EVOLUTION OF THE JAPANESE
THE GROWTH OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD By SIDNEY L. GULICK, M.A. Illustrated with Twenty-six Diagrams 12 mo, Cloth, $1.50 "Commends itself to thoughtful, earnest men of any nation as a most valuable missionary paper. Mr. Gulick traces the Christian religion through history and up to now. The survey is calm, patient, thoroughly honest, and quietly assured." Evangelist. FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY Publishers
EVOLUTION OF THE JAPANESE
SOCIAL AND PSYCHIC
SIDNEY L. GULICK, M.A.
Missionary of the American Board in Japan
NEW YORK CHICAGO TORONTO
Fleming H. Revell Company
LONDON AND EDINBURGH
New York: 158 Fifth Avenue Chicago: 63 Washington Street Toronto: 27 Richmond Street, W. London: 21 Paternoster Square Edinburgh: 30 St. Mary Street
The present work is an attempt to interpret the characteristics of modern Japan in the light of social science. It also seeks to throw some light on the vexed question as to the real character of so-called race-nature, and the processes by which that nature is transformed. If the principles of social science here set forth are correct, they apply as well to China and India as to Japan, and thus will bear directly on the entire problem of Occidental and Oriental social intercourse and mutual influence.
The core of this work consists of addresses to American and English audiences delivered by the writer during his recent furlough. Since returning to Japan, he has been able to give but fragments of time to the completion of the outlines then sketched, and though he would gladly reserve the manuscript for further elaboration, he yields to the urgency of friends who deem it wise that he delay no longer in laying his thought before the wider public.
To Japanese readers the writer wishes to say that although he has not hesitated to make statements painful to a lover of Japan, he has not done it to condemn or needlessly to criticise, but simply to make plain what seem to him to be the facts. If he has erred in his facts or if his interpretations reflect unjustly on the history or spirit of Japan, no one will be more glad than he for corrections. Let the Japanese be assured that his ruling motive, both in writing about Japan and in spending his life in this land, is profound love for the Japanese people. The term "native" has been freely used because it is the only natural correlative for "foreign." It may be well to say that neither the one nor the other has any derogatory implication, although anti-foreign natives, and anti-native foreigners, sometimes so use them.
The indebtedness of the writer is too great to be acknowledged in detail. But whenever he has been conscious of drawing directly from any author for ideas or suggestions, effort has been made to indicate the source.
Since the preparation of the larger part of this work several important contributions to the literature on Japan have appeared which would have been of help to the writer, could he have referred to them during the progress of his undertaking. Rev. J.C.C. Newton's "Japan: Country, Court, and People"; Rev. Otis Cary's "Japan and Its Regeneration"; and Prof. J. Nitobe's "Bushido: The Soul of Japan," call for special mention. All are excellent works, interesting, condensed, informative, and well-balanced. Had the last named come to hand much earlier it would have received frequent reference and quotation in the body of this volume, despite the fact that it sets forth an ideal rather than the actual state of Old Japan.
Special acknowledgment should be made of the help rendered by my brothers, Galen M. Fisher and Edward L. Gulick, and by my sister, Mrs. F.F. Jewett, in reading and revising the manuscript. Acknowledgment should also be made of the invaluable criticisms and suggestions in regard to the general theory of social evolution advocated in these pages made by my uncle, Rev. John T. Gulick, well known to the scientific world for his contributions to the theory as well as to the facts of biological evolution.
I. PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS
Occidental conceptions of the recent history of Japan—Japan seems to be contradicting our theory of national evolution—Similarities of ancient and modern Japan—Japanese evolution is "natural"—The study of Japanese social evolution is of unusual interest, because it has experienced such marked changes—Because it is now in a stage of rapid growth—And is taking place before our eyes—Also because here is taking place a unique union of Occidental and Oriental civilizations—Comparison between India and Japan, 23
II. HISTORICAL SKETCH
Mythology and tradition—Authentic history—Old Japan—The transition from Old to New Japan—New Japan—Compelled by foreign nations to centralize—Ideals and material instruments supplied from abroad—Exuberant Patriotism—"Ai-koku-shin," 35
III. THE PROBLEM OF PROGRESS
Is Japan making progress?—Happiness as a criterion—The oppressive rule of militarism—The emptiness of the ordinary life—The condition of woman—"The Greater Learning for Woman"—Divorce—Progress defined—Deficiency of the hedonistic criterion of progress, 52
IV. THE METHOD OF PROGRESS
Progress a modern conception and ideal—How was the "cake of custom" broken?—"Government by discussion" an insufficient principle of progress—Two lines of progress, Ideal and Material—The significance of Perry's coming to Japan—Effect on Japan of Occidental ideas—The material element of progress—Mistaken praise of the simplicity of Old Japan, L. Hearn—The significance of the material element of civilization—Mastery of nature—The defect of Occidental civilization, 61
V. JAPANESE SENSITIVENESS TO ENVIRONMENT
Our main question—Illustrations—Japanese students abroad—Sensitiveness to ridicule—Advantages and disadvantages of this characteristic—National sensitiveness to foreign criticism—Nudity—Formosa—Mental and physical flexibility—Adjustability—Some apparent exceptions—Chinese ideographs—How account for these characteristics, 72
VI. WAVES OF FEELING—ABDICATION
The Japanese are emotional—An illustration from politics—The tendency to run to extremes—Danger of overemphasizing this tendency—Japanese silent dissent—Men of balance in public life—Abdication—Gubbins quoted—Is abdication an inherent trait? 82
VII. HEROES AND HERO-WORSHIP
Popular national heroes—The craving for modern heroes—Townsend Harris's insight into Oriental character—Hero-worship an obstacle to missionary work—Capt. Jaynes—An experience in Kumamoto—"The sage of Omi"—"The true hero"—Moral heroes in Japan—The advantage and disadvantage of hero-worship—Modern moral heroes—Hero-worship depends on personality and idealism—The new social order is producing new ideals and new heroes, 89
VIII. LOVE FOR CHILDREN
Japanese love for children—Children's festivals—Toys and toy-stores—Do Japanese love children more than Americans do?—Importance in Japan of maintaining the family line—The looseness of the Japanese family tie—Early cessation of demonstrative affection—Infanticide, 96
IX. MARITAL LOVE
Affection between husband and wife—Occidental and Oriental estimate of woman contrasted—This a subject easily-misunderstood—Kissing a social habit unknown in Japan—Demonstrative affection a social, not a racial characteristic—Some specific illustrations, Dr. Neesima—A personal experience—Illegitimate children—Fraudulent registration—Adult adoption—Divorce—Monogamy, polygamy, and prostitution—Race character, social order, and affection—Position of women—The social order and affection—The social order and the valuation of man and woman—The new social order and the valuation of man—The spread of Christian ideals and the re-organization of the family, 102
Japanese cheerfulness—Festivals—Pessimism existent, but easily overlooked—The ubiquity of children gives an appearance of cheerfulness—Industry—Illustrations—Easy-going—Sociological interpretation—Mutual confidence and trustfulness—Relation to communalistic feudalism—Changes in the social order and in character—The American Board's experience in trusting Japanese honor—The Doshisha and its difficulties—Suspiciousness—Necessary under the old social order—The need of constant care in conversation, 115
XI. JEALOUSY—REVENGE—HUMANE FEELINGS
Jealousy particularly ascribed to women—How related to the social order—Is jealousy limited to women?—Revenge—Taught as a moral duty—Revenge and the new social order—Are the Japanese cruel?—First impressions—Treatment of the insane—Of lepers—The cruelty and hardness of heart of Old Japan—Buddhistic teaching and practice—Buddhist and Christian Orphan Asylums—Treatment of horses—Torture in Old Japan—Crucifixion and transfixion by spears—Hard-heartedness cultivated under feudalism—Cruelty and the humane feelings in the Occident—Abolition of cruel customs in ancient and in Old Japan—Cruelty a sociological, not a biological characteristic—The rise of humane feelings—Doctors and hospitals—Philanthropy, 127
Ambition, both individual and national—The "Kumamoto Band"—Self-confidence and conceit—Refined in nature—Illustrations in the use of English—Readiness of young men to assume grave responsibilities—A product of the social order—Assumptions of inferiority by the common people—Obsequiousness—Modern self-confidence and assumptions not without ground—Self-confidence and success—Self-confidence and physical size—Young men and the recent history of Japan—The self-confidence and conceit of Western nations—The open-mindedness of most Japanese, 137
"Yamato-Damashii": "The Soul of Japan"—Patriotism and the recent war with China—Patriotism of Christian orphans—Mr. Ishii—Patriotism is for a person, not for country—National patriotism is modern—Passionate devotion to the Emperor—A gift of 20,000,000 yen to the Emperor—The constitution derives its authority from the Emperor—A quotation from Prof. Yamaguchi—Japanese Imperial succession is of Oriental type—Concubines and children of the reigning Emperor—Apotheosis, Oriental and Occidental—Apotheosis and national unity—The political conflict between Imperial and popular sovereignty—Japanese and Roman apotheosis—Prof. Nash quoted—Courage—Cultivated in ancient times—A peculiar feature of Japanese courage—"Harakiri"—E. Griffis quoted—A boy hero—Relation of courage to social order—Japanese courage not only physical—modern instance of moral courage, 144
Illustrations of fickleness—Prof. Chamberlain's explanation—Fickleness a modern trait—Continuity of purpose in spite of changes of method—The youth of those on whom responsibility rests—Fluctuation of interest in Christianity not a fair illustration—The period of fluctuation is passing away—Impassiveness—"Putty faces"—Distinguish between stupidity and stoicism—Stupid stolidity among the farmers—Easily removed—Social stolidity cultivated—Demanded by the old social order—The influence of Buddhism in suppressing expression of emotion—An illustration of suppressed curiosity—Lack of emotional manifestations when the Emperor appears in public—Stolidity a social, not a racial trait—A personal experience—The increased vivacity of Christian women—Relations of emotional to intellectual development and to the social order, 159
XV. AESTHETIC CHARACTERISTICS
The wide development of the aesthetic sense in Japan—Japanese aesthetic development is unbalanced—The sense of smell—Painting—Japanese art pays slight attention to the human form—Sociological interpretation—The nude in Japanese art—Relation to the social order—Art and immorality—Caricature—Fondness for the abnormal in nature—Abnormal stones—Tosa cocks—AEsthetics of speech—The aesthetic sense and the use of personal pronouns—Deficiency of the aesthetic development in regard to speech—Sociological explanations—Close relation of aesthetics and conduct—Sociological explanation for the wide development of the aesthetic sense—The classes lived in close proximity—The spirit of dependence and imitation—Universality of culture more apparent than real—Defects of aesthetic taste—Defective etiquette—How accounted for—Old and new conditions—"Western taste debasing Japanese art"—Illustration of aboriginal aesthetic defects—Colored photographs—AEsthetic defects of popular shrines—The aesthetics of music—Experience of the Hawaiian people—Literary aesthetic development—Aston quoted—Architectural aesthetic development—AEsthetic development is sociological rather than biological, 170
Psychological unity of the East and the West—Brain size and social evolution—The size of the Japanese brain—Memory—Learning Chinese characters—Social selection and mnemonic power—Japanese memory in daily life—Memory of uncivilized and semi-civilized peoples—Hindu memory—Max Mueller quoted—Japanese acquisition of foreign languages—The argument from language for the social as against the biological distinction of races—The faculty of imitation; is not to be despised—Prof. Chamberlain's over-emphasis of Japanese imitation—Originality in adopting Confucianism and Buddhism—"Shinshu"—"Nichirenshu"—Adoption of Chinese philosophy—Dr. Knox's over-emphasis of servile adoption—Our ignorance of Japanese history of thought—A reason for Occidental misunderstanding—The incubus of governmental initiative—Relation of imitation to the social order, 189
Originality in art—Authoritative suppression of originality—Townsend Harris quoted—Suppression of Christianity and of heterodox Confucianism—Modern suppression of historical research—Yet Japan is not wholly lacking in originality—Recent discoveries and inventions—Originality in borrowing from the West—Quotations from a native paper, 203
"Roundaboutness"—Some advantages of this characteristic—Illustrations—Study of English for direct and accurate habits of thought—Rapid modern growth of directness—"Nominality"—All Japanese history an illustration—The Imperial rule only nominal—The daimyo as a figure-head—"Nominality" in ordinary life—In family relations—Illustrations in Christian work—A "nominal" express train—"Nominality" and the social order, 210
Do Japanese lack the higher mental faculties?—Evidence of inventions—Testimony of foreign teachers—Japanese students, at home and abroad—Readiness in public speech—Powers of generalization in primitive Japan—"Ri" and "Ki," "In" and "Yo"—Japanese use of Chinese generalized philosophical terms—Generalization and the social order—Defective explanation of puerile Oriental science—Relation to the mechanical memory method of education—High intellectuality dependent on social order, 218
XX. PHILOSOPHICAL ABILITY
Do Japanese lack philosophical ability?—Some opinions—Some distinctions—Japanese interest in metaphysical problems—Buddhist and Confucian metaphysics—Metaphysics and ethics—Japanese students of Occidental philosophy—A personal experience—"The little philosopher"—A Buddhist priest—Rarity of original philosophical ability and even interest—Philosophical ability and the social order in the West, 225
Some criticisms of Japanese mental traits—Wide range of imaginative activity—Some salient points—Unbalanced imaginative development—Prosaic matter-of-factness—Visionariness—Impractical idealism—Illustrations—An evangelist—A principal—Visionariness in Christian work—Visionariness in national ambition—Imagination and optimism—Mr. Lowell's opinion criticised—Fancy and imagination—Caricature—Imagination and imitation—Sociological interpretation of visionariness—And of prosaic matter-of-factness—Communalism and the higher mental powers—Suppression of the constructive imagination—Racial intellectual characteristics are social rather than inherent, 233
XXII. MORAL IDEALS
Loyalty and filial piety as moral ideals—Quotations from an ancient moralist, Muro Kyuso—On the heavenly origin of moral teaching—On self-control—Knowledge comes through obedience—On the impurity of ancient literature—On the ideal of the samurai in relation to trade—Old Japan combined statute and ethical law—"The testament of Iyeyasu"—Ohashi's condemnation of Western learning for its impiety—Japanese moral ideals were communal—Truthfulness undeveloped—Relations of samurai to tradesman—The business standards are changing with the social order—Ancient Occidental contempt for trade—Plato and Aristotle, 249
XXIII. MORAL IDEALS (Continued)
The social position of woman—Valuation of the individual—Confucian and Buddhistic teaching in regard to concubinage and polygamy—Sociological interpretation—Japan not exceptional—Actual morality of Old Japan—Modern growth of immorality—Note on the "Social Evil"—No ancient teaching in regard to masculine chastity—Mr. Hearn's mistaken contention—Filial obedience and prostitution—How could the social order produce two different moral ideals?—The new Civil Code on marriage—Divorce—Statistics—Modern advance of woman—Significance of the Imperial Silver Wedding—The Wedding of the Prince Imperial—Relation of Buddhism and Confucianism to moral ideals and practice—The new spirit of Buddhism—Christian influence on Shinto; Tenri Kyo—The ancient moralists confined their attention to the rulers—The Imperial Edict in regard to Moral Education, 258
XXIV. MORAL PRACTICE
The publicity of Japanese life—Public bathing—Personal experience at a hot-spring—Mr. Hearn on privacy—Individualism and variation from the moral standard—Standards advancing—Revenge—Modern liberty of travel—Increase of wealth—Increasing luxury and vice—Increase of concubinage—Native discussions—Statistics—Business honesty—A native paper quoted—Some experiences with Christians—Testimony of a Japanese consul—Difference of gifts to Buddhist and to Christian institutions—Christian condemnation of Doshisha mismanagement—Misappropriation of trust funds in the West—Business honesty and the social order—Fitness of Christianity to the new social order—A summary—Communal virtues—Individual Vices—The authority of the moral ideal—Moral characteristics are not inherent, but social, in nature, 273
XXV. ARE THE JAPANESE RELIGIOUS?
Prof. Pfleiderer's view—Percival Lowell's definition of religion—Japanese appearance of irreligion due to many facts—Skeptical attitude of Confucius towards the gods—Ready acceptance of Western agnosticism—Prof. Chamberlain's assertion that the Japanese take their religion lightly—Statements concerning religion by Messrs. Fukuzawa, Kato, and Ito—Statements of Japanese irreligion are not to be lightly accepted—Incompetence of many critics—We must study all the religious phenomena—Pilgrimages—Statistics—Mr. Lowell's criticism of "peripatetic picnic parties"—Is religion necessarily gloomy?—God and Buddha shelves universal in Japan—Temples and shrines—Statistics, 286
XXVI. SOME RELIGIOUS PHENOMENA
Stoical training conceals religious emotions—The earnestness of many suppliants—Buddhistic and Shinto practice of religious ecstasy—The revolt from Buddhism a religious movement—Muro Kyu-so quoted—"Heaven's Way"—"God's omnipresence"—Pre-Christian teachers of Christian truth—Interpretation of modern irreligious phenomena—Japanese apparent lack of reverence—Not an inherent racial characteristic—Sketch of Japanese religious history—Shinto—Buddhism—Confucianism—Christianity—Roman Catholicism—Protestantism—Religious characteristics are social, not essential or racial, 296
XXVII. SOME RELIGIOUS CONCEPTIONS
Japanese conceptions as to deity—The number and relation of the gods to the universe—Did the Japanese have the monotheistic conception?—Attractiveness of Christian monotheism—Confucian and Buddhist monism—Religious conception of man—Conception of sin—Defective terminology—Relation of sin to salvation—"Holy water"—Holy towels and the spread of disease—The slight connection between physical and moral pollution—W.E. Griffis quoted—Exaggerated cleanliness of the Japanese—Public bathing houses—Consciousness of sin in the sixteenth century—A recent experience—Doctrine of the future life—Salvation from fate—"Ingwa"—These are important doctrines—"Mei" (Heaven's decree)—Japan not unique—Sociological interpretations of religious characteristics, 310
XXVIII. SOME RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
Loyalty and filial piety as religious phenomena—Gratitude as a religions trait—Hearn quoted—Unpleasant experiences of ingratitude—Modern suppression of phallicism—Brothels and prostitutes at popular shrines—The failure of higher ethnic faiths to antagonize the lower—Suppression of phallicism due to Western opinion—The significance of this suppression to sociological theory—Religious liberty—Some history—Inconsistent attitude of the Educational Department—Virtual establishment of compulsory state religion—Review and summary—The Japanese ready learners of foreign religions—The significance of this to sociology—Japanese future religion is to be Christianity, 322
XXIX. SOME PRINCIPLES OF NATIONAL EVOLUTION
Progress is from smaller to larger communities—Arrest of development—The necessity of individualism—The relation of communal to individual development—A possible misunderstanding—The problem of distribution—Personality, 332
XXX. ARE THE JAPANESE IMPERSONAL?
Assertion of Oriental impersonality—Quotations from Percival Lowell—Defective and contradictory definitions—Arguments for impersonality resting on mistaken interpretations—Children's festivals—Occidental and Oriental method of counting ages—Argument for impersonality from Japanese art—From the characteristics of the Japanese family—The bearing of divorce on this argument—Do Japanese "fall in love"?—Suicide and murder for love—Occidental approval and Oriental condemnation of "falling in love"—Sociological significance of divorce and of "falling in love," 344
XXXI. THE JAPANESE NOT IMPERSONAL
The problem stated—Definitions—Remarks on definitions—Characteristics of a person—Impersonality defined—A preliminary summary statement—Definitions of Communalism and Individualism—The argument for "impersonality" from Japanese politeness—Some difficulties of this interpretation—The sociological interpretation of politeness—The significance of Japanese sensitiveness—Altruism as a proof of impersonality—Japanese selfishness and self-assertiveness—Distinction between communal and individualistic altruism—Deficiency of personal pronouns as a proof of impersonality—A possible counter-argument—Substitutes for personal pronouns—Many personal words in Japanese—Origin of pronouns, personal and others—The relation of the social order to the use of personal pronouns—Japanese conceive Nationality only through Personality—"Strong" and "weak" personality—Strong personalities in Japan—Feudalism and strong personalities, 356
XXXII. IS BUDDHISM IMPERSONAL?
Self-suppression as a proof of impersonality—Self-suppression cannot be ascribed to a primitive people—Esoteric Buddhism not popular—Buddhism emphasized introspection and self-consciousness—Mr. Lowell on the teaching of Buddha—Consciousness of union with the Absolute a developed, not a primitive, trait—Buddhist self-suppression proves a developed self—Buddhist self-salvation and Christian salvation by faith—Buddhism does not develop rounded personality—Buddhism attributes no worth to the self—Buddhist mercy rests on the doctrine of transmigration, not on the inherent worth of man—Analysis of the diverse elements in the asserted "Impersonality "—Why Buddhism attributed no value to the self—The Infinite Absolute Abstraction—Buddhism not impersonal but abstract—Buddhist doctrine of illusion—Popular Buddhism not philosophical—Relation of "ingwa," Fate, to the development of personality—Relation of belief in freedom to the fact of freedom—Sociological consequences of Buddhist doctrine, 377
XXXIII. TRACES OF PERSONALITY IN SHINTOISM, BUDDHISM, AND CONFUCIANISM
Human illogicalness providential—Some devices for avoiding the evils of logical conclusions—Buddhistic actual appeal to personal self-activity—Practical Confucianism an antidote to Buddhist poison—Confucian ethics produced strong persons—The personal conception of deity is widespread—Shinto gods all persons—Popular Buddhist gods are personal—Confucian "Heaven" implies personality—The idea of personality not wholly wanting in the Orient—The idea of divine personality not difficult to impart to a Japanese—A conversation with a Buddhist priest—Sketch of the development of Japanese personality—Is personality inherent?—Intrinsic and phenomenal personality—Note on the doctrine of the personality of God, 389
XXXIV. THE BUDDHIST WORLD-VIEW
Comparison of Buddhist, Greek, and Christian conceptions of God—Nirvana—The Buddhistic Ultimate Reality absolute vacuity—Greek affirmation of intelligence in the Ultimate Reality—Christian affirmation of Divine Personality—The Buddhist universe is partly rational and ethical—The Greek universe is partly rational and ethical—Corresponding views of sin, salvation, change, and history—Resulting pessimism and optimism—Consequences to the respective civilizations and their social orders, 398
XXXV. COMMUNAL AND INDIVIDUAL ELEMENTS IN THE EVOLUTION OF JAPANESE RELIGIOUS LIFE
Japanese religious life has been predominantly communal—Shinto provided the sanctions for the social order—Recent abdication of Shinto as a religion—Primitive Shinto world—view—Shinto and modern science—Shinto sanctions for the modern social order—Buddhism is individualistic—Lacks social ideals and sanctions—Hence it could not displace Shinto—Shinto and Buddhism are supplementary—Produced a period of prosperity—The defect of Buddhist individualism—Imperfect acceptance of Shinto—Effect of political history—Confucianism restored the waning communal sanctions—The difference between Shinto and Confucian social ideals and sanctions—The difference between Shinto and Confucian world-views—Rejection of the Confucian social order—An interpretation—The failure of Confucianism to become a religion—Western intercourse re-established Shinto sanctions—Japan's modern religious problem—Difficulty of combining individual and communal religious elements—Christianity has accomplished it—Individualism in and through communalism—A modern expansion of communal religion—Shared by Japan—Some Japanese recognize the need of religion for Japan—Sociological function of individualistic religion in the higher human evolution—Obstacle to evolution through the development of intellect—The Japanese mind is outgrowing its old religious conceptions—The dependence of religious phenomena on the ideas dominating society—Note on National and Universal religions—Buddhism not properly classified as Universal—The classification of religions, 404
XXXVI. WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ORIENT
The conclusion reached in this work—Contrary to the opinion of tourists, residents, and many sociologists—Professor Le Bon quoted—Social psychic characteristics not inherent—Evolution and involution—Advocates of inherent Oriental traits should catalogue those traits—An attempt by the London Daily Mail—Is the East inherently intuitive, and the West logical?—The difficulty of becoming mutually acquainted—The secret of genuine acquaintance—Is the East inherently meditative and the West active?—Oriental unity and characteristics are social, not inherent—Isolated evolution is divergent—Mutual influence of the East and the West—Summary statement, 422
XXXVII. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
Review of our course of thought—Purpose of this chapter—The problem studied in this work—Interrelation of social and psychic phenomena—Heredity defined and analyzed—Evolution defined—Exact definition of our question, and our reply—What would be an adequate disproof of our position—Reasons for limiting the discussion to advanced races—Divergent evolution dependent on segregation—Distinction between racial and social unity—Relation of the individual psychic character to the social order—"Race soul" a convenient fiction—Psychic function produces psychic organism—Causes and nature of plasticity and fixity of society—Relation of incarnate ideas to character and destiny—Valuelessness of "floating" ideas—Progress is at once communal and individual—Personality is its cause, aim, and criterion—Progress in personality is ethico-religious—Japanese social and psychic evolution not exceptional, 438
The tragedy enacted in China during the closing year of the nineteenth century marks an epoch in the history of China and of the world. Two world-views, two types of civilization met in deadly conflict, and the inherent weakness of isolated, belated, superstitious and corrupt paganism was revealed. Moreover, during this, China's crisis, Japan for the first time stepped out upon the world's stage of political and military activity. She was recognized as a civilized nation, worthy to share with the great nations of the earth the responsibility of ruling the lawless and backward races.
The correctness of any interpretation as to the significance of this conflict between the opposing civilizations turns, ultimately, on the question as to what is the real nature of man and of society. If it be true, as maintained by Prof. Le Bon and his school, that the mental and moral character of a people is as fixed as its physiological characteristics, then the conflict in China is at bottom a conflict of races, not of civilizations.
The inadequacy of the physiological theory of national character may be seen almost at a glance by a look at Japan. Were an Oriental necessarily and unchangeably Oriental, it would have been impossible for Japan to have come into such close and sympathetic touch with the West.
The conflict of the East with the West, however, is not an inherent and unending conflict, because it is not racial, but civilizational. It is a conflict of world-views and systems of thought and life. It is a conflict of heathen and Christian civilizations. And the conflict will come to an end as soon as, and in proportion as, China awakes from her blindness and begins to build her national temple on the bedrock of universal truth and righteousness. The conflict is practically over in Japan because she has done this. In loyally accepting science, popular education, and the rights of every individual to equal protection by the government, Japan has accepted the fundamental conceptions of civilization held in the West, and has thus become an integral part of Christendom, a fact of world-wide significance. It proves that the most important differences now separating the great races of men are civilizational, not physiological. It also proves that European, American, and Oriental peoples may be possessed by the same great ideals of life and principles of action, enabling them to co-operate as nations in great movements to their mutual advantage.
While even we of the West may be long in learning the full significance of what has been and still is taking place in Japan and more conspicuously just now, because more tragically, in China, one thing is clear: steam and electricity have abolished forever the old isolation of the nations.
Separated branches of the human race that for thousands of years have been undergoing divergent evolution, producing radically different languages, customs, civilizations, systems of thought and world-views, and have resulted even in marked physiological and psychological differences, are now being brought into close contact and inevitable conflict. But at bottom it is a conflict of ideas, not of races. The age of isolation and divergent evolution is passing away, and that of international association and convergent social evolution has begun. Those races and nations that refuse to recognize the new social order, and oppose the cosmic process and its forces, will surely be pushed to the wall and cease to exist as independent nations, just as, in ancient times, the tribes that refused to unite with neighboring tribes were finally subjugated by those that did so unite.
Universal economic, political, intellectual, moral, and religious intercourse is the characteristic of the new aeon on which we are entering. What are to be the final consequences of this wide intercourse? Can a people change its character? Can a nation fully possessed by one type of civilization reject it, and adopt one radically different? Do races have "souls" which are fixed and incapable of radical transformations? What has taken place in Japan, a profound, or only a superficial change in psychical character? Are the destinies of the Oriental races already unalterably determined?
The answers to these questions have already been suggested in the preceding paragraphs, in regard to what has already taken place in Japan. But we may add that that answer really turns on our conception as to the nature of the characteristics separating the East from the West. In proportion as national character is reckoned to be biological, will it be considered fixed and the national destiny predetermined. In proportion as it is reckoned to be sociological, will it be considered alterable and the national destiny subject to new social forces. Now that the intercourse of widely different races has begun on a scale never before witnessed, it is highly important for us to know its probable consequences. For this we need to gain a clear idea of the nature both of the individual man and of society, of the relation of the social order to individual and to race character, and of the law regulating and the forces producing social evolution. Only thus can we forecast the probable course and consequences of the free social intercourse of widely divergent races.
It is the belief of the writer that few countries afford so clear an illustration of the principles involved in social evolution as Japan. Her development has been so rapid and so recent that some principles have become manifest that otherwise might easily have escaped notice. The importance of understanding Japan, because of the light her recent transformations throw on the subject of social evolution and of national character and also because of the conspicuous role to which she is destined as the natural leader of the Oriental races in their adoption of Occidental modes of life and thought, justifies a careful study of Japanese character. He who really understands Japan, has gained the magic key for unlocking the social mysteries of China and the entire East. But the Japanese people, with their institutions and their various characteristics, merit careful study also for their own sakes. For the Japanese constitute an exceedingly interesting and even a unique branch of the human race. Japan is neither a purgatory, as some would have it, nor a paradise, as others maintain, but a land full of individuals in an interesting stage of social evolution.
Current opinions concerning Japan, however, are as curious as they are contradictory. Sir Edwin Arnold says that the Japanese "Have the nature rather of birds or butterflies than of ordinary human beings." Says Mr. A.M. Knapp: "Japan is the one country in the world which does not disappoint ... It is unquestionably the unique nation of the globe, the land of dream and enchantment, the land which could hardly differ more from our own, were it located in another planet, its people not of this world." An "old resident," however, calls it "the land of disappointments." Few phenomena are more curious than the readiness with which a tourist or professional journalist, after a few days or weeks of sight-seeing and interviewing, makes up his mind in regard to the character of the people, unless it be the way in which certain others, who have resided in this land for a number of years, continue to live in their own dreamland. These two classes of writers have been the chief contributors of material for the omnivorous readers of the West.
It appears to not a few who have lived many years in this Far Eastern land, that the public has been fed with the dreams of poets or the snap-judgments of tourists instead of with the facts of actual experience. A recent editorial article in the Japan Mail, than whose editor few men have had a wider acquaintance with the Japanese people or language, contains the following paragraph:
"In the case of such writers as Sir Edwin Arnold and Mr. Lafcadio Hearn it is quite apparent that the logical faculty is in abeyance. Imagination reigns supreme. As poetic nights or outbursts, the works of these authors on Japan are delightful reading. But no one who has studied the Japanese in a deeper manner, by more intimate daily intercourse with all classes of the people than either of these writers pretends to have had, can possibly regard a large part of their description as anything more than pleasing fancy. Both have given rein to the poetic fancy and thus have, from a purely literary point of view, scored a success granted to few.... But as exponents of Japanese life and thought they are unreliable.... They have given form and beauty to much that never existed except in vague outline or in undeveloped germs in the Japanese mind. In doing this they have unavoidably been guilty of misrepresentation.... The Japanese nation of Arnold and Hearn is not the nation we have known for a quarter of a century, but a purely ideal one manufactured out of the author's brains. It is high time that this was pointed out. For while such works please a certain section of the English public, they do a great deal of harm among a section of the Japanese public, as could be easily shown in detail, did space allow."—Japan Mail, May 7, 1898.
But even more harmful to the reading public of England and America are the hastily formed yet, nevertheless, widely published opinions of tourists and newspaper correspondents. Could such writers realize the inevitable limitations under which they see and try to generalize, the world would be spared many crudities and exaggerations, not to say positive errors. The impression so common to-day that Japan's recent developments are anomalous, even contrary to the laws of national growth, is chiefly due to the superficial writings of hasty observers. Few of those who have dilated ecstatically on her recent growth have understood either the history or the genius of her people.
"To mention but one among many examples," says Prof. Chamberlain, "the ingenious Traveling Commissioner of the Pall Mall Gazette, Mr. Henry Norman, in his lively letters on Japan published nine or ten years ago, tells the story of Japanese education under the fetching title of 'A Nation at School'; but the impression left is that they have been their own schoolmasters. In another letter on 'Japan in Arms,' he discourses concerning 'The Japanese Military Re-organizers,' 'The Yokosuka dockyard,' and other matters, but omits to mention that the reorganizers were Frenchmen, and that the Yokosuka dockyard was also a French creation. Similarly, when treating of the development of the Japanese newspaper, he ignores the fact that it owed its origin to an Englishman, which surely, to a man whose object was reality, should have seemed an object worth recording. These letters, so full and apparently so frank, really so deceptive, are, as we have said, but one instance among many of the way in which popular writers on Japan travesty history by ignoring the part which foreigners have played. The reasons for this are not far to seek. A wonderful tale will please folks at a distance all the better if made more wonderful still. Japanese progress, traced to its causes and explained by references to the means employed, is not nearly such fascinating reading as when represented in the guise of a fairy creation, sprung from nothing, like Aladdin's palace."—"Things Japanese," p. 116.
But inter-racial misunderstanding is not, after all, so very strange. Few things are more difficult than to accommodate one's self in speech, in methods of life, and even in thought, to an alien people; so identifying one's deepest interest with theirs as really to understand them. The minds of most men are so possessed by notions acquired in childhood and youth as to be unable to see even the plainest facts at variance with those notions. He who comes to Japan possessed with the idea that it is a dreamland and that its old social order was free from defects, is blind to any important facts invalidating that conception; while he who is persuaded that Japan, being Oriental, is necessarily pagan at heart, however civilized in form, cannot easily be persuaded that there is anything praiseworthy in her old civilization, in her moral or religious life, or in any of her customs.
If France fails in important respects to understand England; and England, Germany; and Germany, its neighbors; if even England and America can so misunderstand one another as to be on the verge of war over the boundary dispute of an alien country, what hope is there that the Occident shall understand the Orient, or the Orient the Occident?
Though the difficulty seems insurmountable, I am persuaded that the most fruitful cause of racial misunderstandings and of defective descriptions both of the West by Orientals, and of the East by Occidentals, is a well-nigh universal misconception as to the nature of man, and of society, and consequently of the laws determining their development. In the East this error arises from and rests upon its polytheism, and the accompanying theories of special national creation and peculiar national sanctity. On these grounds alien races are pronounced necessarily inferior. China's scorn for foreigners is due to these ideas.
Although this pagan notion has been theoretically abandoned in the West, it still dominates the thought not only of the multitudes, but also of many who pride themselves on their high education and liberal sentiments. They bring to the support of their national or racial pride such modern sociological theories as lend themselves to this view. Evolution and the survival of the fittest, degeneration and the arrest of development, are appealed to as justifying the arrogance and domineering spirit of Western nations.
But the most subtle and scholarly doctrine appealed to in support of national pride is the biological conception of society. Popular writers assume that society is a biological organism and that the laws of its evolution are therefore biological. This assumption is not strange, for until recent times the most advanced professional sociologists have been dominated by the same misconception. Spencer, for example, makes sociology a branch of biology. More recent sociological writers, however, such as Professors Giddings and Fairbanks, have taken special pains to assert the essentially psychic character of society; they reject the biological conception, as inadequate to express the real nature of society. The biological conception, they insist, is nothing more than a comparison, useful for bringing out certain features of the social life and structure, but harmful if understood as their full statement. The laws of psychic activity and development differ as widely from those of biologic activity and development as these latter do from those that hold in the chemical world. If the laws which regulate psychic development and the progress of civilization were understood by popular writers on Japan, and if the recent progress of Japan had been stated in the terms of these laws, there would not have been so much mystification in the West in regard to this matter as there evidently has been. Japan would not have appeared to have "jumped out of her skin," or suddenly to have escaped from the heredity of her past millenniums of development. This wide misunderstanding of Japan, then, is not simply due to the fact that "Japanese progress, traced to its causes and explained by reference to the means employed, is not nearly such fascinating reading as when represented in the guise of a fairy creation," but it is also due to the still current popular view that the social organism is biological, and subject therefore to the laws of biological evolution. On this assumption, some hold that the progress of Japan, however it may appear, is really superficial, while others represent it as somehow having evaded the laws regulating the development of other races. A nation's character and characteristics are conceived to be the product of brain-structure; these can change only as brain structure changes. Brain is held to determine civilization, rather than civilization brain. Hampered by this defective view, popular writers inevitably describe Japan to the West in terms that necessarily misrepresent her, and that at the same time pander to Occidental pride and prejudice.
But this misunderstanding of Japan reveals an equally profound misunderstanding in regard to ourselves. Occidental peoples are supposed to be what they are in civilization and to have reached their high attainments in theoretical and applied science, in philosophy and in practical politics, because of their unique brain-structures, brains secured through millenniums of biological evolution. The following statement may seem to be rank heresy to the average sociologist, but my studies have led me to believe that the main differences between the great races of mankind to-day are not due to biological, but to social conditions; they are not physico-psychological differences, but only socio-psychological differences. The Anglo-Saxon is what he is because of his social heredity, and the Chinaman is what he is because of his social heredity. The profound difference between social and physiological heredity and evolution is unappreciated except by a few of the most recent sociological writers. The part that association, social segregation, and social heredity take in the maintenance, not only of once developed languages and civilizations, but even in their genesis, has been generally overlooked.
But a still more important factor in the determination of social and psychic evolution, generally unrecognized by sociologists, is the nature and function of personality. Although in recent years it has been occasionally mentioned by several eminent writers, personality as a principle has not been made the core of any system of sociology. In my judgment, however, this is the distinctive characteristic of human evolution and of human association, and it should accordingly be the fundamental principle of social science. Many writers on the East have emphasized what they call its "impersonal" characteristics. So important is this subject that I have considered it at length in the body of this work.
Sociological phenomena cannot be fully expressed by any combination of exclusively physical, biological, and psychic terms, for the significant element of man and of society consists of something more than these—namely, personality. It is this that differentiates human from animal evolution. The unit of human sociology is a self-conscious, self-determinative being. The causative factor in the social evolution of man is his personality. The goal of that evolution is developed personality. Personality is thus at once the cause and the end of social progress. The conditions which affect or determine progress are those which affect or determine personality.
The biological evolution of man from the animal has been, it is true, frankly assumed in this work. No attempt is made to justify this assumption. Let not the reader infer, however, that the writer similarly assumes the adequacy of the so-called naturalistic or evolutionary origin of ethics, of religion, or even of social progress. It may be doubted whether Darwin, Wallace, Le Conte, or any exponent of biological evolution has yet given a complete statement of the factors of the physiological evolution of man. It is certain, however, that ethical, religious, and social writers who have striven to account for the higher evolution of man, by appealing to factors exclusively parallel to those which have produced the physiological evolution of man, have conspicuously failed. However much we may find to praise in the social interpretations of such eminent writers as Comte, Spencer, Ward, Fiske, Giddings, Kidd, Southerland, or even Drummond, there still remains the necessity of a fuller consideration of the moral and religious evolution of man. The higher evolution of man cannot be adequately expressed or even understood in any terms lower than those of personality.
EVOLUTION OF THE JAPANESE
Said a well educated and widely read Englishman to the writer while in Oxford, "Can you explain to me how it is that the Japanese have succeeded in jumping out of their skins?" And an equally thoughtful American, speaking about the recent strides in civilization made by Japan, urged that this progress could not be real and genuine. "How can such a mushroom-growth, necessarily without deep roots in the past, be real and strong and permanent? How can it escape being chiefly superficial?" These two men are typical of much of the thought of the West in regard to Japan.
Seldom, perhaps never, has the civilized world so suddenly and completely reversed an estimate of a nation as it has that with reference to Japan. Before the recent war, to the majority even of fairly educated men, Japan was little more than a name for a few small islands somewhere near China, whose people were peculiar and interesting. To-day there is probably not a man, or woman, or child attending school in any part of the civilized world, who does not know the main facts about the recent war: how the small country and the men of small stature, sarcastically described by their foes as "Wojen," pygmy, attacked the army and navy of a country ten times their size.
Such a universal change of opinion regarding a nation, especially regarding one so remote from the centers of Western civilization as Japan, could not have taken place in any previous generation. The telegraph, the daily paper, the intelligent reporters and writers of books and magazine articles, the rapid steam travel and the many travelers—all these have made possible this sudden acquisition of knowledge and startling reversal of opinion.
There is reason, however, to think that much misapprehension and real ignorance still exists about Japan and her leap into power and world-wide prestige. Many seem to think that Japan has entered on her new career through the abandonment of her old civilization and the adoption of one from the West—that the victories on sea and land, in Korea, at Port Arthur, and a Wei-hai-wei, and more recently at Tientsin and Pekin, were solely due to her Westernized navy and army. Such persons freely admit that this process of Westernization had been going on for many years more rapidly than the world at large knew, and that consequently the reputation of Japan before the war was not such as corresponded with her actual attainments. But they assume that there was nothing of importance in the old civilization; that it was little superior to organized barbarism.
These people conceive of the change which has taken place in Japan during the past thirty years as a revolution, not as an evolution; as an abandonment of the old, and an adoption of the new, civilization. They conceive the old tree of civilization to have been cut down and cast into the fire, and a new tree to have been imported from the West and planted in Japanese soil. New Japan is, from this view-point, the new tree.
Not many months ago I heard of a wealthy family in Kyoto which did not take kindly to the so-called improvements imported from abroad, and which consequently persisted in using the instruments of the older civilization. Even such a convenience as the kerosene lamp, now universally adopted throughout the land of the Rising Sun, this family refused to admit into its home, preferring the old-style andon with its vegetable oil, dim light, and flickering flame. Recently, however, an electric-light company was organized in that city, and this brilliant illuminant was introduced not only into the streets and stores, but into many private houses. Shortly after its introduction, the family was converted to the superiority of the new method of illumination, and passed at one leap from the old-style lantern to the latest product of the nineteenth century. This incident is considered typical of the transformations characteristic of modern Japan. It is supposed that New Japan is in no proper sense the legitimate product through evolution of Old Japan.
In important ways, therefore, Japan seems to be contradicting our theories of national growth. We have thought that no "heathen" nation could possibly gain, much less wield, unaided by Westerners, the forces of civilized Christendom. We have likewise held that national growth is a slow process, a gradual evolution, extending over scores and centuries of years. In both respects our theories seem to be at fault. This "little nation of little people," which we have been so ready to condemn as "heathen" and "uncivilized," and thus to despise, or to ignore, has in a single generation leaped into the forefront of the world's attention.
Are our theories wrong? Is Japan an exception? Are our facts correct? We instinctively feel that something is at fault. We are not satisfied with the usual explanation of the recent history of Japan. We are perhaps ready to concede that "the rejection of the old and the adoption of Western civilization" is the best statement whereby to account for the new power of Japan and her new position among the nations, but when we stop to think, we ask whether we have thus explained that for which we are seeking an explanation? Do not the questions still remain—Why did the Japanese so suddenly abandon Oriental for Occidental civilization? And what mental and other traits enabled a people who, according to the supposition, were far from civilized, so suddenly to grasp and wield a civilization quite alien in character and superior to their own; a civilization ripened after millenniums of development of the Aryan race? And how far, as a matter of fact, has this assimilation gone? Not until these questions are really answered has the explanation been found, So that, after all, the prime cause which we must seek is not to be found in the external environment, but rather in the internal endowment.
An effort to understand the ancient history of Japan encounters the same problem as that raised by her modern history. What mental characteristics led the Japanese a thousand years ago so to absorb the Chinese civilization, philosophy, and language that their own suffered a permanent arrest? What religious traits led them so to take on a religion from China and India that their own native religion never passed beyond the most primitive development, either in doctrine, in ethics, in ritual, or in organization? On the other hand, what mental characteristics enabled them to preserve their national independence and so to modify everything brought from abroad, from the words of the new language to the philosophy of the new religions, that Japanese civilization, language, and religion are markedly distinct from the Chinese? Why is it that, though the Japanese so fell under the bondage of the Chinese language as permanently to enslave and dwarf their own beautiful tongue, expressing the dominant thought of every sentence with characters (ideographs) borrowed from China, yet at the same time so transformed what they borrowed that no Chinaman can read and understand a Japanese book or newspaper?
The same questions recur at this new period of Japan's national life. Why has she so easily turned from the customs of centuries? What are the mental traits that have made her respond so differently from her neighbor to the environment of the nineteenth-century civilization of the West Why is it that Japan has sent thousands of her students to these Western lands to see and study and bring back all that is good in them, while China has remained in stolid self-satisfaction, seeing nothing good in the West and its ways? To affirm that the difference is due to the environment alone is impossible, for the environment seems to be essentially the same. This difference of attitude and action must be traced, it would seem, to differences of mental and temperamental characteristics. Those who seek to understand the secret of Japan's newly won power and reputation by looking simply at her newly acquired forms of government, her reconstructed national social structure, her recently constructed roads and railroads, telegraphs, representative government, etc., and especially at her army and navy organized on European models and armed with European weapons, are not unlike those who would discover the secret of human life by the study of anatomy.
This external view and this method of interpretation are, therefore, fundamentally erroneous. Never, perhaps, has the progress of a nation been so manifestly an evolution as distinguished from a revolution. No foreign conquerors have come in with their armies, crushing down the old and building up a new civilization. No magician's wand has been waved over the land to make the people forget the traditions of a thousand years and fall in with those of the new regime. No rite or incantation has been performed to charm the marvelous tree of civilization and cause it to take root and grow to such lofty proportions in an unprepared soil.
In contrast to the defective views outlined above, one need not hesitate to believe that the actual process by which Old Japan has been transformed into New Japan is perfectly natural and necessary. It has been a continuous growth; it is not the mere accumulation of external additions; it does not consist alone of the acquisition of the machinery and the institutions of the Occident. It is rather a development from within, based upon already existing ideas and institutions. New Japan is the consequence of her old endowment and her new environment. Her evolution has been in progress and can be traced for at least a millennium and a half, during which she has been preparing for this latest step. All that was necessary for its accomplishment was the new environment. The correctness of this view and the reasons for it will appear as we proceed in our study of Japanese characteristics. But we need to note at this point the danger, into which many fall, of ascribing to Japan an attainment of western civilization which the facts will not warrant. She has secured much, but by no means all, that the West has to give.
We may suggest our line of thought by asking what is the fundamental element of civilization? Does it consist in the manifold appliances that render life luxurious; the railroad, the telegraph, the post office, the manufactures, the infinite variety of mechanical and other conveniences? Or is it not rather the social and intellectual and ethical state of a people? Manifestly the latter. The tools indeed of civilization may be imported into a half-civilized, or barbarous country; such importation, however, does not render the country civilized, although it may assist greatly in the attainment of that result. Civilization being mental, social, and ethical, can arise only through the growth of the mind and character of the vast multitudes of a nation. Now has Japan imported only the tools of civilization? In other words, is her new civilization only external, formal, nominal, unreal? That she has imported much is true. Yet that her attainments and progress rest on her social, intellectual, and ethical development will become increasingly clear as we take up our successive chapters. Under the new environment of the past fifty years, this growth, particularly in intellectual, in industrial, and in political lines, has been exceedingly rapid as compared with the growths of other peoples.
This conception of the rise of New Japan will doubtless approve itself to every educated man who will allow his thought to rest upon the subject. For all human progress, all organic evolution, proceeds by the progressive modification of the old organs under new conditions. The modern locomotive did not spring complete from the mind of James Watt; it is the result of thousands of years of human experience and consequent evolution, beginning first perhaps with a rolling log, becoming a rude cart, and being gradually transformed by successive inventions until it has become one of the marvels of the nineteenth century. It is impossible for those who have attained the view-point of modern science to conceive of discontinuous progress; of continually rising types of being, of thought, or of moral life, in which the higher does not find its ground and root and thus an important part of its explanation, in the lower. Such is the case not only with reference: to biological evolution; it is especially true of social evolution. He who would understand the Japan of to-day cannot rest with the bare statement that her adoption of the tools and materials of Western civilization has given her her present power and place among the nations. The student with historical insight knows that it is impossible for one nation, off-hand, without preparation, to "adopt the civilization" of another.
The study of the evolution of Japan is one of unusual interest; first, because of the fact that Japan has experienced such unique changes in her environment. Her history brings into clear light some principles of evolution which the visual development of a people does not make so clear.
In the second place, New Japan is in a state of rapid growth. She is in a critical period, resembling a youth, just coming to manhood, when all the powers of growth are most vigorous. The latent qualities of body and mind and heart then burst forth with peculiar force. In the course of four or five short years the green boy develops into a refined and noble man; the thoughtless girl ripens into the full maturity of womanhood and of motherhood. These are the years of special interest to those who would observe nature in her time of most critical activity.
Not otherwise is it in the life of nations. There are times when their growth is phenomenally rapid; when their latent qualities are developed; when their growth can be watched with special ease and delight, because so rapid. The Renaissance was such a period in Europe. Modern art, science, and philosophy took their start with the awakening of the mind of Europe at that eventful and epochal period of her life. Such, I take it, is the condition of Japan to-day. She is "being born again"; undergoing her "renaissance." Her intellect, hitherto largely dormant, is but now awaking. Her ambition is equaled only by her self-reliance. Her self-confidence and amazing expectations have not yet been sobered by hard experience. Neither does she, nor do her critics, know how much she can or cannot do. She is in the first flush of her new-found powers; powers of mind and spirit, as well as of physical force. Her dreams are gorgeous with all the colors of the rainbow. Her efforts are sure, to be noble in proportion as her ambitions are high. The growth of the past half-century is only the beginning of what we may expect to see.
Then again, this latest and greatest step in the evolution of Japan has taken place at a time unparalleled for opportunities of observation, under the incandescent light of the nineteenth century, with its thousands of educated men to observe and record the facts, many of whom are active agents in the evolution in progress. Hundreds of papers and magazines, native and European, read by tens of thousands of intelligent men and women, have kept the world aware of the daily and hourly events. Telegraphic dispatches and letters by the million have passed between the far East and the West. It would seem as if the modernizing of Japan had been providentially delayed until the last half of the nineteenth century with its steam and electricity, annihilators of space and time, in order that her evolution might be studied with a minuteness impossible in any previous age, or by any previous generation. It is almost as if one were conducting an experiment in human evolution in his own laboratory, imposing the conditions and noting the results.
For still another reason is the evolution of New Japan of special interest to all intelligent persons. To illustrate great things by small, and human by physical, no one who has visited Geneva has failed to see the beautiful mingling of the Arve and the Rhone. The latter flowing from the calm Geneva lake is of delicate blue, pure and limpid. The former, running direct from the glaciers of Mont Blanc and the roaring bed of Chamouni, bears along in its rushing waters powdered rocks and loosened soil. These rivers, though joined in one bed, for hundreds of rods are quite distinct; the one, turbid; the other, clear as crystal; yet they press each against the other, now a little of the Rhone's clear current forces its way into the Arve, soon to be carried off, absorbed and discolored by the mass of muddy water around it. Now a little of the turbid Arve forces its way into the clear blue Rhone, to lose there its identity in the surrounding waters. The interchange goes on, increasing with the distance until, miles below, the two-rivers mingle as one. No longer is it the Arve or the old Rhone, but the new Rhone.
In Japan there is going on to-day a process unique in the history of the human race. Two streams of civilization, that of the far East and that of the far West, are beginning to flow in a single channel. These streams are exceedingly diverse, in social structure, in government, in moral ideals and standards, in religion, in psychological and metaphysical conceptions. Can they live together? Or is one going to drive out and annihilate the other? If so, which will be victor? Or is there to be modification of both? In other words, is there to be a new civilization—a Japanese, an Occidento-Oriental civilization?
The answer is plain to him who has eyes with which to see. Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? No more can Japan lose all trace of inherited customs of daily life, of habits of thought and language, products of a thousand years of training in Chinese literature, Buddhist doctrine, and Confucian ethics. That "the boy is father to the man" is true of a nation no less than of an individual. What a youth has been at home in his habits of thought, in his purpose and spirit and in their manifestation in action, will largely determine his after-life. In like manner the mental and moral history of Japan has so stamped certain characteristics on her language, on her thought, and above all on her temperament and character, that, however she may strive to Westernize herself, it is impossible for her to obliterate her Oriental features. She will inevitably and always remain Japanese.
Japan has already produced an Occidento-Oriental civilization. Time will serve progressively to Occidentalize it. But there is no reason for thinking that it will ever become wholly Occidentalized. A Westerner visiting Japan will always be impressed with its Oriental features, while an Asiatic will be impressed with its Occidental features. This progressive Occidentalization of Japan will take place according to the laws of social evolution, of which we must speak somewhat more fully in a later chapter.
An important question bearing on this problem is the precise nature of the characteristics differentiating the Occident and the Orient. What exactly do we mean when we say that the Japanese are Oriental and will always bear the marks of the Orient in their civilization, however much they may absorb from the West? The importance and difficulty of this question have led the writer to defer its consideration till toward the close of this work.
If one would gain adequate conception of the process now going on, the illustration already used of the mingling of two rivers needs to be supplemented by another, corresponding to a separate class of facts. Instead of the mingling of rivers, let us watch the confluence of two glaciers. What pressures! What grindings! What upheavals! What rendings! Such is the mingling of two civilizations. It is not smooth and Noiseless, but attended with pressure and pain. It is a collision in more ways than one. The unfortunates on whom the pressures of both currents are directed are often quite destroyed.
Comparison is often made between Japan and India. In both countries enormous social changes are taking place; in both, Eastern and Western civilizations are in contact and in conflict. The differences, however, are even more striking than the likenesses. Most conspicuous is the fact that whereas, in India, the changes in civilization are due almost wholly to the force and rule of the conquering race, in Japan these changes are spontaneous, attributable entirely to the desire and initiative of the native rulers. This difference is fundamental and vital. The evolution of society in India is to a large degree compulsory; in a true sense it is an artificial evolution. In Japan, on the other hand, evolution is natural. There has not been the slightest physical compulsion laid on her from without. With two rare exceptions, Japan has never heard the boom of foreign cannon carrying destruction to her people. During these years of change, there have been none but Japanese rulers, and such has been the case throughout the entire period of Japanese history. Their native rulers have introduced changes such as foreign rulers would hardly have ventured upon. The adoption of the Chinese language, literature, and religions from ten to twelve centuries ago, was not occasioned by a military occupancy of Japanese soil by invaders from China. It was due absolutely to the free choice of their versatile people, as free and voluntary as was the adoption by Rome of Greek literature and standards of learning. The modern choice of Western material civilization no doubt had elements of fear as motive power. But impulsion through a knowledge of conditions differs radically from compulsion exercised by a foreign military occupancy. India illustrates the latter; Japan, the former.
Japan and her people manifest amazing contrasts. Never, on the one hand, has a nation been so free from foreign military occupancy throughout a history covering more than fifteen centuries, and at the same time, been so influenced by and even subject to foreign psychical environment. What was the fact in ancient times is the fact to-day. The dominance of China and India has been largely displaced by that of Europe. Western literature, language, and science, and even customs, are being welcomed by Japan, and are working their inevitable effects. But it is all perfectly natural, perfectly spontaneous. The present choice by Japan of modern science and education and methods and principles of government and nineteenth-century literature and law,—in a word, of Occidental civilization,—is not due to any artificial pressure or military occupancy. But the choice and the consequent evolution are wholly due to the free act of the people. In this, as in several other respects, Japan reminds us of ancient Greece. Dr. Menzies, in his "History of Religion," says: "Greece was not conquered from the East, but stirred to new life by the communication of new ideas." Free choice has made Japan reject Chinese astronomy, surgery, medicine, and jurisprudence. The early choice to admit foreigners to Japan to trade may have been made entirely through fear, but is now accepted and justified by reason and choice.
The true explanation, therefore, of the recent and rapid rise of Japan to power and reputation, is to be found, not in the externals of her civilization, not in the pressure of foreign governments, but rather in the inherited mental and temperamental characteristics, reacting on the new and stimulating environment, and working along the lines of true evolution. Japan has not "jumped out of her skin," but a new vitality has given that skin a new color.
How many of the stories of the Kojiki (written in 712 A.D.) and Nihongi (720 A.D.) are to be accepted is still a matter of dispute among scholars. Certain it is, however, that Japanese early history is veiled in a mythology which seems to center about three prominent points: Kyushu, in the south; Yamato, in the east central, and Izumo in the west central region. This mythological history narrates the circumstances of the victory of the southern descendants of the gods over the two central regions. And it has been conjectured that these three centers represent three waves of migration that brought the ancestors of the present inhabitants of Japan to these shores. The supposition is that they came quite independently and began their conflicts only after long periods of residence and multiplication.
Though this early record is largely mythological, tradition shows us the progenitors of the modern Japanese people as conquerors from the west and south who drove the aborigines before them and gradually took possession of the entire land. That these conquerors were not all of the same stock is proved by the physical appearance of the Japanese to-day, and by their language. Through these the student traces an early mixture of races—the Malay, the Mongolian, and the Ural-Altaic. Whether the early crossing of these races bears vital relation to the plasticity of the Japanese is a question which tempts the scholar.
Primitive, inter-tribal conflicts of which we have no reliable records resulted in increasing intercourse. Victory was followed by federation. And through the development of a common language, of common customs and common ideas, the tribes were unified socially and psychically. Consciousness of this unity was emphasized by the age-long struggle against the Ainu, who were not completely conquered until the eighteenth century.
With the dawn of authentic history (500-600 A.D.) we find amalgamation of the conquering tribes, with, however, constantly recurring inter-clan and inter-family wars. Many of these continued for scores and even hundreds of years—proving that, in the modern sense, of the word, the Japanese were not yet a nation, though, through inter-marriage, through the adoption of important elements of civilization brought from China and India via Korea, through the nominal acceptance of the Emperor as the divinely appointed ruler of the land, they were, in race and in civilization, a fairly homogeneous people.
The national governmental system was materially affected by the need, throughout many centuries, of systematic methods of defense against the Ainu. The rise of the Shogunate dates back to 883 A.D., when the chief of the forces opposing the Ainu was appointed by the Emperor and bore the official title, "The Barbarian-expelling Generalissimo." This office developed in power until, some centuries later, it usurped in fact, if not in name, all the imperial prerogatives.
It is probable that the Chinese written language, literature, and ethical teachings of Confucius came to Japan from Korea after the Christian era. The oldest known Japanese writings (Japanese written with Chinese characters) date from the eighth century. In this period also Buddhism first came to Japan. For over a hundred years it made relatively little progress. But when at last in the ninth and tenth centuries native Japanese Buddhists popularized its doctrines and adopted into its theogony the deities of the aboriginal religion, now known as Shinto, Buddhism became the religion of the people, and filled the land with its great temples, praying priests, and gorgeous rituals.
Even in those early centuries the contact of Japan with her Oriental neighbors revealed certain traits of her character which have been conspicuous in recent times—great capacity for acquisition, and readiness to adopt freely from foreign nations. Her contact with China, at that time so far in advance of herself in every element of civilization, was in some respects disastrous to her original growth. Instead of working out the problems of thought and life for herself, she took what China and Korea had to give. The result was an arrest in the development of everything distinctively native. The native religion was so absorbed by Buddhism that for a thousand years it lost all self-consciousness. Indeed the modern clear demarcation between the native and the imported religions is a matter of only a few decades, due to the researches of native scholars during the latter part of the last and the early part of this century. Even now, multitudes of the common people know no difference between the various elements of the composite religion of which they are the heirs.
Moreover, early contact with China and her enormous literature checked the development of the native language and the growth of the native literature. The language suffered arrest because of the rapid introduction of Chinese terms for all the growing needs of thought and civilization. Modern Japanese is a compound of the original tongue and Japonicized Chinese. Native speculative thought likewise found little encouragement or stimulus to independent activity in the presence of the elaborate and in many respects profound philosophies brought from India and China.
From earliest times the government of Japan was essentially feudal. Powerful families and clans disputed and fought for leadership, and the political history of Japan revolves around the varying fortunes of these families. While the Imperial line is never lost to sight, it seldom rises to real power.
When, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Japan's conquering arm reached across the waters, to ravage the coast of China, to extend her influence as far south as Siam, and even to invade Korea with a large army in 1592, it looked as if she were well started on her career as a world-power. But that was not yet to be. The hegemony of her clans passed into the powerful and shrewd Tokugawa family, the policy of which was peace and national self-sufficiency.
The representatives of the Occidental nations (chiefly of Spain and Portugal) were banished. The Christian religion (Roman Catholic), which for over fifty years had enjoyed free access and had made great progress, was forbidden and stamped out, not without much bloodshed. Foreign travel and commerce were strictly interdicted. A particular school of Confucian ethics was adopted and taught as the state religion. Feudalism was systematically established and intentionally developed. Each and every man had his assigned and recognized place in the social fabric, and change was not easy. It is doubtful if any European country has ever given feudalism so long and thorough a trial. Never has feudalism attained so complete a development as it did in Japan under the Tokugawa regime of over 250 years.
During this period no influences came from other lands to disturb the natural development. With the exception of three ships a year from Holland, an occasional stray ship from other lands, and from fifteen to twenty Dutchmen isolated in a little island in the harbor of Nagasaki, Japan had no communication with foreign lands or alien peoples.
Of this period, extending to the middle of the present century, the ordinary visitor and even the resident have but a superficial knowledge. All the changes that have taken place in Japan, since the coming of Perry in 1854, are attributed by the easy-going tourist to the external pressure of foreign nations. But such travelers know nothing of the internal preparations that had been making for generations previous to the arrival of Perry. The tourist is quite ignorant of the line of Japanese scholars that had been undermining the authority of the military rulers, "the Tokugawa," in favor of the Imperial line which they had practically supplanted.
The casual student of Japan has been equally ignorant of the real mental and moral caliber of the Japanese. Dressed in clothing that appeared to us fantastic, and armed with cumbersome armor and old-fashioned guns, it was easy to jump to the conclusion that the people were essentially uncivilized. We did not know the intellectual discipline demanded of one, whether native or foreign, who would master the native language or the native systems of thought. We forgot that we appeared as grotesque and as barbarous to them as they to us, and that mental ability and moral worth are qualities that do not show on the surface of a nation's civilization. While they thought us to be "unclean," "dogs," "red-haired devils," we perhaps thought them to be clever savages, or at best half-civilized heathen, without moral perceptions or intellectual ability.
Of Old Japan little more needs to be said. Without external commerce, there was little need for internal trade; ships were small; roads were footpaths; education was limited to the samurai, or military class, retainers of the daimyo, "feudal lords"; inter-clan travel was limited and discouraged; Confucian ethics was the moral standard. From the beginning of the seventeenth century Christianity was forbidden by edict, and was popularly known as the "evil way"; Japan was thought to be especially sacred, and the coming of foreigners was supposed to pollute the land and to be the cause of physical evils. Education, as in China, was limited to the Chinese classics. Mathematics, general history, and science, in the modern sense, were of course wholly unknown. Guns and powder were brought from the West in the sixteenth century by Spaniards and Portuguese, but were never improved. Ship-building was the same in the middle of the nineteenth century as in the middle of the sixteenth, perhaps even less advanced. Architecture had received its great impulse from the introduction of Buddhism in the ninth and tenth centuries and had made no material improvement thereafter.
But while there was little progress in the external and mechanical elements of civilization, there was progress in other respects. During the "great peace," first arose great scholars. Culture became more general throughout the nation. Education was esteemed. The corrupt lives of the priests were condemned and an effort was made to reform life through the revival of a certain school of Confucian teachers known as "Shin-Gaku"—"Heart-Knowledge." Art also made progress, both pictorial and manual. It would almost seem as if modern artificers and painters had lost the skill of their forefathers of one or two hundred years ago.
Many reasons explain the continuance of the old political and social order: the lack of a foreign foe to compel abandonment of the tribal organisation; the mountainous nature of the country with its slow, primitive means of intercommunication; the absence of all idea of a completely centralized nation. Furthermore, the principle of complete subordination to superiors and ancestors had become so strong that individual innovations were practically impossible. Japan thus lacked the indispensable key to further progress, the principle of individualism. The final step in the development of her nationality has been taken, therefore, only in our own time.
Old Japan seemed absolutely committed to a thorough-going antagonism to everything foreign. New Japan seems committed to the opposite policy. What are the steps by which she has effected this apparent national reversal of attitude?
We should first note that the absolutism of the Tokugawa Shogunate served to arouse ever-growing opposition because of its stern repression of individual opinion. It not only forbade the Christian religion, but also all independent thought in religious philosophy and in politics. The particular form of Confucian moral philosophy which it held was forced on all public teachers of Confucianism. Dissent was not only heretical, but treasonable. Although, by its military absolutism, the Tokugawa rule secured the great blessing of peace, lasting over two hundred years, and although the curse of Japan for well-nigh a thousand preceding years had been fierce inter-tribal and inter-family wars and feuds, yet it secured that peace at the expense of individual liberty of thought and act. It thus gradually aroused against itself the opposition of many able minds. The enforced peace rendered it possible for these men to devote themselves to problems of thought and of history. Indeed, they had no other outlet for their energies. As they studied the history of the past and compared their results with the facts of the present, it gradually dawned on the minds of the scholars of the eighteenth century, that the Tokugawa family were exercising functions of government which had never been delegated to them; and that the Emperor was a poverty-stricken puppet in the hands of a family that had seized the military power and had gradually absorbed all the active functions of government, together with its revenues.
It is possible for us to see now that these early Japanese scholars idealized their ancient history, and assigned to the Emperor a place in ancient times which in all probability he has seldom held. But, however that may be, they thought their view correct, and held that the Emperor was being deprived of his rightful rule by the Tokugawa family.
These ideas, first formulated in secret by scholars, gradually filtered down, still in secrecy, and were accepted by a large number of the samurai, the military literati of the land. Their opposition to the actual rulers of the land, aroused by the individual-crushing absolutism of the Tokugawa rule, naturally allied itself to the religious sentiment of loyalty to the Emperor. Few Westerners can appreciate the full significance of this fact. Throughout the centuries loyalty to the Emperor has been considered a cardinal virtue. With one exception, according to the popular histories, no one ever acknowledged himself opposed to the Emperor. Every rebellion against the powers in actual possession made it the first aim to gain possession of the Emperor, and proclaim itself as fighting for him. When, therefore, the scholars announced that the existing government was in reality a usurpation and that the Emperor was robbed of his rightful powers, the latent antagonism to the Tokugawa rule began to find both intellectual and moral justification. It could and did appeal to the religious patriotism of the people. It is perhaps not too much to say that the overthrow of the Tokugawa family and the restoration of the Imperial rule to the Imperial family would have taken place even though there had been no interference of foreign nations, no extraneous influences. But equally certain is it that these antagonisms to the ruling family were crystallized, and the great internal changes hastened by the coming in of the aggressive foreign nations. How this external influence operated must and can be told in a few words.
When Admiral Perry negotiated his treaty with the Japanese, he supposed he was dealing with responsible representatives of the government. As was later learned, however, the Tokugawa rulers had not secured the formal assent of the Emperor to the treaty. The Tokugawa rulers and their counselors, quite as much as the clan-rulers, wished to keep the foreigners out of the country, but they realized their inability. The rulers of the clans, however, felt that the Tokugawa rulers had betrayed the land; they were, accordingly, in active opposition both to the foreigners and to the national rulers. When the foreigners requested the Japanese government, "the Tokugawa Shogunate," to carry out the treaties, it was unable to comply with the request because of the antagonism of the clan-rulers. When the clan-rulers demanded that the government annul the treaties and drive out the hated and much-feared foreigners, it found itself utterly unable to do so, because of the formidable naval power of the foreigners.
As a consequence of this state of affairs, a few serious collisions took place between the foreigners and the two-sworded samurai, retainers of the clan-rulers. The Tokugawa rulers apparently did their best to protect the foreigners, and, when there was no possible method of evasion, to execute the treaties they had made. But they could not control the clans already rebellious. A few murders of foreigners, followed by severe reprisals, and two bombardments of native towns by foreign gunboats, began to reveal to the military class at large that no individual or local action against the foreigners was at all to be thought of. The first step necessary was the unification of the Empire under the Imperial rule. This, however, could be done only by the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate; which was effected in 1867-68 after a short struggle, marked by great clemency.
We thus realize that the overthrow of the Shogunate as also the final abolishment of feudalism with its clans, lords, and hereditary rulers, and the establishment of those principles of political and personal centralization which lie at the foundation of real national unity, not only were hastened by, but in a marked degree dependent on, the stimulus and contribution of foreigners. They compelled a more complete Japanese unity than had existed before, for they demanded direct relations with the national head. And when treaty negotiations revealed the lack of such a head, they undertook to show its necessity by themselves punishing those local rulers who did not recognize the Tokugawa headship.
With the establishment of the Emperor on the throne, began the modern era in Japanese history, known in Japan as "Meiji"—"Enlightened Rule."
But not even yet was the purpose of the nation attained, namely, the expulsion of the polluters of the sacred soil of Japan. As soon as the new government was established and had turned its attention to foreign affairs, it found itself in as great a dilemma as had its predecessors, the Tokugawa rulers. For the foreign governments insisted that the treaties negotiated with the old government should be accepted in full by the new. It was soon as evident to the new rulers as it had been to the old that direct and forcible resistance to the foreigners was futile. Not by might were they to be overcome. Westerners had, however, supplied the ideals whereby national, political unity was to be secured. Mill's famous work on "Representative Government" was early translated, and read by all the thinking men of the day. These ideas were also keenly studied in their actual workings in the West. The consequence was that feudalism was utterly rejected and the new ideas, more or less modified, were speedily adopted, even down to the production of a constitution and the establishment of local representative assemblies and a national diet. In other words, the theories and practices of the West in regard to the political organization of the state supplied Japan with those new intellectual variations which were essential to the higher development of her own national unity.
A further point of importance is the fact that at the very time that the West applied this pressure and supplied Japan with these political ideals she also put within her reach the material instruments which would enable her to carry them into practice. I refer to steam locomotion by land and sea, the postal and telegraphic systems of communication, the steam printing press, the system of popular education, and the modern organization of the army and the navy. These instruments Japan made haste to acquire. But for these, the rapid transformation of Old Japan into New Japan would have been an exceedingly long and difficult process. The adoption of these tools of civilization by the central authority at once gave it an immense superiority over any local force. For it could communicate speedily with every part of the Empire, and enforce its decisions with a celerity and a decisiveness before unknown. It became once more the actual head of the nation.