Is there a secret in the success of Japan as a present day industrial and commercial power? Is there something uniquely Japanese in the Modernity that obtains in Japan? Questions of this kind continue to be raised, sometimes even in the scholarly circles, but in India, we appear to be a long way off finding any answers to such questions. However, the availability of Professor Maruyama's works in English has the potential to change this picture.

The present essay is a review of Maruyama's Studies in the Intellectual History of Tokugawa Japan. This, book' originally written as essays during 1940-1944, aims at explaining the peculiar character of modernity in Japan, as viewed in the area of politics. Maruyama is of the opinion that there is something intrinsically Japanese which, so to speak, prevents Japan from functioning like a West European system of democracy and attempts to demonstrate that it is historically rooted in the consciousness of the Tokugawa period (cl600-1868).

His reconstruction of the intellectual history of the "premier" Japan centers around two key ideas; one is "the mode' of thought" as the totality of concepts functioning as intermediary, between the social base and the political reality. The other is the "logic of

By Maruyama Masao, Translated by. Mikiso Hane, Tokyo University Press 1974. This is the English translation of Professor Maruyama's work published in Japanese in 1951-52.-The treatise hearing appeared as essays in the journal Kokka'Gakkai Zasshi (Journal of the Association for Political Science) in 1940-44. Professor Maruyama was professor of political science in the University of Tokyo. His other work to appear] in English is Thought and Behavior in Modem Japanese Politics (London: Oxford University Press, 1963). Mikiso Hane, the translator, is a former student of Professor Maruyama invention" which provides the driving force for generation of ideas concerning transformation in social and political institutions. Confucianism of the Chu Hsi school (of China) is identified to be the mode of thought of the Tokugawa period This "mode of thought" emphasised the basic continuity between the Individual, Nature and God, premised ethics on the inner nature common to the living and the non-living, and regarded politics as a continuation of ethics. A significant development within this mode of thought is the emergence of Ogyu Sorai's school of thought, which advocated the idea of an "autonomous" ruler regulating politics through institutions. Such an "autonomous personality" was endowed with the capacity to invent institutions that would function as the intermediary between the social base and politics. Thus, Sorai's thought generated the potential to transform the Chu Hsi mode of thought, by delinking of the individual from Nature and ethics from politics. The "Sorai School Revolution", Maruyama points out, endowed the thought of the day with "the logic of invention" which ultimately undid the very model of thought that gave rise to it. Maruyama then concludes his account with a description of various trends in thought which arose in Japan when it was confronted with the threat of conquest by the West and relates them to the operation of logic of invention".

Maruyama's reconstruction of the Confucianism of the Tokugawa period simultaneously provides a perspective of Western thought, though indirectly. One of the points is regarding the role of ideas from the outside of a system in its transformation. Maruyama here repudiates the Western view that the idea must be from without, thus effectively challenging various versions of Hegelianism. Another point is his emphasis on, so to speak, the spiritual character of the change that took place in the West in the transition from "medievalism" to modernity, by a demonstration of severance of the link between Man, Nature and God and creation of an omnipotent God, which resulted in evolution of all-powerful personality (as the King). These points apart, Maruyama's method of reconstruction which traces the emergence of theory-governed politics from a state where political theory was "accidentally - governed" could well offer some insight into evolution of a method for examination of the idea systems of traditional societies.


Modernization in Japan has been the subject of much critical consideration in the years after the Second World War. With the emergence of Japan as a formidable commercial power in the seventies, many of the "underdeveloped" or Third World" countries have also evinced interest in the model of Japan for achieving rapid industrial and economic growth. But the scholarship on Japan is still confined to the West, especially to the United States, where an expedition-like scholarly program me has been kept going since the early sixties. This program me resulted in holding of six major conferences" in the sixties on modernization in Japan (with six volumes of papers published) and in the initiation of the Princeton Project on modernization in Japan, China and the USSR. We shall leave aside the criticism that is leveled at this program me that it was no more than the scholarly component of the U.S. foreign policy, aimed at protecting the post-Occupation Japan as the desirable model of modernization for all "developing" countries. Instead , we shall focus on one of the important conclusions that has emerged out of critical studies on Japan over the decades, namely, that the roots of modernization lay in the pre-modern order in Japan, viz. the Tokugawa period (cl600-1868) (1)*, which was characterized by a policy of "isolation" from international commerce.

Viewed in this context, the book under review is of great significance in dealing with the issue of emergence of a kind of consciousness in the Tokugawa period, which made the Japanese Society become receptive to modernization. Its significance further lies in the nature of the attempt, which is to trace the Philosophical roots of Japanese modernization! Not only as an analytical work on the history of ideas, but also by way of providing a methodology for analysis and comprehension of traditional ideas on polity and governance, this work is of importance in our own situation.

Professor Maryuama, according to the translator, is concerned with the mode of thinking and behavior that sustained the militaristic state in the pre-war Japan. One of his key theses, obtaining through a survey of his major treatises, is the ''absence in Japan of an axial intellectual system comparable to Christianity in the West.... The task facing the Japanese is the creation of an autonomous mind that can function as intermediary between reality and ideas. It would seek to objectify reality and, on the basis of a fixed standard of values, bring order to the complexities of the external world by a process of conceptualization and abstraction without relying upon] non-conceptualized, felt, or immediately apprehended truth as the guidepost of life, a tendency that is widespread in Japan. The task that the author has set for himself then is to work for the creation of this independent subject in Japan" (p.ix-x). Functionally, the existence of such an "independent subject" would help face up to modernity, and provide the frame of reference necessary to properly "sift, adopt, adapt and assimilate Western ideas" without allowing all sorts of theories and concepts to jostle each other in a helter-skelter fashion.

In the present work, Maruyama attempts to trace the emergence of such a Mind in the Tokugawa period in Japan, through a profound analysis of the Confucianism of those times. Many of the details analyzed by him, we are told, have been unearthed for the first time. This fact is particularly significant when viewed in terms of the framework he has created, highly original, though, as he modestly points out, inspired by the scholarly methodology of German thought, (in particular that of Karl Mannheim and, to a smaller extent, of Franz Borkenau, a Marxist of Pre-Nazi Germany). Notwithstanding these-sources of inspiration, Maruyama propounds a notion of the essence of modernity in terms of the 'division between the "natural" and the "social" order and the emergence of a "divided consciousness" a la Hegel. He uses the ideas thus developed to powerfully demonstrate how an "Oriental Polity", in this particular instance of "theocratic despotism'' (Hegel), lacking a theory of the* Right of Resistance, or an Oppositional Force outside its mode of thought, could nevertheless contain and sustain processes that lead to drastic transformations in itself.


Maruyama's principal achievements in his first treatise (titled The Sorai School: Its role in the -disintegration of Tokugawa Confucianism and its impact on National learning") are twofold: First is the identification of Chu Hsi Confucianism (2) as the mode of thou§\t underlying the Tokugawa polity, Second is the view of Ogyu Sorai (1666-1728), a Confucian philosopher, as the "discoverer of politics": based on a lucid interpretation of his outlook in terms of founding a separation between "the public" and "the private" realms, or abolition of a "continuative mode Of thought" (p.29).

The Chu Hsi mode of thought was ushered in by Confucians, prominent among them Hayashi Razan (1583-1657), the "official philosopher" of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) who founded the military administration (Bakufu) (1) of Edo (modern Tokyo). Ieyasu sought to encourage Confucianism, in particular the Chu Hsi philosophy, because, having "gained, political power by military force, [he felt] compelled to encourage learning and turn the people's minds away from violence and warfare in order to strengthen the foundations of his government" (p.16). For him Chu Hsi Confucianism was not only "an instrument of indoctrination" but also provided, with its emphasis on fundamental moral principles and the orthodox doctrines of the "sage-kings", necessary political legitimacy.

The Chu Hsi mode of thought derived its power as a political instrument by postulating an "original nature" for all beings. The "inner nature", when masked by "specific ether", clear or turbid, appears or fails to appear in entirety and men grow wise or foolish accordingly. Turbidity in specific ether gives rise to human desires, which conceal and obstruct the original nature and produce human evil. The sage has pure and clear specific ether, is, therefore, free of desires and his original nature appears in its entirety. Anyone who could remove the turbid and impure tendencies from his specific ether will be able to restore his original nature. Thus, every man has the potential of becoming a sage. The way of achieving this, the foundation of Chu Hsi practical ethics, is twofold: the subjective approach of "preserving one's heart" and "holding fast to seriousness", basically introspection; and the objective approach of "the extension of knowledge through investigation of things" or learning. In simpler terms, the way of achieving the "return to the Principle of Heaven" was through virtuous conduct and learning. Restoration of the inherent principle, the "original Nature", becomes the basis for movement or conduct of all "things" (nature as well as human), linking ethical sphere with the natural. Thus ethics becomes a continuation of nature, Drinking up "things and human beings, ordinary men and sages, intellect and virtue, virtue and government" (p.29) - the last by linking virtuous conduct with order in the state.

Central to this organization of linkages was the optimism that every man is a potential sage. Once conditions were created such that this optimism could no longer be preserved, the various linkages fell apart, giving rise to a more "divided consciousness". The Tokugawa period followed turbulent years of warfare and instability and an optimism of the kind advocated by the Chu Hsi philosophy suited a situation of social stability that obtained in the earlier part of the Tokugawa rule. Once various kinds of uncertainty arose in the society, linkages such as the one linking personal morality with order in the state came to be questioned and never thought arose to dissolve the Chu Hsi system. Among the critics of the Chu Hsi thought were Yamaha Soko (1622-1685), who sought to purge the contemplative character of Chu Hsi "investigation of things" by emphasising the material aspect. Ito Jinsai (£627-1705), on the other hand, considered nature of things as something not to be inquired into but only to be obeyed like a "prince" and sought to build a scheme of practical ethics free from nature.

But it was Ogyu Sorai (1666-1728), in Maruyama's opinion, who brought about a fundamental change in the mode of thought, totally separating the political, the public from the individual, the private". He developed the theory that the way had been founded by the Sages, who were identified with legendary - Chinese Kings who (in the third millennium B.C) had invented the modes .of production (agriculture, sericulture, fishing etc.). The Vay of Heaven" (ie events relating to sky and the like) was treated to be beyond human inquiry and the only concern was with the "Ways of Sages" which was what had brought prosperity and order in ,the world. Thus, Sorai drastically transferred the Chu Hsi mode of thought by totally _dissociating "the Way" from nature. But this crucial contribution lay further in "histprirising the way by its identification with rulers who existed. Thus, however much one "studies" or "exhaustively investigates the nature of things", one could not become a sage. The optimism of the earlier theory is effectively annulled. Another important outcome of Sorai's thought was the view that the sages were sages only because they "invented" enterprises. The capacity of "invention" by "autonomous personality", postulated by Sorai is, in Maruyama's opinion, the most crucial step in separating "the public" from "the private". How was this achieved? Because Sorai believed that the control of heart" was to achieved not just by learning or introspective contemplation but through meticulous performance of "rites", which were invented by the sages, and which ought to be updated in each era. Thus, through this philosophy, it became possible to conceive' of an "objective" institution of control, quite different from the "natural" institutions in j the sense of the Chu Hsi school In this manner, Sorai founded, entirely within the framework of Confucianism, a school of thought that emphasised the role of "autonomous invention" ie. independent of subjectivities, as a method to "control the heart".

Endowed: with such a view,'Sorai exerted tremendous influence in formulating proposals for reform under Shogun Yoshimune (1684-1751), who is known for his Kyoho Reforms. This part, the socio-political part, of Sorai's work, is quite well known apparently, attracting' the attention of many Western scholars in the recent past. One of Sorai's major proposals was the establishment of a bureaucracy whose members were to be "men of learning".' This proposal, Maruyama explains, is a direct outcome of Sorai's view that, the inner nature of man being immutable, it could only be "moved" or cultivated. Further, his suggestion to institute regulations to strengthen the economy, was also founded on his principle that "the way" being "a product of human beings, the sages.... institutional changes [must depend] on human decisions" (p.132).

Maruyama then goes on to show that while "the public side" of Sorai's thought was inherited by bis disciples, the private side", the litrary-artistic aspect, was inherited by a system of thought called "the National Learning" (kokugaku), developed to fullest extent by Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801). Norinaga was often quite critical of Confucianism in general, of which Sorai was "the last" major proponent. But in establishing his own system, identified as "the Ancient Way", Norinaga employed the very methodology of Sorai. When he advocated a pristine Shinto, Norinaga made the gods of Shinto identical with the Imperial rulers of Japan, thus "humanizing" the gods. Secondly, he rejected any kind of an ethically guided development of literature or art, arguing that, as expressions of human emotions and feelings, they should not be put under moralistic regulations of the type inherent in Chu Hsi (or, Confucian) philosophy. Further, as for governance, he maintained indifference founded on the idea that the gods of Japan had always ordained the rulers. Norinaga's views played the important role of "freeing" Shinto from the influence of Confucianism, with which the former had to arrive at a compromise during the Tokugawa period. But the most significant commonality in methodology between Sorai and Norinaga, although radically different in outlook, is the notion that the Founders were human beings, raised to the level of "otherworldly" or autonomous personalities.

In tracing the emergence of a "modern" consciousness in Japan, Maruyama has chosen to deal only with the "methods of thought" rather than with antagonistic tendencies in political thought. For example, all the thinkers, who are cited as having brought about a revolution in the "method of thought", were least concerned with a change in the government. Maruyama's opinion in this respect deserves to be quoted in extensor:

"[The approach based on antagonistic tendencies in politics] might be the valid method of examination of modern European thought, where changes in the fundamental mode of though! nave occurred more or less in parallel with changes in the political thought based on them. But it cannot be applied in the same way to Japan... only arbitrary results could be obtained by looking for evidence of a modern consciousness in political theory that was governed largely by accidental conditions and lacked any connection with the basic mode of thought" (p.178).


"My object has not been to present a comprehensive history of the development of modern thought in the Tokugawa period. Even scholars extremely distinguished as individuals and highly modern in their outlook have been excluded from consideration if they happen to have been largely isolated from the general framework of intellectual development [thus excluding scholars of Dutch learning}... I have adopted this approach in the belief that, insofar as Confucianism was the most powerful form of consciousness in the feudal society, an analysis of its rather unexpected disintegration from within, rather than of its destruction from without, would demonstrate most effectively that Japanese thought in the Tokugawa period did not merely "maintain itself in a vacuum", in other words, it would illustrate its developmental character. In essence, the "dual" character inherent in "modern" Japan, that is, its backwardness [and] its nevertheless non-static character, [has] determined the methodology that I have adopted" (pp.178-179).

This lucid explanation has still not revealed the achievement of Maruyama's implicit thesis that the "objective character" of things studied is not the same as one ingrained in the natural sciences. The power of his approach, quite different and even opposed to those of Western historians of Eastern Asia (Joseph Needham, for example), who seem to view the traditional societies only in terms of modern categories of "the objective", is further revealed in his account of how "the logic of invention" espoused by Sorai and Norinaga, led to* institutional enterprise in the later Tokugawa period, now confronted with the threat of conquest by the Western powers.


In the first treatise of this book, the author has traced the disintegration of the Tokugawa Confucianism, while the second treatise "Nature and invention in Tokugawa thought: contrasting institutional views", analyses how the "logic of invention founded by Sorai, initiated a transformation j in the scope of scholarship and learning, changing their main concern from the study of classics to examination of social reality. The analysis is rich in details, [and contains hints from the works of German sociologists, Ferdinand Toniest in particular with his theory’ of Geminschaft and Gesselschaft. The central argument is that, once Sorai developed his J theory of invention of institutions by sage-kings, the logic of invention contained therein, with emphasis on governance by "invention free from normative order", led to J theories that started to contest the very foundation of the Tokugawa rule, founded as it was on a mode of thought based on natural order. Many of the later thinkers, while criticizing the Tokugawa feudal order and Sorai as the proponent of pristine feudalism, nevertheless employed the "logic of invention" in building up their criticisms. (Further the logic of invention, by endowing the ruler to govern as he pleases, also seems to contain the germ of the nationalism of the Meiji period, centering around the "revere the Emperor" (Son no) doctrine.

The Chu Hsi philosophy in the early Tokugawa period, a period of ascendancy and stability,’ used the principles of Five Virtues and Five Relationships (5) as the intermediary between the social reality and the Rule. Since these principles were held to be not only human laws but laws of universe (principle of Heaven) as well, the system of

* The translator's note: on the word 'invention' is worth reproducing here: "Sorai's term sakui means, as a concrete noun, something like 'artifact'. However it does not have the pejorative connotation that the adjectival form 'artificial' has attained in English. It is therefore often translated as 'creation'. But in both its religious and aesthetic uses, 'creation' has implications of spontaneity and naturalness that makes it impossible to oppose it to 'nature' as Sorai and Professor Maruyama do. Hence I have chosen 'invention' (its adjectival forms, compounds, and so on). The reader should bear in mind, however, that sakui certainly does not mean 'thinking up an' institution, as 'invention' can in English, it definitely implies constructing, putting into practice" (pp 191-92).

governance was not only a political order but a natural order as well. As Maruyama observes:

"Certainly the justification of a given political and social order in terms of natural law should provide a most powerful guarantee for the immutability of that system. But the very fact that it is the most powerful guarantee possible restricts the range of its ability uphold any existing order. Paradoxical though it may seem, if the people living under a certain social order are to accept it as a natural order, it must look like the natural as far as they are concerned. Once the political stability has been noticeably undermined and social disorder is in evidence, the justification of the basic standards of the society by natural law ceases to be generally acceptable" (p.206).

In the period preceding the time of Kyoho Reforms of Shogun Yoshimune, the signs of decay had become visible. Sorai, who had held the opinion that the Chu Hsi philosophy was already too far removed from reality, found it further obstructing what he called the "reconstruction of institutions" necessary to restore stability in society. Essentially with such a view did he develop the theory that the "institutions" or, the "rites" ("to control the heart") as he held them, were invented by sage-kings, who were legendary emperors. Since they invented "the way" "out of nothing", its origin did not have to be traced back beyond them, thus shifting the natural origin (6) of the order to an historical one. The institutions they had invented, had been conceived of "in their profound and comprehensive wisdom... in harmony with human nature". Once such a relationship was absolutes (as the only characteristic of a Sage to be an inventor of institutions for the benefit of the population), this, as a logical connection, tended to be applied to the relationship between political rulers and institutions of all ages, not just to that of antiquity (p.217). Thus, Sorai's method effectively shifted the concept of social order as obtaining in an abstract, fixed idea to one "autonomously invented" by the ruler of each age. Along this fine, Sorai's theory covered "rites" as the method to "control the heart" and the duty of the ruler to promote them, to developing "regulative institutions" to counter the politico-economic crisis confronted by Shogun Yoshimune (to whom Sorai was an advisor).

Through a very profound analysis of the effect of the transition from Nature (Chu Hsi) to Invention (Sorai), Maruyama demonstrates that Power is shifted into the autonomous personality. Drawing upon the German scholarship on the rise of political absolutism in late medieval and early modern Europe, he brilliantly outlines the process whereby God was replaced by the Sovereign of absolute authority, which, simultaneously, changes the broad characteristic of social relationships from one of "kinship" to "contract". This profound analysis of the Western experience helps him draw parallels in the Japanese situation. The parallel that should interest us most is that, in both cases, the transformation is one of spirit. That is, there is a movement from a total identification of man with the natural, in continuity with the supernatural, God, to one of total separation between man, nature and the sovereign completely "autonomous" from both man and nature.

The emergence of ”logic of invention", opposed to the theories of natural order, influenced the thought of many of the later thinkers. Ando Shoeki, adopting Sorai's method, advocated rejection of the 'federal' order built up by the Tokugawa Bakufu, because this was order based on "inventions" of sages who reveled in "gluttonous consumption’ far removed from the tillers of the soil" and proposed a return to a state of natural order obtaining prior to such inventions. Motoori Norinaga, Chief proponent of the school of "National Learning", identified socio-political order of antiquity with invention of the ancient Gods and, proceeding from this basis, concluded that the institution-building rulers of Japan had been ordained by Gods to invent enterprises suitable to various times. Thus, Norinaga, adopting the logic of invention, maintained a studied indifference to the justification of Tokugawa order.

But the most forceful proponents of the "logic of invention" arose when Japan was threatened by the Western powers, Russia in the North and Britain in the South, during the latter-half of the Tokugawa' period. During, this period, weakened in its theoretical foundation by ‘the emergence of the Sorai School and the National learning, the Tokugawa authority had to face real forces in the interior, threatening to undermine it. In this situation, thej Bakufu tightened its controls further on the development of any oppositional intellectual movement and issued various decrees aimed at establishment of "thought control". It was also the period that- witnessed the appearance of thinkers such as Yamagata Daini (1725-1767), who, stressing the positive role of "autonomous invention", argued for a radical reconstruction of institutions but not by the Shogun but by the Emperor. The Bakufu reacted by executing Daini and exiling some others.

Around the same period, scholars influenced by "Dutch learning" (Rangaku) propagated their theory that no sound institutions had been established since the time of Ieyasu, the founder of Tokugawa Bakufu. These scholars, exposed to the knowledge of the Western world and the building international tension caused by the "expansion" of Western powers overseas, overstepped the bounds of the 'feudal* society in their theories of institutional reform. Honda] Toshiaki (1744-1821) pointed out the emergence of a wealthy merchant class in Japan and, advocated the takeover of commerce and trade by the Central Authority, to redistribute wealth into the niling military classes, through management of shipping, transport and initiation1 of overseas trade. His exposure to geography from Dutch learning had convinced him that "there are no oceans in the great world without British territories" (p.287); but England itself was basically "an isolated island and very cold... a wasteland, poor in national production and with nothing of value", yet a great power only because of "its institutions and teachings". Japan, comparatively lacked the system of developing enterprises'" (such as colonization and overseas trade) and was bound to suffer international disgrace by allowing conquest of its parts by Western powers. Sato Nobuhiro (1769-1850) went even further in identifying the way of the sage-kings with | promotion of arts of land-management, increase in production etc., (kaibutsu) and, envisioning" the end of a historical epoch at hand" and harried by a sense of an impending "world revolution" devised a plan for the establishment of a national political organization (p.291); this was to nave "three departments, six ministries and five bureaus by which the functions' of production, distribution and currency to be concentrated in the Central government, while the state was to be responsible for the care of the poor land the education of the people". Such a system, which Nobuhiro called the "social control" (suitoho), once j established, would enable Japan to fulfill the "great duty of "fusing" together the nations of the entire globe.tuming them into Japanese countries and prefectures, and transforming "all the rules of the world" into Japanese subjects" (p.293). Further, Nobuhiro remarked:

"The institutions of Chou and Tang governed the people by dividing them into four branches: gentlemen-scholars peasants, artisans, and merchants. I have reflected over the matter carefully and concluded that the four-people system leaves some areas untouched by the government and hinders the perfecting of the many industries... Thus, in order to conduct the affairs of Government, a matter within the purview of heaven, we should, after considering the activities of all men, reclassify and group together those engaged in similar work and divide the industries of the world into eight categories: thus there would be people engaged in cultivation, forestry, mining, manufacturing, trading, hired lab our shipping and fishing. The people classified into these eight groups would be assigned to the six ministries. They will be strictly prohibited by law from engaging in any other occupation" (p.299).

This is the state of mind that the logic of invention developed into.

The belief in a natural order continued to persist even through the late-Tokugawa thinkers and its total supersession was possible only after the 'development of resources' by means of industries became a reality. The industry, in contrast with agriculture, has "a fundamental link" with "autonomous human invention" (p.302). Even as late as 1830's opinion was prevalent to the effect that" the various countries of the West concentrate on machines and remarkable arts. Because of this the Chinese people seem to conclude that foreigners are especially shrewd and intelligent. But this is foolish. To employ all one's intellectual faculties and deliberations for the manufacture of useless utensils and to invent trivial crafts... are matters motivated by caprice. They should be intensely despised" (Nakamura Seisho, quoted on p.302). The lack of development of an industrial structure thus resulted in "stagnation" in the progress of the notion of autonomous invention.

But the more serious obstruction to this notion appeared in the form of continuing faith in the Bakufu system. Practically all leading thinkers (until the 1850's) continued to believe that the 'hierarchically divided' society of Tokugawa Japan represented by its military ruling class would act as the motive force in reconstruction of institutions. The common people in their schemes could at best expect only a 'promotion' from the system of four classes to a six-ministry system (see Nobuhiro's statement above). This was true with both the schools of thought (that arose in the period preceding the downfall of the Bakufu, the Bakumatsu), the Son no (revere the Emperor) as well as the Jot (repel the barbarian) schools. Following the Meiji Restoration (1868) and the rapid dissolution of the feudal' system of estates and fiefs, the theory of invention, unopposed as it became by a theory of natural order subscribing to feudalism, did rise to the level of an axial idea in various debates concerning granting of popular rights. But within a short time the natural order doctrines were invoked to justify the concentration of every kind of power in the state that was moving towards militarization. In the words of Maruyama:

Apparently on the verge of recapturing his freedom as an autonomous personality with respect to social order, having eliminated the restrictions of the

estate system in the Meiji Restoration, man was to be swallowed up again by the new Leviathan, the Meiji state. Just as the theory of invention came to the end of its long and painful journey and was about to enjoy success, it suddenly found it still had a thorny path ahead of it. This was the fate that awaited all modern elements in Japan. Just as the thought of the Tokugawa period was not feudalistic from first to' last, never in the Meiji era was it completely bourgeois and modern" (p319).

Marijuana concludes the previous treatise, too, in a similar vein, emphasizing the "backward" character of modernity in Japan. This, as he explains in his "introduction" to the English edition, was partly so because, writing in the 40*s he was attempting a criticism of the view, held by dominant sections of intelligentsia in Japan, that "modernity must be overcome" (kvuuri no chokoku). In his work, therefore, he attempted to show that even the [pre-Meiji Japan had elements of modernity, only that the transformation of the Japanese society in the 1940*5 into a modern system was not "complete". While this was the context and the motivation, Maruyama's work on historiography of ideas does demonstrate that it was adoption of a spiritual transformation, in the sense of alteration of relationships between man, nature and divinity, which endowed the Japanese polity capable of countering modernity. This change of spirit, very much rooted in the Japanese tradition of "thought", appears to endow Japan's modernity with characteristics that are not truly modern'.


In the last treatise in this book the pre-modern formation of nationalism", Maruyama advances a new notion of nationalism and national consciousness and uses this in his description of the emergence of a powerful nationalist thinking in Japan in the late Tokuwaga period. This treatise, incomplete because the author had been enlisted and dragged off to Korea to participate in the War (1944), seems to point out that the nationalism based on a "glorious tradition" of "our land of Gods" did not do as well’ in countering foreign threats as the kind of nationalism founded upon the theory of autonomous invention. Given that there exists a wide variety of beliefs regarding the contemporary supremacy and hegemony of the Judeo-Christian system, which centre around the Judaic notion of "chosen people", Maruyama's analysis of the "pre-modem" nationalism in Japan offers considerable insight.

Primary to a discussion of nationalism is the distinction between existence of a people as a "cultural nation" and as a "political nation". Only when a cultural nation is forced to defend its cultural unity is "its existence [immediately] raised to the political level, and it is faced with' the necessity of! forming a common state unit" (p.324). Thus "national conervousness, consciousness insofar as it is self-awareness, sooner or later congeals into a political unify...! By their very nature, the tenets of nationalism must of necessity is unique for each nation". Further

“It is clear that the nation as a political category and nationalism as the nation asserting itself are products of a given historical stage... [The] instinctive love of homeland may be the source of national consciousness it cannot function directly as the force that creates a political nation. A love of one's homeland is in effect the love of one's surroundings... [The] state environment, which is abstract to some degree, naturally evokes less sense of intimacy than the immediate surroundings of the village or the family. As a result, in some instances, love of the surroundings impedes rather than fosters national consciousness. In such cases, modern nationalism can make headway only by removing the traditional love of the homelands.

On the other hand, even if a state system encompassing the entire nation exists, this does not automatically and inevitably give rise to an awareness of the political unity in the nation. When the internal structure of the system prevents the people from congealing politically into a state, the state system will fail to grasp them from the inside, and the great majority of the people will continue to exist in a natural, impersonal (vegetative) fashion. In such a situation nationalism seeks above all to eliminate the force or structure that intervenes between the nation and the state, preventing the direct union of the two. At any rate, the fact that nationalism is willing to risk contradictions and collisions with the traditional mode of existence in the interests of its own development indicates that a political national consciousness is not a natural, self-generating entity; its growth is dependent on certain historical development, a nation is spurred by some external stimulus and more or less consciously transforms itself from simple dependence on the surroundings into a political nation. Ordinarily the external stimulus that induces this decision to change in some foreign power, some external threat" (pp325-26).

Thus, despite the existence of an idea in people's mind that Japan was the Land of Gods and a sense of "racial self-confidence" based on the uniqueness of Japanese state system, a sense of national solidarity, as in the sense described above, did not develop in the Tokugawa Japan. This was because the "internal social conditions" (Le the unity of people) were not developed nor was the threat of foreign conquest significant But following the consolidation of the Western powers around Japan during the Bakumatsu period (see above)-not "an accidental, passing event, but rather the consequence of the historical necessity that the world market then being formed absorb the last remaining areas outside it" - forced the issue of national unity and independence. The obstacle to a union between the state and the nation was the Tokugawa system itself (p327).

Based on a tight division of the society into two classes namely, the ruling military class and the common people (merchants, peasants and artisans) the Bakufu had devised an elaborate system of control which effectively prevented communication and interaction between various regions and people and treated them as "no more than objects of political control". Raising the issue of "the barbarian menace" was treated as an attempt to bring about instability in the society. Thus, when Takashhna Shuhan (1798-1866), an authority on gunnery, pointed out the fact that there is not enough gunpowder in the country to fight a war for even one year... [Once we get involved in a war] it will probably last for at least four or five years. In that case, not only will there be a shortage of nitrate, but there is also the problem of food supplies. I have heard that there is probably no lord with as much as three years' supply of arms and food",

and stressed the need, to urgently modernize gunnery, he was imprisoned. There were others, among them Sakum'a Zozan (1793-1841), who proposed a "careful study of the conditions' of the enemy". Zozan attempted to publish a Japanese-Dutch dictionary, because, he argued’

To drive off the barbarians, the first thing that must be done is to understand their ways. To understand their ways, the most important thing is to become familiar with their language... (p335).

But the powerful men of the Bakufu continued with their "frog-in-a-weU" (p336) outlook and rejected the suggestions to modernize the military and to take the "barbarian menace" seriously. this trend of anti-foreigners (joy) resulted in various theories on how to "expel the barbarian", most of which arose out of the fear that this problem would bring to surface1 the internal weaknesses.

The Bakufu ultimately gave1 in to the Western Powers' demand to open the ports of Japan for j "trade" and, starting with the United States in 1853, entered into treaties with the Dutch, the British and the Russians. Despite this demonstration of weakness, there appeared in the earlier period several theories that would foster the spirit of nationalism. One of them is the Son no '("revere the Emperor") theory, which at the time of Meiji Restoration became the theory ikkun banmin ("one prince, all the people"). But the intellectual movement from these theories to the "authentic" nationalism of the Meiji period was "extremely complex". Besides the sonno theory, Honda Toshiaki and Sato Nobuhiro propagated the theory of fiikoku kyohei ("enrich the nation, strengthen the military) based on the ideas of "day Nippon koku" (the Great Japanese Nation) and "kokoku" (the Imperial Country). This theory centered on the notion of a central authority, complemented by j the awareness of "Dutch Learning" and: colored by the recognition that the East had fallen behind the West. Their theory of "national defense was opposed to a policy of national seclusion, favored positive measures such as foreign trade and (the colonization of overseas areas, and culminated in Nobuhiro's Udai kondo ("fusion of the entire world"), that is, international unification" (p.347). Emphasizing that "even the king of Holland indulged in trade for profit" they advocated enrichment of nation by overseas trade, increase in production and development of resources. "By such a policy, they hoped to transform Japan into the richest and strongest nation of the world" (Toshiaki) or "the supreme nation of the world" (Nobuhiro)" (p347). Their plans for reconstitution involved a transcendental ruler (the Emperor), dissolution of multiple political authority and limit on the sizes of estates of the lords. The ultimate object of the plan was to enable the sovereign "to manipulate the nation as if it were his hands and feet". Thus this theory ultimately gave birth to some kind of Son no.

There arose in these times a joy position that also called for kaikoku ("opening the ports"). This was in contrast with jot theories which favored simultaneously the seclusion of the nation. Ultimately, the theory of Sonno-joi emerged, propakufu or favoring the Imperial rule, depending upon whether they supported continuation of feudalism. Yoshida Shoin (1830-1859) advocated the theory that "the public" should be made free to discuss domestic and foreign policy matters, was critical of the Bakufu for closing down communications between the rulers and the subjects and called for some kind of ikkun banmin. This, he felt, was necessary to protect Japan from foreign powers. These theories slowly forced the move towards liquidation of the Bakufu which took place in 1868. The Meiji Restoration that followed put into effect political reforms "under the leadership of extremist court nobles, lower-class samurai, and some elements from the upper strata of the common people. [The] political pattern that emerged was an alliance of the most powerful Hon under the leadership of the imperial court. This was the immediate concrete result of the movement for public discussion and voicing of public opinion. Of course, this government cannot be regarded as a mere continuation or variation of the feudal, pluralistic political pattern.... In the continuing presence of external pressures, what Fukuzawa Yukichi called "the implantation of the concept 'nation' became the urgent task of the Meiji thinkers" (pJ367). Thus, finally 'the state' and "the nation" had been unified.


"Studies in the intellectual history of Tokugawa Japan" is a work rich in details ambitious in scope and highly original in its approach. Attempting a summary of it in a few pages is a difficult task and we have only highlighted certain aspects that should be of interest to scholars concerned with the continuing impact of the West on Indian society. The most significant contribution of Maruyama is his attempt to create a methodology that would capture the dynamics of traditional in societies, the continuity and changes in their institutions. The concept of "a mode of thought" in traditional societies, the sharp contrast with the notion of conflicting ideologies, as the carrier for ideas on social reconstruction, is a concept of power, capable of 'forcing* insight into the dynamics of traditional systems. With this concept, Maruyama has contested the notion that in a dynamic or, better, a non-static system of ideas, the "oppositional" tendency must appear entirely from the outside. This notion, derived from concepts of Western theories of governance, has been challenged by Maruyama's demonstration that, within Tokuugawa thought, there arose a theory, the Sorai thought, which through "inheritances" later, led to dissolution of Tokugawa though itself. Secondly, the "autonomous character" of a system need not be identical with its stress on the kind of empiricisms enshrined in the natural sciences: "autonomy" is itself relative, possessing meaning only in the context of a particular system of governance. This is brought out in the examination of Sorai's thought, wherein "objective institutions" are identified with "rites and music".

In addition to serving as an excellent description of history of ideas in the pre-modern Japan, Maruyama's work is of considerable importance in terms of the methodological stimuli, such as those discussed above, that it provides. Perhaps such a methodology should serve the purposes of construction of a historiography of Indian ideas on polity and governance, even in the contemporary period. With this method, one is likely to make sense out of "myriad" Indian texts on Dharmasastras and Smritis, enabling a radical reevaluation. (7). Just as Maruyama's "frame of reference" led him to unearth inaccessible material on Japanese Confucianism, adoption of a similar frame might also" help unearth new material on Indian Polity!

Japan in the present day, with its formidable commercial and technological power, has come to attract attention even from the "developing countries". The "adaptively" of the Japanese to modernity has been highly spoken of and even wondered at. But the precise character of modernity in Japan seems to have remained elusive, even mysterious. Maruyama's work demonstrates that it was only because the Japanese transformed the governance that they were able to "take on" the west. If at least this impression is conveyed, this review would have served some purpose.

Author:Oppilla Mani


(1) The Tokugawa Shogunate was founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-16) in 1607. The , Shoguns of the Tokugawa family, as de facto rulers, held their capital at Edo (modern Tokyo) while the imperial Court functioned from Kyoto. The Tokugawa government was a military government called the Bakufu. In principle, the Shogun was only one of the many davnyo, who held fiefs called nans but in reality he exercised considerable power over the daimyo. Tokugawa Ieyasu took the title of Shogun the meaning ("Barbarian subduing generallissimo") after he had ended the civil strife J in the country. The end of Tokugawa rule was brought about by the "restoration" of the Emperor as the sovereign ruler of people, dissociated from intermediary powers, in 1868j (the Meiji Restoration). Ieyasu was later deified and worshipped as "Gongen" in the Shinto.

(2) Chu Hsi philosophy originated in Sung philosophy, which was developed by Chou Lien-Hsi and by the Chinese" "Ch'eng Brothers". Chu Hsi (1130-1200) adopted the Cheng interpretation that the "Supreme ultimate" is the principle of all things "in Heaven and Earth". This was to serve as cornerstone in building a theory of "natural Order" by Hayashi Ryazan, the official philosopher of Ieyasu. As such, the line extending from Chou Lien-Hsi to Chu Hsi (called the Chu Hsi School by Maruyama) is a trend within Confucianism.

(3) "Shinto" is not easy to define but may be broadly understood as the worship of gods, demons and spirits, perhaps similar to the non-agamid religion in India. There were various trends in Shinto, depending upon the Hon or the schools of philosophy they had affiliation with. As "national faith" Shinto had 'compromised' with Buddhism prior to Tokugawa period, while during the 'feudal' period, attempts were made by Yamazalri Ansai (1618-1682) a "revisionist" Confucian thinker of eminence, to work out an integration of Shinto and Confucianism.

(4) "Dutch Learning" or Rangaku was associated with the knowledge imparted through the Dutch commercial mission at Nagasaki. Following incurisions of Portuguese and Spaniards from the Southern seas and conversion of a number of Japanese to Christianity in the 16th century, the Tokugawa administration drove away the Western Missions and dosed the country, decreeing that no Japanese could either leave or return to the country. All 'international' contact was thus shunned. Only the Dutch were allowed to maintain a minor commercial mission at the South Western port of Nagasaki, under stringent conditions and supervision.

(5) The Five Relationships are those between ruler and subject, father and son, husband and wife, elder brother and younger brother and between friends. Excepting the last one the least significant, the other relationships propound a hierarchy. The Five Constant Virtues are benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and faithfulness.

(6) "Natural" Irate or later, when discussing rights, is not to be confused with the Enlightenment "natural" which is only a category based on the theory of social contract and qualifies as an "invention" in Maruyama's classification.

(7) Perhaps such a new methodology could also cure the dilettantism of the Indian scholarship in the historiography of ideas (e.g. D.P.Chaltopadhyaya) or even the perplexities and confusions found in the modern spiritualists in India (e.g. Swami Ranganathananda) who have been advocating a "synthesis" of Western science and Indian spirituality. There is no central principle in the system to receive and build linkages with the "modern" whom the spiritualists have discovered, in the sense of the Meiji reformers or even Maruyama.

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