies of
thought on politics, social problems, education and religion.
These backgrounds make the development of philosophy pecu-
liar and complex in each of its stages.
I. THE FIRST STAGE
The first stage of philosophical development in Japan is,
broadly speaking, a period of Enlightenment. For the Japan-
ese at this time, having been awakened by the new light of the
culture and science of the West, lost their confidence in the
traditional authorities and powers. They began to recognize
the right of individual reasoning in the various spheres, politi-
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cal, social, moral and religious. They dethroned custom and
enthroned truth. "Truth and nothing but truth" was the
watchword of this time. Anything and everything, therefore,
that was new and rational seemed acceptable to them, and at
once struck root into the soil of the Japanese mind. This
Zeitgeist is fully embodied in Emperor Mutsuhito himself.
On ascending the throne in 1868, the young emperor enunciated
the fundamental principles of his government in the form of a
solemn oath, which has since then been known as "the Five
Articles of the Imperial Oath." The articles are as follows:
(i) -Deliberative assemblies should be established, and all
members of government should be controlled by public opinion.
(2) All classes, high or low, should unite in vigorously car-
rying out the programme upon what the government may
(3) Officials, civil and military, and all common people
should, as far as may be possible, be allowed to fulfil their just
desires, so that they may not be divided by discontent.
(4) Uncivilized customs of former times should be broken
through, and everything should be based upon the just and
equitable principles of nature.
(5) Knowledge should be sought for throughout the world,
that the welfare of the empire may be promoted.
These articles, like the Declaration of Independence, reveal
the spirit of a revolutionary age. This is especially true of the
last two articles, which re-echo the rationalistic unhistorical
character of the eighteenth century European Enlightenment.
The introduction of Western philosophy into Japan occurred
under the influence and inspiration of this general movement,
but took place in a very gradual manner. Mr. Miyake has sug-
gested that philosophical studies might have developed more
rapidly had the United States been less essentially practical,
and the existing American philosophies been less :closely
allied with religion. This view, though it may be true in certain
respects, seems to me to be at least one-sided. As I have
already argued, I think it was both natural and necessary that
the Japanese, temperamentally a practical people, should first
turn their attention to the medical and military arts and
sciences, and should not until later occupy themselves with pure
*. The development, has indeed, depended
rcumstances, but in much greater degree upon
"'it is a noteworthy fact and can not be accounted
that Prof. Wayland's "Ethics" and "Political
i ere widely read by the Japanese before and after
option of Meiji. This already reveals the practical and
entric tendency of their natural interests.
trwas in the sixth year of Meiji, i.e., 1873, that a philosoph-
Scourse, was for the first time, opened in the Kaisei-Gakko,
the former institution, of the Tokyo Imperial University.
Prof. J. Surners gave his lectures on logic, using Fowler's
a'Dehtitve Logic" and Mill's "'System of Logic" as textbooks.
i: tW xtiet year Professor Syle was added to the staff. He
yhology, using as textbooks Hopkin's "Study of Man"
6vis "Mental Philosophy."
Sears later Dr. M. Toyama, who had studied at Michi-
Aj ;j* University, was appointed the first Japanese professor in
: Pi ilosophy. He introduced Spencer's thought in its various
ll? ihes. The next year, i.e., 1877, Prof. E. S. Morse introduced
the evolution theory of Darwin and Huxley in a manner which
gave it influence and currency. Prof. Fenollosa, who in 1878
came from Harvard University, gave lectures on religion based
on Spencer's Sociology. Mr. Fukuzawa's "Jiji-shogen, or
Random Thoughts of the Time," which is largely based on
Galton's theory of heredity, reflects the prevalent tendencies of
this epoch. Though Christianity had already begun to strike
root in the native mind, and though heated discussions had
,. appeared between Christians and those who followed Darwin
^; ni d Spencer, the general mind rather tended to favor the
Ai ': iter, proving the justice of Professor Chamberlain's words:
I e now bow down before the shrine of Herbert Spencer."
.'h~re is another factor noticeable in the philosophical devel-
Aiist at this period, namely, the influence of Utilitarianism.
Ii groupp of the Keio-Gijukcu, now Keio University, gave
ct attentionn and favor to the teaching of Bentham and Mill.
The most widely spread and most influential type of thought
was, no doubt, that of the French Enlightenment. It prevailed
'Founded by Mr. Fukuzawa a few years before the Revolution of
not with this or that group of thinkers, but among the nation
at large. The nation had become acquainted with the Western
nations and with their various forms of government. The de-
mand for liberty, equality and the individual's right to judge
things by his own reason then naturally arose; and driven
by an inward need for these things people found the great
teachers in that line,-such teachers as Voltaire, Montesquieu,
and Rousseau. The introduction of this French thought was
made by those natives who studied in France. Of these
Mi. T. Nakae was the most noted. He translated Rousseau's
"Sotial Contract" in 1882.6 The French thought was so
influential at this time that it inspired the Liberal party and
through this party the whole nation, and hastened the esablish-
ment of constitutional government in Japan.
The Japanese Enlightenment differs from the Greek Enlight-
enment and resembles that of the eighteenth century in its pre-
dominantly practical character. The Greek Sophists were
skeptical. They despaired of solving the problem of the
universe, and finding no satisfactory objective criterion to
distinguish between right and wrong, appealed either to the
authority of the customary or to the varying judgments of indi-
vidual men. The Japanese, on the other hand, held firmly to the
conviction that there is universal truth, and that it is attainable
by man's reason. This is shown in the Emperor Mutsuhito's
announcement that "Knowledge should be sought for through-
out the world." That declaration rests on the, conviction that
truth is universal, and that we possess the power of discovering
it. Unfortunately or fortunately, however, the movement
lasted only little more than one decade of years, and before
it could develop its full content the reactionary movement had
begun to make its appearance, and the philosophical develop-
ment entered upon the second stage.
Here a question naturally arises: "Why was the Enlighten-
ment in Japan so short?" Several points may be noted. First,
the common people, or mass of men, were perfectly satisfied
with the verdict of common sense under whose guidance they
made'no extreme adventure in thought and action, and conse-
He also translated some other French books; e.g., Fouillies "Histoire
de la Philosophie."
S 'evous mistakes. With regard to the basis of
it may be safely affirmed that ethical opinions
eral, very moderate. Owing to their practical
ey always took account of their effect upon life.
constructive and avoided any extreme thought which
ive and might endanger actual life.
-udly, the reactionary spirit arose and was the chief
r in bringing the movement to its end. In fact, the intro-
ion of Western culture and science,into Japan moved hand
is "i hand with the development of political affairs. The restor-
ation 4ft l power over the whole nation by compelling
4b1'make some sort of revolution in the various
cal, moral, social and religious, etc., supplied an
ty for the manifestation of individualism of the mod-
tenment type. But when these changes had been
ld the new modes of government were firmly estab-
,~the people naturally began to reflect, and came to be
ae of their native conditions as these had historically devel-
*:' ped. In other words, the Japanese national consciousness was
S awakened. This turn of current thought, strange to say, was
hastened by the Enlightenment movement itself. For in
contributing to the establishment of constitutional government,
S it aided in supplying the conditions under which a greater
degree of self-consciousness could be attained. When Japan
became truly aware of itself, its gaze inevitably returned upon
its past and the Enlightenment, in its cosmopolitan character,
'was at an end.
2. THE SECOND STAGE
ithe second stage in the development of philosophy in Japan
n thought is dominant. While the constitution was being
up various institutions of European origin were studied,
Pi e opinions of experts were asked for. Among those to
whom we largely owe the adjustment of State affairs was Dr.
Stein of Austria, who taught our senior statesmen the idea of a
State and how to manage it. At the same time public opinion
began to favor German principles in politics, mainly because the
institutions of Germany were akin to those of Japan. The mili-
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tary system also was fashioned on the German model, though
previously it had been fashioned on the French model. More-
over, from the middle of the second decade of Meiji, the
students sent abroad by the government prosecuted their studies
mostly in Germany, and on their return were looked upon as
leaders of contemporary Japan. In these various ways German
thought came to permeate the fields of politics, education, law,
music and the various sciences. This atmosphere of philo-
Germanism took its course in Japan side by side with the
national consciousness which encouraged the renaissance of
It was as early as 1880 that Professor Cooper first introduced
Kant's critical philosophy to Japan. Professor Fenollosa also
taught at this time Hegel's logic. In 1885 and 1886 Professor
Knox,7 professor at Meiji-Gakuin, gave his lectures in the
Tokyo Imperial University. Professor Busse, who is now
professor at Kbnigsberg University, Germany, followed Pro-
fessor Knox. Both of them tended toward Lotze's thought.
In 1890 Dr. T. Inone8 returned from Germany after some
years' study at Leipzig. He was chiefly influenced by the
teaching of Wundt. Two years previously, Dr. Motosa, on
returning from 'America after some years' study at Boston
University and Johns Hopkins, had introduced psychophysics.
This study also drew the natives toward Wundt, and his
influence became very considerable. Four years later, i.e., in
1894, Professor Koeber took the chair of Professor Busse after
his resignation and holds it at the present time. He gave his
courses, at this time, on Schopenhauer and Hartmann. Thus
in this period German thought in one or another of its diverse
forms prevailed in philosophical circles.
While German thought was influencing the Japanese, the
. general tendency, as might be expected, gradually changed from
that of the Enlightenment spirit to that of the Romantic move-
ment. As the Enlightenment spirit declined the conservative
and retrospective spirit began to take its place among the
'Cf, Professor Knox's "A Japanese Philosopher."
*Dr. T. Inone lectured in ,Paris in 1897, upon the development
of philosophical thought in Japan. Since that time he has been devoting
himself to the completion of his study of Japanese philosophy.
people who were so youthful in the previous stage. In some
sense, indeed, this is the period of the awakening of the
self-consciousness that accompanies adolescence-complex and
full of danger. The Japanese mind, as we have noted, had been
influenced over a very long period by Buddhism, and that left
as a permanent deposit a deep pathos and seriousness of spirit.
A brighter more confident attitude had temporarily appeared
in the decade of the Enlightenment, but now that the current
was altered, Buddhism revived. The classical literature was
recalled with .enthusiasm. The general interest in literary
matters greatly increased; and in. dissatisfaction with mere
translations fromn-foreign tongues the desire arose for original
and native works. This period has therefore been entitled the
"Raissance of Meiji." It not only represents the revival of
thq Jgpanese classics; but also represents, like Romanticism in
modern Europe, what may be called the "Renaissance of Won-
der." As a reaction against 'the rationalism of the previous
period it bears the sign of anti-intellectualism, which led, how-
ever, in the next 'stage, to a higher and deeper view of the true
nature and function of thought or reason.
This quasi-Romanticism helped philosophical development
by the close contact it established between literature and
philosophy. Philosophers like Schopenhauer, Hartmann and
Nietzsche came to exercise great influence in general thought.
At this time also many young natives became interested
in the study of aesthetics. Especial mention may be made
of the writings on this subject of Dr. Takayama, Dr. Mori
and Dr. Tsubouchi. The rise of literature, in short,
was largely inspired by philosophical thought, and the advance-
ment of literature, in turn, gave a stimulus to the development
There are two other factors that call for notice in this stage
of philosophical development; namely, historicism and national-
ism., Both appear in the reaction against the Enlightenment
movement, Nationalism is opposed to individualism and his-
toricism to the revolutionary spirit. In their development they
took on various different aspects, but nationalism developed
chiefly on the line of ethical or educational interest; while
historicism contributed to the adoption of an historical method
in literature and in scientific studies.
Between 1890 and I895 several histories of Japanese litera-
ture were published. The historical study of Buddhism was,
for the first time, attempted by the party called "New Budd-
hists." The historical study of the Japanese arts was also
attempted.9 These are indications that the Japanese had come
to be aware of the important truth of historical continuity.
As to nationalism, we may recognize that its inspiration
came direct from German thought. But it is none the less true,
that the native mind welcomed the nationalist point of view
owing to its affinity with the political and social needs of
Japan at this time. Nationalism first appeared as the "Conserv-
ative Party," whose chief representatives were Mr. Shiga and
Dr. Miyake. They published in 1887 a new magazine called
"Nihonjin" in which they warned the Japanese not to imitate
other nations, blindly forgetting their own meritorious qualities
as recorded in history. A group who adopted a policy called
"Japanism" arose some ten years later. Their message accord-
ing to its foremost propounder, Dr. Takayama, is not "conserva-
tion" but "criticism," that is to say, to criticise everything ac-
cording to the standard of the national needs, regardless
whether what is criticized be old or new, native or foreign. The
attitude of Japanism is, he maintains, distinctively critical in
contrast with the uncritical conservatism of the old party. This
nationalism alike in its more conservative and its more liberal
form, found opportunity to enrich its content and to define its
position both in the solving of internal problems and in the
constantly recurring conflicts with other nations. It has been
greatly intensified by the wars with China and Russia.
This national spirit came to be so strong that a hot contro-
versy arose in 1892 between the conservative thinkers and those
converted to Christianity. The points in the indictment of
Christianity were formulated as follows:
(1) Christianity pretends to be a universal religion, and does
not recognize national difference. This contradicts the funda-
mental teaching of the edict which is strongly national and
(2) Christian morality is founded upon a supernatural
'Eg., Dr. Takayama wrote his "History of Japanese Arts."
'1%.&I, I i I Oi EiN. .
belief in Divinity. This is contrary to the practical and
nationalistic basis of our morality.
(3) The love of Christianity is universal and does not admit
special duties toward ruler and parents. This is diametrically
opposed to the cardinal virtues, filial piety and loyalty, as in-
sisted upon in the edict.
This representation of Christianity may perhaps be regarded
as too clearly erroneous and partial. The conservative thinkers,
however, in their enthusiastic adoption of the nationalist stand-
point, seemed to themselves to be inevitably led to this inter-
pretation of Christianity.
To conclude: in this prolonged second stage, the people of
Japan passed from the Enlightenment to the Romanticist atti-
tude. Their Romanticist attitude found expression for itself on
the one hand in historicism, and on the other in nationalism.
3. THE THIRD STAGE
(Approximately, 19o5 to the present time.)
Dr. Kuwaki calls this period that of Subjectivism, adopting
the term used by Prof. K. Lamprecht. As he has explained, the
spirit of this period, like that of Europe in the beginning of
the nineteenth century, is marked by self-consciousness. We
find here, as in the history of Greek thought, a change of cur-
rent, ebb and flow. We have seen that the two main
achievements of the preceding stage, were historicism and na-
tionalism. Toward the end of that stage, however, the Japanese
have come round to the opposite of the first stage. Rationalism
has now gone and reliance upon the instinctive has taken its
place. The atmosphere which was so fresh during the
first stage, the Enlightenment period, has become heavy and
oppressive; and many are led to seek their salvation in religion,
especially in Christianity. This new spiritual demand may be
characterized by such words as "restlessness" or "self-
knowledge." They are very prevalent in the literature of the
time. With this changing attitude the second stage is ended
and our present stage is before us with its new message and
In proportion to the general progress in experience and in
knowledge, the philosophical interest came to be deepened as
well as expanded. The native thinkers began at this time to
present their careful expositions to the public. For instance
Dr. Hatano published his "Study on Spinoza" in 1gio.
Last year Mr.'Watsuji completed his study of Nietzsche, and
Mr. Inage his exposition of Eucken's thought. Professor
Kuwaki also published several works among which his "Gendai
Schicho Jikko" is the most notable. It is marked by clearness
and scholarly treatment of modern thought under the heads
of Realism, Agnosticism, Naturalism, Historicism, Impression-
ism, Pragmatism and New Realism.
There are many translations of philosophical works. Plato's
works were translated by Mr. T. Kimura in 1903. Eucken's
works and Bergson's works have been translated by young
students. Dr. Anezaki, now lecturer at Harvard University,
has recently translated Schopenhauer's "Welt als Wille und
Vorstellung." Many other works were also translated,
e.g., works by Bowne, Fullerton, Hibben, H6ffding, James,
and Wundt. We must, however, remember that there are
many important works which are read by the Japanese with
great interest, and which yet for one or another reason are
not translated into Japanese. We must bear in mind also that
most of the Japanese students who interest themselves in
philosophical study are able to use for their purpose at least
either English, German or French; and this perhaps partly
accounts for the fact that, the translation of foreign works
into Japanese is decreasing in number though certainly it is
advancing in quality; while, on the other hand, the native
works are increasing year after year.'0
The following statistical table confirms these remarks:
(years) (translation) (native works)
1877 232 4.745
1882 241 8.751
1887 692 8.885
I8921 173 21409
1897 141 25.381
1898 9 21.097
1899 8So 21455
I90o II 18.505
1901 35 19.431
1902 8 23.349
1903 17 24.738
1904 28 26.582
1 Japan entered the International Union of Copyright Reservation in 1888.
-m ,-. '*' ." s'r..rr7~' .'w7.77 .,'.,
Thus far we have studied the stages of philosophical devel-
opment in Japan viewed from the point of historical continuity.
There are, however, still other problems which have not
been dealt with, and some points which, though already briefly
touched upon, need more detailed treatment. To these I may
IV. THE RELATION OF RELIGION TO THE PHILO-
SOPHICAL DEVELOPMENT IN JAPAN
There are three religions in Japan; Shintoism, Buddhism
and Christianity. Shintoism did not play a very important part
in the development of philosophy, except in connection with
ethical problems. Even in that field, Confucianism played the
more important part. Shintoism, however, cooperated with
Confucianism in forming the national spirit. For a long time it
drew numerous pilgrims to the high mountains or to retired
valleys. Their superstition was thus mingled with the sacred
touch of nature as well as with some sort of hero worship.
This habit of pilgrimage, thodigh having no very direct or
immediate effect upon life, certainly influenced the national
morality and especially the spirit of "Bushido." The tenets of
Shintoism, as Dr. Nitobe says in his famous "Bushido," cover
the two predominating features of the emotional life of our
race-Patriotism and Loyalty. As Prof. J. Royce has said in
his "Problem of Christianity":
"The Japanese are fond of telling us that their imperial
family, and their national life, are coeval with heaven and
earth. The boast is cheerfully extravagant; but its relation to
a highly developed form of the consciousness of a community
is obvious. Here, then, is a consideration belonging to social
psychology, but highly important for our understanding of the
sense in which a community is or' can be possessed of one
Buddhism is more closely connected with the development of
philosophy in Japan. It prepared the people for their new
study of Western thought. Also, many Buddhists, while still
remaining devout students of their own Oriental literature,
themselves prosecuted the study of Occidental philosophy.
During the Enlightenment period Buddhist priests had been
severely attacked for their conventionality and for their lack of
influence. They were, however, awakened partly by this at-
tack and partly by the appearance of Christianity as a new
rival religion which was now powerfully influencing the Japan-
ese. Compelled to arm themselves with the weapon of knowl-
edge and to take the offensive against the new rival, the Japan-
ese Buddhists were constrained to study the new thought of
the West. Their choice of means to meet the situation has
been well judged, and has enabled them to take full advantage
of .the favouring reaction against the unhistorical Enlighten-
ment movement. Availing themselves of every opportunity,
the Japanese Buddhists became more and more active in their
study and in their social work. In 1876 Dr. Manjo, a priest
of the "Shinshiu" sect, together with a friend studied in Eng-
land under Max Miiller. Dr. Manjo returned from England in
1884. In the same year Mr. Kitabatake returned from Ger-
many. When Mr. Hara in 1878 became lecturer at the Tokyo
Imperial University he opened the way for the students of the
University to devote themselves to Buddhistic study.
The Japanese Buddhists found their most congenial inspira-
tion in Schopenhauer, in Spinoza, and in Hegel's quasi-Panthe-
ism. But their study has not, of course, been confined to these.
Dr. E. Inone's "Bukko Katsuron," one of the most influential
of the new Buddhist writings, was mainly based on Spencer's
Agnosticism. Dr. E. Inone established a philosophical institu-
tion in Tokyo for the Buddhist students. Besides this institu-
tion several Buddhist universities and colleges were established.
The two Buddhist thinkers, Dr. Takayama and Dr. Anezaki,
while contributing to the historical and philosophical study of
Buddhism, also aided in its more popular appeal. Dr. Taka-
yama was specially interested in Saint Nichiren who has been
regarded as the "Saint Paul of Japanese Buddhism." Dr.
Anezaki wrote an essay: "How Christianity Appeals to a
Japanese Buddhist." He attempts in that essay to show that
there are in Buddhism points similar to Christianity, though
in their historical developments they have taken very different
courses. "These two religions (Christianity and Buddhism),
viewed in their respective historical sources, show two uncom-
promising if not contradictory aspects of the religious experi-
II I ` 'x "~"~-
ence of mankind." He concisely formulates these different
aspects, maintaining that Christianity is more practical and
religious, while Buddhism is more speculative and less re-
ligious. He further argues that there is an essential similarity
under these different aspects, since in both cases personal,
moral, evidence of religion rests on the person of the founder.
He concludes that Christianity is not foreign to Japanese
Buddhism, but is in all its essential features akin to it. I may
not pause to examine these views. It is enough for us merely
to note the attitude of the Japanese Buddhists and to catch a
glimpse of their philosophical interests in the sphere of
In fact, the Japanese Buddhists are striving to meet the
demand of the age, adopting the same good means and meth-.
ods which the Christians have been employing. They are very
active in their social work. They are also attempting to give
a new and more modern interpretation of their central doc-
trines. Indeed it may be said that the Japanese Buddhists are
to a certain extent reforming their doctrines. It is still a
question whether this can ibe successfully achieved without an
open breach with the traditions they represent. At any rate,
their former attitude towards Christianity which was hostile
and extremely antagonistic, has gradually changed to what
may fairly be entitled Christianization, not only on the side of
practical reforms but even on the side of doctrine and its
interpretation. This change of attitude has strengthened, rather
than weakened their interest in philosophical problems; and
they continue actively to participate in the development of
Japanese philosophical thinking. But Christianity is no less
closely bound up with the present development of philosophy
in Japan. And to understand the part which it plays we must
always bear in mind the many and important missionary col-
leges and seminaries in which the young natives have been in-
itiated into modern culture and science. Even if nothing be
said about the main contribution of Christian missionaries in
the sphere of religion, their merits as benefactors of Japanese
civilization can never be forgotten.
Christianity in Japan has had many difficulties to face; and
these difficulties have changed with the changing conditions.
The Christians have fought against Spencer's thought. They
have fought against the so-called narrow nationalism. They
have fought against materialism. Materialism is not perhaps very
active in Japan, but at times the Japanese Iaeckels have publish-
ed their manifestos. Dr. K. Kato,'the former president of the
Tokyo Imperial University, is one of the 'leading materialist
thinkers. Mr. Nakae's "Zoku-Ichinen-Yuhan," a materialist
exposition, was written during the author's fatal sickness and
published in 9goi, and 'though not a truly scholarly work, has
been widely read. The situation in Japan is now more favor-
able to Christianity than at any previous period, yet the Chris-
tian propaganda has of necessity many great difficulties to
overcome. Dr. Schneder, the president of North Japan College,
recently addressed the conference of the Federated Missions
"While Christianity is making a little progress, other great forces
like that of nationalism, the revival of Shintoism, the renewed activity
of Buddhism, agnostic or anti-moral literature and practical material-
ism, that seem to work in deadly opposition to it,'are growing in
strength ... Also the more intimate knowledge which the Japanese
people are gaining year by year of the moral and social conditions
prevailing in the Christian West, and of the thought-currents of the
great universities does not constitute to them an unequivocal argument
in favor of 'Christianity."
Such difficult conditions forced the Japanese Christians to
fight hard, and gave little chance for the wholesale conversion
of large numbers.11
It is a noteworthy fact, however, that some of the most
noted Japanese scholars belong to the group of Christian
thinkers, or were educated at some mission college, such, for
instance, as Professor Nakajima, professor of moral philoso-
phy at the Tokyo Imperial University, Dr. Motora who was
professor of psychophysics in the same institution, and Dr.
Onishi one of the younger generation." It is no exaggeration
The number of the native converts in the various churches, as given
in The Missionary Review of the World for the year 1913 (vol. xxvi
N. S., p. 474) is as follows:
Protestant ......................... 83,638
Roman Catholic ................... 66,689
Greek Catholic ..................... 32,246
"All three men were educated at Doshisha University. Doshisha
was established by J. Niejima in 1875.
I a '
Itn ~c '"
to say that the greater part of the students of philosophy in
Japan at present are either Buddhists or Christians; and that
the atmosphere of religious circles is favorable to philosoph-
ical enquiry. These twin brothers of the spirit, religion and
philosophy, have not on the whole been hostile in Japan. They
have cooperated in their common task.
V. SOCIAL AND ETHICAL PROBLEMS IN RELA-
TION TO THE PHILOSOPHICAL DEVELOPMENT
The most significant change in social conditions in Japan
since the Revolution of Meiji is that belief in freedom and
equality has taken the place of the traditional feudalism. In
ethical fields the same change is obvious. Individualism is no
longer condemned as intrinsically evil. In certain quarters there
were, of course, men who were opposed to the new tendency,
and held the view that the Japanese, while adopting all mater-
ial civilization from the West, ought to remain faithful to the
traditional views of life.. The reaction against the Enlighten-
ment tendency and the awakening of the national consciousness
encouraged the conservative party, and from time to time
heated discussions have arisen between these two opposed
schools. In 1888 the famous edict concerning the moral prin-
ciple of the Japanese was issued. Some conservative scholars
hold the view that this edict is exclusively based on nationalism,
and that it denounces individualism. Others have rejected this
extreme view and have maintained that the edict neither favors
nor rejects either of them. Nationalism has, however, come
to prevail in the field of public education. Moreover the wars
with China and with Russia have strengthened the nationalist
forces, and for a time individualism seems to have been losing
favour.. Nevertheless the change of social life from the old
feudalism to the new individualist system has been steadily
modifying the Japanese modes of regarding life. The strug-
gle for existence and the open door of the business career have
been playing a wonderful part in reforming the social and
ethical ideas of the people. Moreover, universal education
open on equal terms to both male and female, rich and poor,
has given the young a sense of equality and independence with
the accompanying consciousness of human dignity. Thus na-
tionalism has gradually come to make room for individualism;
each has been modified in terms of the other.
A heated discussion has recently arisen as to the interpreta-
tion of State sovereignty. Professor Minobe and Professor
Ichimura held the view that both Emperor and subjects belong
to the State, which is the seat of sovereignty. Professor
Uesugi attacked this position maintaining that the State
belongs to the Emperor, and that the Emperor is therefore
himself the sole seat of sovereignty. The conservative stand-
point seems to be steadily changing. Prof. T. Inone, for in-
stance, who for a long time was the champion of nationalism
has expressed the conviction that even in Japan the State may
be the center of sovereignty, both Emperor and subjects belong-
ing to it. For has not Emperor Nintoku himself declared that
his subjects do not belong to him, but that he himself exists for
his subjects' sake? Such discussions must ultimately issue in
genuinely philosophical discussion of the central problems of
ethical and political theory.
VI. THE PHILOSOPHICAL DEVELOPMENT VIEWED
FROM THE SIDE OF EDUCATION-SOCIETIES
The Imperial Universities and some other private universi-
ties offer courses in philosophy, and almost all mission colleges
require the study of logic, ethics, and history of philosophy.la
"The following were the courses offered at the Tokyo Imperial
University in 1913.
(Subject) (hours) (instructor)
1. Chinese Philosophy ................(3)........Prof Hoshino.
2. History of Oriental Philosophy...... (3)........Prof. T. Inone.
3. The World and Man ............... (2)........
4. Outline of Ethics ................. (3) ........Prof. Makajima.
5. Comparative Study of National
Ideals .......................... (3) ....... "
6. Introduction to Philosophy .........(2) ........Prof. Koeber.
Connected with a brief history of
Occidental philosophy from an-
tiquity to the present time.
7. Kant .............................. (2) ........
With special examination of his smal-
ler treatises and Post Kantian
But generally speaking, the present facilities for philosophical
study are extremely inadequate.
There are three noteworthy philosophical societies in Japan.
The first philosophical society was established in 1884; the
second, entitled an ethical society, was established in 1896.
Both societies have been issuing their periodicals since their
establishment. A third, which combines the study of phi-
losophy and ethics, was established recently but has not yet
issued any periodical. Besides these periodicals which I have
just mentioned there is a semi-philosophical magazine called
"Rikugo-Zasshi," which was established by a group of Chris-
tian thinkers in I881. It has made noteworthy contributions to
Japanese philosophy, particularly during the period when Dr.
Onishi was its chief editor.
8. History of Christianity .............(2) ........Prof. Koeber.
9. Schopenhauer-"Welt als Wille und
Vorstellung" "Parerga" (reading
and interpretation of selected chap-
ters). ...... ............ .. ..... ( ) ........ "
Io. Lessing as Poet, Critic and Philoso-
pher (reading his "Nathan der
ii. Reading of Homer's "Odyssey" and
Aeschylus' "Prometheus" for ad-
vanced students of Greek.......... (2)........
12. Reading of Virgil's Bucolics and
Ovid's Metamorphoses ............ (2)........
13. Outline of Aesthetics ............... (2)........Prof. Otsuka.
14. History of Modern Culture ......... () ........ "
15. Sociology ....................... (4)........ Prof. Tatebe.
................. ..... (2) ...... .
Preceptorial-Reading in Comte's works.
( ) ........
16. Outline of Chinese Ethics .......... (6)........Prof. Hattori.
17. Psychology (outline) .............. (3) ........ Prof. Matsumoto.
18. Experimental Psychology .......... (2) ........ "
19. Metaphysics ..................... (2) ....... .Mr. Kinohisa.
2o. History of Metaphysics ............. (I)........ "
21. Ethics ........................... (2)........Prof. Fukatsukuri.
............................ (4) ....... .
22. Logic ...........................(3) ........Mr. Imafuku.
VII. CONCLUDING REMARKS
Let us now briefly summarize. The Japanese are a practical
people, and being practical they always direct their thought to
human life. For a long time they regarded the realization of
truth in their life as their final end and highest glory. Natur-
ally, therefore, they came to emphasize virtue above all else.
This practical and virtue-centric tendency led the Japanese
along a narrow but safe path. Under the influence of this
tendency they established the new, more modern and more
practical, Buddhist sects. Through this tendency there also
arose from Shinto, Buddhist and Confucian sources the so-
called "Bushido" and "Shingaku."
When the Japanese came in contact with Western civiliza-
tion, they at once began to adopt what most directly connected
with life or at least what in their. eyes seemed to do so: i.e.,
medical science and military art. From these sciences through
the difficult medium of totally foreign languages, they pro-
gressed slowly, step by step, to other and related sciences.
One of the first results was revolution and reform at home.
These eventually issued in the new era of Meiji, i.e., the begin-
ning of New Japan.
Western philosophy was not introduced from America and
England until the new government, after an intermediate period
of turmoil and struggle, had become firmly established, and
until a great body of scientific knowledge had been assimilated,
and foreign languages, especially English, had gained greater
currency. The introduction of philosophy was the final step
in the assimilation of Occidental culture; and the Japanese
proceeded in their usual manner to utilize the new philosophy
for the furtherance of life. Philosophy, was never for the
Japanese a mere toy or an idle imitation. It was regarded by
them as the only means of attaining such truth as is necessary
in order that life may be more fully and truly realized.
The improvement of military art, the advancement of scien-
tific knowledge, the establishment of constitutional government,
the expansion of new education over the whole country, the
development of the new Buddhist sects-all these things show
that the Japanese do not imitate in vain. Every current in
New Japan may be inspired by the main and greater current
of the West, yet in a fundamental sense it is also the outcome
of an inner necessity in the Japanese themselves. The same is
true of their philosophy. The practical tendency of the Japan-
ese.does olt hinder them in their philosophical development,
though it may lay them open to the danger of clinging too
closely to concrete things and of thus weakening the wings of
rejection for flight above the ordinary world. Otherwise there
is no reason for distrusting the ability and the true interest of
the Japanese in the study of philosophy.
To conclude, the Japanese are remarkably young. In the
first place, they are young in the sense of being immature. In
the field of philosophy they are still in the stage of assimila-
tion, though they have reached the stage of production in the
field of science. In the second place, they are young in the
sense that they are eager and untiring for new things which
are good and useful. They look forward rather than back-
ward, and they ardently desire to free themselves from the
tyranny of the present. Whence comes this childlike and
forward-looking attitude of the Japanese? It may come partly
from the unconscious, vital energies of their youthful mind.
But it originates chiefly in their self-conscious activities. The
Japanese are aware of their own immaturity and shortcomings.
They have a keen sense, f dissatisfaction with their present
state, and ardently desire to go forth towards a new region of
higher ideals. For this reason we may safely say that the
Japaneset:ave a promising future. And so long as their
heartr*'imple and their mind is unprejudiced, like a child, so
long"as&they are thus ardent tobtiild ujpthat strength of mind
which apprehends and cleaves to great universal truths, and
so long as they are striving for an elevation of mind that may
make possible higher or truer ideals, they need not, we may be-
lieve, trouble themselves with the question that has been raised
by some foreign critics as to whether they possess the added gift
of originality. If we humble ourselves by self-knowledge and
love human souls with genuine interest as Socrates did; if we
consecrate our mental endeavors in imitation of Spinoza; and if
we strive diligently and regularly without haste and without
rest through our whole life as did Immanuel Kant; then, what
does it matter whether we have originality or not ? Originality,
in fine, is rather a fruit of development, than a necessary and
- -~"- -
essential factor. If we develop our minds we shall be able to
produce something which is original. What we Japanese or
other nations need, therefore, is self-knowledge and the strug-
gle for the realization of higher ideals, adopting all good means
for this end. We need not, nay, even ought not, to waste life
in doubts and fears of any kind. We need only to be true and
earnest-spending ourselves on the work before us with sincere
and consecrating attitude, well assured that the right perfor-
mance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the
hours or ages that follow it. "Man's highest virtue," Goethe has
said, "is always, so far as may be possible, to rule external cir-
cumstances, and as little as possible to be ruled by them." Al-
though we cannot ignore the power of heredity, chance and en-
vironment, yet we may be convinced that it is our self-con-
scious activity which is the determining factor of our future
*OKUMA, S.: Fifty Years of Japan. (1909)
*KNox, G. W.: A Japanese Philosopher. (1892)
*KNox, G. W.: Japanese Life in Town and Country. (1908)
*KNox, G. W.: The Spirit of the Orient. (19o6)
MUJAKAWA, M.: Life of Japan. (1907)
*GULICK, S. L.: Eyplatkltfb f be'Jpasese. (4th ed. 1905)
*NITOBE, I.: BuiShtlo.N ~ eid. aapy edaanslated from
English into Jaifaese, German, French ann1'ot ej languages.]
*NITOBE, I; Jpanese Nation. (1912) *'.*
UcHI*ui' k.: ReppesentatisMenbn bf Japan'. 8)
UCHiTgUiA, K.: 16*W?! 3echief 92ibistian.
CLEMENT, E. W.: A'Hind'Book of Modern Japan. (6th
*AMERICANA (Encyclopaedia). [Articles concerning Japan
are written by Professor Ladd and other scholars.]
HEARN, L.: Kokoro.
DYER, H.: Dai Nippon. (1904)
SLEAD, A.: Japan by the Japanese.
SLEAD, A.: Great Japan. (1905)
GRIFFIS, W.: Mikado's Empire. ( ith ed. 1906)
GrIFFIS, W.: Japanese Nation in Evolution. (1907)
SCHERER: Japan To-Day. (1904)
SCHERER: Young Japan. (1905)
SUIMATSU: The Rising Sun. (1905)
LLOYD: Everyday Japan. (1906)
TYNwrAL: Japan and Japanese. (19go)
WAslo.x: Future of Japan. (1907)
RANSOME, S.: Japan in Transition. (1899)
HITOMI: Le Japon (Paris, 19oo)
HARADA, T.: The Faith of Japan. (1914)
Those thus marked are of especial importance.
_ .. _ll.-~^lli~Ul~-r