|About the Book|
Mr. Fukuzawa was one of the most remarkable Japanese of the present era. His influence—unlike that of statesmen, soldiers or scientists—was not direct, visible and measurable. His work as author, journalist and educator was to enlighten and train theMoreMr. Fukuzawa was one of the most remarkable Japanese of the present era. His influence—unlike that of statesmen, soldiers or scientists—was not direct, visible and measurable. His work as author, journalist and educator was to enlighten and train the minds, to ennoble and Strengthen the character of his countrymen. Operating thus on intelligence and motive, he rendered preeminent service in fixing deep and firm the foundations of the present Japanese state and society. This work beneath the surface may escape notice, or its importance is likely to be underestimated. Foreigners especially may question the merits or the greatness of the man. Some may search his works in vain for philosophic or scientific expositions to rival those of occidental masters. Others may regret the absence of Christian dogma, or may still more broadly object to the foundations of his morality. They forget that such doubts rest on standards of judgment which are radically false and unjust. The works of Mr. Fukuzawa can be justly compared only with those of his contemporary countrymen. They can be correctly judged only in the light of the peculiar environment in which they were produced and by which the whole life of the author was conditioned, incomparably more rigidly than was the life of any Western writer by his national environment. Mr. Miyamori’s essay amply proves this—a fact of sufficient importance alone to justify its publication. When viewed in this light the marvel is that Mr. Fukuzawa could accept, still more could teach the superiority of Western civiliza-tion—that his ethical code was so noble and broad in conception and so nearly in accord with the precepts of a religion whose dogmas he did not accept and against whose creed most influences of environ¬ment were of a nature powerfully to prejudice him ! The wonder should rather be that men who recognise the necessity of studying plants and animals with exclusive reference to their environment should fail to see the equally obvious necessity of judging the product of an exclusive and long isolated civilization with at least partial reference to the conditioning environment.An appreciation of the peculiar work accom¬plished by Mr. Fukuzawa is essential to a correct estimate of the influences which transformed Mediaeval into Modern Japan. Those who seek a knowledge of the country, but who cannot read Japanese, will therefore doubtless welcome the present essay. The hope that its publication might make some otherwise inaccessible material available to them, that it might also, while assist¬ing to place an illustrious man in clearer light, illustrate the power of individual intelligence and character in social evolution,—this hope induced me to undertake the revision of the manuscript. In making corrections, the aim has been to make the fewest changes that were consistent with clearness. The original form, arrangement, construction and wording have therefore been as far as practicable preserved. It is my sincere wish that a large circle of readers may find in the perusal of this essay as much interest and profit as I have.