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  3. 1st Unit : 4th Study Group Session

1st Unit : 4th Study Group Session

"How to Think about Japan: Loyalty and Filial Piety in Inoue Enryō"


      IRCP hosted a talk by Dr. Iwai Shougo on "How to Think about Japan: Loyalty and Filial Piety in Inoue Enryō" on October 31, 2012, at Hakusan Campus, Toyo University.

      Dr. Iwai's talk took up the question of whether Inoue repeated the same points throughout his career or if his position changed over the years. The answer in fact is a difficult one at which to arrive. For example, Dr. Iwai noted, in Funtō tetsugaku [Struggle with philosophy, 1917] Inoue took up his maxim, Gokoku airi ("defend the nation and love the truth"): "When I wrote Bukkyō katsu ron [Dynamic Buddhist faith], I called for gokoku airi. Scholars should on the one hand love the truth while on the other they should protect the country....[W]hat this meant in the final analysis was that love of the truth should be objective of their "ascending gate" (kōjōmon) and defending the nation should be seen as the real objective of their "descending gate" (kōgemon). However, after all the experiences I have accrued over several decades...I have discovered that love of truth is self-evident within defending the nation." These comments seem to confirm that an ideological or philosophical change of some sort took place. However, his seemingly new discovery of the idea that “love of truth is self-evident within defending the nation" can in fact already be found in Bukkyō katsuron joron [Prolegomenon to a dynamic Buddhist faith] from 1888. There, Inoue wrote: "I myself had put so-called love of the truth first and defending the nation second. However, given that the real purpose for that love of truth is simply the ardent wish to protect the nation, my jabbering on about the truth is simply due to everyone being filled with the spirit of defending the nation flowing to everyone outside."

      On this basis, Dr. Iwai in his presentation then explored the hypothesis that the issuance of the Imperial Rescript on Education (1891) might have been the turning point for an ideological or philosophical change. His focus then turned to an attempt to think through and explore various views on how thought changed around the time of the Rescript. Inoue’s works prior to the Rescript focused on the objective of revitalizing Buddhism. Toward that end, he worked to denounce Christianity. He invoked Herbert Spencer’s theory of social evolution for that purpose in turn and linked reviving Buddhism to Japan maintaining its independence. After the Rescript was issued, however, one sees him strongly pushing previously unseen arguments about chūko itchi ("the unity of loyalty and filiality"). Moreover, rather than arguing that such a unity of loyalty and filiality was an ideal that needed to be achieved, he instead took it as given and treated it as something that had already been achieved. The change in empahsis can be easily seen here, even if it stops short of a change in his thinking.

      Again, we see in Hayuibutsu ron [Materialism defeated, 1898] that he attempted to set limits on the applicability of theories of social evolution. "I cannot agree with the idea that beyond the domains of biology and the study of tangible things we can go so far as to treat standpoints when it comes to philosophy, the mind, society, morals, and religion with the guiding principle of evolution." However, in Katsu Bukkyō [Vital Buddhism, 1912] he wrote: "All living things develop: plants, animals, humans, and societies. Even things that cannot have life evolve; the heavenly bodies and Earth do so. Accordingly, even things like scholarship, the fine arts, the visual arts, and politics that are endemic to human society must inevitably develop and evolve." The strong influence of these theories can be seen, according to Dr. Iwai.