Evolution Of The Japanese, Social And Psychic
by Sidney L. Gulick
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

The great problem, therefore, which then confronts man and seems to threaten all further progress is, how to break the bondage of custom so as to secure local or individual variations. This can be done only through some form of individualism. The individual must be free to think and act as experience or fancy may suggest, without fear of being branded as a traitor, or at least he must have the courage to do so in spite of such fears. And to produce an effect on the community he must also be more or less protected in his idiosyncrasies by popular toleration.

He must be allowed to live and work out his theories, proving whether they are valuable or not. But since individualism is just what all previous communal development has been most assiduous in crushing out, how is the rise of individualism possible, or even desirable? If the first and continued development of man depended on the attainment and the maintenance of the communal principle, we may be sure that his further progress will not consist in the reversal of that principle. If, therfore, individualism must be developed, it must manifestly be of a variety which does not conflict with or abrogate communalism. Only as the individualistic includes the communal principle will it be a source of strength; otherwise it can only be a source of weakness to the community. But is not this an impossible condition to satisfy? Certainly, before the event, it would seem to be so. The rarity with which this step in human evolution has been taken would seem to show that it is far more difficult to accomplish than any of the previous steps. To give it a name we may call it communo-individualism. What this variety of individualism is, how this forward step was first actually taken, and how it is maintained and extended to-day, we shall consider in a later chapter. In the present place its importance for us is twofold. First we must realize the logical difficulty of the step—its apparently self-contradictory nature. And secondly we need to see that fully developed and continuously progressive national life is impossible without it. The development of a nation under the communal principle may advance far, even to the attainment of a relatively high grade of civilization. But the fully centralized and completely self-conscious nation cannot come into existence except on the basis of this last step of communo-individualism. The growth of nationalism proper, and the high development of civilization through the rise of the sciences and the arts based upon individualism, all await the dawn of the era of which communo-individualism is the leading, though at first unrecognized, characteristic.

This individualistic development of the communal principle is its intensive development; it is the focalizing and centralizing of the consciousness of the national unity in each individual member. The extensive process of communal enlargement must ever be accompanied by the intensive establishment in the individual of the communal ideal, the objective by the subjective, the physical by the psychical, if the accidental association for individual profit is to develop into the permanent association for the national as well as the individual life. The intensive or subjective development of the communal principle does, as a matter of fact, take place in all growing communities, but it is largely unconscious. Not until the final stages of national development does it become a self-conscious process, deserving the distinctive name I have given it here, communo-individualism.[CG]

The point just made is, however, only one aspect of a more general fact, too, of cardinal importance for the sociologist and the student of human evolution. It is that, throughout the entire period of the expansion of the community, there has been an equally profound, although wholly unconscious, development of the individual. This fact seems to have largely escaped the notice of all but the most recent thinkers and writers on the general topic of human and social evolution. The fact and the importance of the communal life have been so manifest that, in important senses, the individual has been almost, if not wholly, dropped out of sight. The individual has been conceived to have been from the very beginning of social evolution fully endowed with mind, ideas, and brains, and to be perfectly regardless of all other human beings. The development of the community has accordingly been conceived to be a progressive taming and subduing of this wild, self-centered, primitive man; a process of eliminating his individualistic instincts. So far as the individual is concerned, it has been conceived to be chiefly a negative process; a process of destroying his individual desires and plans and passions. Man's natural state has been supposed to be that of absolute selfishness. Only the hard necessity of natural law succeeded in forcing him to curb his natural selfish desires and to unite with his fellows. Only on these terms could he maintain even an existence. Those who have not accepted these terms have been exterminated. Communal life in all its forms, from the family upward to the most unified and developed nation, is thus conceived as a continued limiting of the individual—a necessity, indeed, to his existence, but none the less a limitation.

I am unable to take this view, which at best is a one-sided statement. It appears to me capable of demonstration, that communal and individual development proceed pari passu; that every gain in the communal life is a gain to the individual and vice versa. They are complementary, not contradictory processes. Neither can exist, in any proper sense, apart from the other; and the degree of the development of the one is a sure index of the degree of the development of the other. So important is this matter that we must pause to give it further consideration.

Consider, first, man in his earliest stage of development. A relatively segregarious animal; with a few ideas about the nuts and fruits and roots on which he lives; with a little knowledge as to where to find them; the subject of constant fear lest a stronger man may suddenly appear to seize and carry off his wife and food; possessing possibly a few articulate sounds answering to words; such probably was primitive man. He must have been little removed from the ape. His "self," his mind, was so small and so empty of content that we could hardly recognize him as a man, should we stumble on him in the forest.

Look next upon him after he has become a family-man. Living in the group, his life enlarges; his existence broadens; his ideas multiply; his vocabulary increases with his ideas and experiences; he begins to share the life and thinking and interests and joys and sorrows of others; their ideas and experiences become his, to his enormous advantage. What he now is throws into the shade of night what he used to be. So far from being the loser by his acceptance of even this limited communal life, he is a gainer in every way. He begins to know what love is, and hate; what joy is, and sorrow; what kindness is, and cruelty; what altruism is, and selfishness. Thus, not only in ideas and language, in industry and property, but also in emotions, in character, in morality, in religion, in the knowledge of self, and even in opportunity for selfishness, he is the gainer. In just the degree that communal life is developed is the life of the individuals that compose it extended both subjectively and objectively. Human psychogenesis takes place in the communal stage of his life. Human association is its chief external cause.

It matters not at what successive stage of man's developing life we may choose to look at him, the depth and height and breadth, in a word, the fullness and vigor and character of the inner and private life of the individual, will depend directly on the nature and development of the communal life. As the community expands, taking in new families or tribes or nations, reaching out to new regions, learning new industries, developing new ideas of man, of nature, of the gods, of duty, inventing new industries, discovering new truths, and developing a new language, all these fresh acquirements of the community become the possession of its individual members. In the growing complexity of society the individual unit, it is true, is increasingly lost among the millions of his fellow-units, yet all these successive steps serve to render his life the larger and richer. His horizon is no longer the little family group in which he was born; he now looks out over large and populous regions and feels the thrill of his growing life as he realizes the unity and community of his life and interests with those of his fellow-countrymen. His language is increasingly enriched; it serves to shape all his thinking and thus even the structure of his mind. His knowledge reaches far beyond his own experience; it includes not only that of the few persons whom he knows directly, but also that of unnumbered millions, remote in time and space. He increasingly discovers, though he never has analyzed, and is perhaps wholly unable to analyze, the discovery that he is not a thing among things; his life has a universal aspect. He lives more and more the universal life, subjecting the demands of the once domineering present to decisions of a cool judgment that looks back into the past and carefully weighs the interests of the future, temporal and eternal. Every advance made by the community is thus stored up to the credit of its individual members. So far, then, from the development of the communal principle consisting of and coming about through a limitation of the individual, it is exactly the reverse. Only as the individual develops are communal unity and progress possible. And on the other hand, only where the communal principle has reached its highest development, both extensively and intensively, do we find the most highly developed personality. The one is a necessary condition of the other. The deepest, blackest selfishness, even, can only come into existence where the communal principle has reached its highest development.

The preceding statement, however, is not equivalent to saying that when communalism and individualism arose in human consciousness they were both accepted as equally important. The reverse seems always to have been the case. As soon as the two principles are distinguished in thought, the communal is at once ranked as the higher, and the individual principle is scorned if not actually rejected. And the reason for this is manifest. From earliest times the constant foe which the community has had to fight and exterminate has been the wanton, selfish individual. Individualism of this type was the spontaneous contrast to the communal life, and was ever manifesting itself. No age or race has been without it, nor ignorant of it. As soon as the two principles became clearly contrasted in thought, therefore, because of his actual experience, man could conceive of individualism only as the antithesis to communalism; it was felt that the two were mutually destructive. It inevitably followed that communalism as a principle was accepted and individualism condemned. In their minds not only social order, but existence itself, was at stake. And they were right. Egoistic individualism is necessarily atomistic. No society can long maintain its life as a unified and peaceful society, when such a principle has been widely accepted by its members. The social ills of this and of every age largely arise from the presence of this type of men, who hold this principle of life.

If, therefore, after a fair degree of national unity has been attained, the higher stages of national evolution depend on the higher development of individualism, and if the only kind of individualism of which men can conceive is the egoistic, it becomes evident that further progress must cease. Stagnation, or degeneration, must follow. This is what has happened to nearly all the great nations and races of the world. They progressed well up to a certain point. Then they halted or fell back. The only possible condition under which a new lease of progressive life could be secured by them was a new variety of individualism, which would unite the opposite and apparently contradictory poles of communalism and egoism, namely, communo-individualism. Inconceivable though it be to those men and nations who have not experienced this type of life, it is nevertheless a fact, and a mighty factor in human and in national evolution. In its light we are able to see that the communal life itself has not reached its fullest development until the individualistic principle has been not only recognized in thought, but exalted, both in theory and in fact, to its true and coordinate position beside the communal principle. Only then does the nation become fully and completely organized. Only then does the national organism contain within itself the means for an endless, because a self-sustained, life.

It is important to guard against a misunderstanding of the principles just enunciated which may easily arise. In saying that the development of the individual has proceeded pari passu with that of the community, that every gain by the community has contributed directly to the development of the individual, I do not say that the communal profits are at once distributed among all the members of the group, or that the distribution is at all equal. Indeed, such is far from the case. Some few individuals seem to appropriate a large and unfair proportion of the communal bank account. So far as a people live a simple and relatively undifferentiated life, all sharing in much the same kind of pursuits, and enjoying much the same grade of life,—such as prevailed in a large measure in the earlier times, and decreasingly as society has become industrial,—and so far also as the new acquirements of thought are transformed into practical life and common language, all the members of the community share these acquirements in fairly equal measure. So far, however, as the communal profits consist of more or less abstract ideas, embodied in religious and philosophic thought, and stored away in books and literature accessible only to scholars, they are distributed very unequally. The more highly developed and consequently differentiated the society, the more difficult does distribution become. The very structure of the highly differentiated communal organism forbids the equal distribution of these goods. The literary and ruling minority have exclusive access to the treasures. The industrial majority are more and more rigidly excluded from them. Thus, although it is strictly true that every advance in the communal principle accrues to the benefit of the individual, it is not true that such advance necessarily accrues to the benefit of every individual, or equally to all individuals. In its lowest stages, developing communalism lifts all its individual members to about the same level of mental and moral acquirement. In its middle stages it develops all individuals to a certain degree, and certain individuals to a high degree. In its highest stages it develops among all its members a uniformly high grade of personal worth and acquirement.

Now the great problem on whose solution depends the possibility of continued communal evolution is, from this view-point, the problem of distributing the gains of the community to all its members more and more equally. It is the problem of giving to each human unit all the best and truest thought and character, all the highest and noblest ideals and motives, which the most advanced individuals have secured. If we stop to inquire minutely and analytically just what is the nature of the greatest attainments made by the community, we discover that it is not the possession of wealth in land or gold, it is not the accident of social rank, it is not any incident of temporal happiness or physical ease of life. It consists, on the contrary, in the discovery of the real nature of man. He is no mere animal, living in the realm of things and pleasures, limited by the now and the here. He is a person, a rational being. His thoughts and desires can only be expressed in terms of infinity. Nothing short of the infinite can satisfy either his reason or his heart Though living in nature and dependent on it, he is above it, and may and should understand it and rule it. His thoughts embrace all time and all being. In a very real sense he lives an infinite and eternal life, even here in this passing world.

The discovery of this set of facts, slowly emerging into consciousness, is the culmination of all past history, and the beginning of all man's higher life. It is the turning point in the history of the human race. Every onward step in man's preceding life, whereby he has united to form higher and higher groups, has been leading onward and upward to the development of strong personality, to the development of individuals competent to make this great discovery. But this is not enough.

The next step is to discover the fact, and to believe it, that this infinite life is the potential possession of every member of the community; that the bank account which the community has been storing up for ages is for the use not only of a favored few, but also of the masses. That since every man is a man, he has an infinite and an eternal life and value, which no accident of birth, or poverty, can annul. Each man needs to discover himself. The great problem, then, which confronts progressive communal evolution is to take this enlarged definition of the individual and scatter it broadcast over the land, persuading all men to accept and believe it both for themselves and for others. This definition must be carried in full confidence to the lowest, meanest, most ignorant man that lives in the community, and by its help this down-most man must be shown his birthright, and in the light of it he must be raised to actual manhood. He must "come to himself"; only so can he qualify for his heritage.

After a nation, therefore, has secured a large degree of unity, of the confederated tribal type, the step which must be taken, before it can proceed to more complete nationalization even, is, first, the discovery of personality as the real and essential characteristic of men, and secondly the discovery that high-grade personality may and can and must be developed in all the members of the community. In proportion as the members of the community become conscious persons, fully self-conscious and self-regulating, fully imbued with the idea and the spirit of true personality, of communo-individualism, in that proportion will the community be unified and centralized, as well as capable of the most complex and differentiated internal structure. The strength of such a nation will be indefinitely greater than that of any other less personalized and so less communalized nation.



Few phases of the Japanese character have proved so fascinating to the philosophical writer on Japan as that of the personality of this Far Eastern people. From the writings of Sir Rutherford Alcock, the first resident English minister in Japan, down to the last publication that has come under my eye, all have something to say on this topic. One writer, Mr. Percival Lowell, has devoted an entire volume to it under the title of "The Soul of the Far East," in which he endeavors to establish the position that the entire civilization of the Orient, in its institutions, such as the family and the state, in the structure of its language, in its conceptions of nature, in its art, in its religion, and finally in its inherent mental nature, is essentially impersonal. One of the prominent and long resident missionaries in Japan once delivered a course of lectures on the influence of pantheism in the Orient, in which he contended, among other things, that the lack of personal pronouns and other phenomena of Japanese life and religion are due to the presence and power in this land of pantheistic philosophy preventing the development of personality.

The more I have examined these writings and their fundamental assumptions, the more manifest have ambiguities and contradictions in the use of terms become. I have become also increasingly impressed with the failure of advocates of Japanese "impersonality" to appreciate the real nature of the phenomena they seek to explain. They have not comprehended the nature or the course of social evolution, nor have they discovered the mutual relation existing between the social order and personality. The arguments advanced for the "impersonal" view are more or less plausible, and this method of interpreting the Orient appeals for authority to respectable philosophical writers. No less a philosopher than Hegel is committed to this interpretation. The importance of this subject, not only for a correct understanding of Japan, but also of the relation existing between individual, social, and religious evolution, requires us to give it careful attention. We shall make our way most easily into this difficult discussion by considering some prevalent misconceptions and defective arguments. I may here express my indebtedness to the author of "The Soul of the Far East" for the stimulus received from his brilliant volume, differ though I do from his main thesis. We begin this study with a few quotations from Mr. Lowell's now classic work.

"Capability to evolve anything is not one of the marked characteristics of the Far East. Indeed, the tendency to spontaneous variation, Nature's mode of making experiments, would seem there to have been an enterprising faculty that was early exhausted. Sleepy, no doubt, from having got up betimes with the dawn, these inhabitants of the land of the morning began to look upon their day as already far spent before they had reached its noon. They grew old young, and have remained much the same age ever since. What they were centuries ago, that at bottom they are to-day. Take away the European influences of the past twenty years, and each man might almost be his own great-grandfather. In race character, he is yet essentially the same. The traits that distinguished these peoples in the past have been gradually extinguishing them ever since. Of these traits, stagnating influences upon their career, perhaps the most important is the great quality of "impersonality."[CGa] "The peoples inhabiting it [the northern hemisphere] grow steadily more personal as we go West. So unmistakable is this gradation that we are almost tempted to ascribe it to cosmical rather than to human causes.... The sense of self grows more intense as we follow the wake of the setting sun, and fades steadily as we advance into the dawn. America, Europe, the Levant, India, Japan, each is less personal than the one before. We stand at the nearer end of the scale, the Far Orientals at the other. If with us the 'I' seems to be the very essence of the soul, then the soul of the Far East may be said to be 'Impersonality.'"[CH]

Following the argument through the volume we see that individual physical force and aggressiveness, deficiency of politeness, and selfishness are, according to this line of thought, essential elements of personality. The opposite set of qualities constitutes the essence of impersonality. "The average Far Oriental, indeed, talks as much to no purpose as his Western cousin, only in his chit-chat politeness takes the place of personalities. With him, self is suppressed, and an ever-present regard for others is substituted in its stead. A lack of personality is, as we have seen, the occasion of this courtesy; it is also its cause.... Considered a priori, the connection between the two is not far to seek. Impersonality, by lessening the interest in one's self, induces one to take an interest in others. Introspection tends to make a man a solitary animal, the absence of it a social one. The more impersonal the people, the more will the community supplant the individual in the popular estimation.... Then, as the social desires develop, politeness, being the means of their enjoyment, develops also."[CI]

Let us take a look at some definitions:

"Individuality, personality, and the sense of self, are only three aspects of the same thing. They are so many various views of the soul, according as we regard it from an intrinsic, an altruistic, or an egoistic standpoint.... By individuality we mean that bundle of ideas, thoughts, and day-dreams which constitute our separate identity, and by virtue of which we feel each one of us at home within himself.... Consciousness is the necessary attribute of mental action. Not only is it the sole way we have of knowing mind; without it there would be no mind to know. Not to be conscious of one's self is, mentally speaking, not to be. This complex entity, this little cosmos of a world, the 'I,' has for its very law of existence, self-consciousness, while personality is the effect it produces upon the consciousness of others."[CJ]

The more we study the above definitions, the more baffling they become. Try as I may, I have not been able to fit them, not only to the facts of my own experience, which may not be strange, but I cannot reconcile them even to each other. There seem to me inherent ambiguities and self-contradictions lurking beneath their scientific splendor. Individuality is stated to be "that bundle of ideas, thoughts, and day-dreams which constitute our separate identity." This seems plain and straightforward, but is it really so? Consciousness is stated to be not only "the necessary attribute of mental action" (to which exception might be taken on the ground of abundant proof of unconscious mental action), but it is also considered to be the very cause of mind itself. Not only by consciousness do we know mind, but the consciousness itself constitutes the mind; "without it there would be no mind to know." "Not to be conscious of one's self is not to be." Do we then cease to be, when we sleep? or when absorbed in thought or action? And do we become new-created when we awake? What is the bond of connection that binds into one the successive consciousnesses of the successive days? Does not that "bundle of ideas" become broken into as many wholly independent fragments as there are intervals between our sleepings? Or rather is not each fragment a whole in itself, and is not the idea of self-continuity from day to day and from week to week a self-delusion? How can it be otherwise if consciousness constitutes existence? For after the consciousness has ceased and "the bundle of ideas," which constitutes the individuality of that day, has therefore gone absolutely out of existence, it is impossible that the old bundle shall be resurrected by a new consciousness. Only a new bundle can be the product of a new consciousness. Evidently there is trouble somewhere. But let us pass on.

"The 'I' has for its very law of existence self-consciousness." Is not "self-consciousness" here identified with "consciousness" in the preceding sentence? The very existence of the mind, the "I," is ascribed to each in turn. Is there, then, no difference between consciousness and self-consciousness? Finally, personality is stated to be "the effect it [the "I"] produces on the self-consciousness of others." I confess I gain no clear idea from this statement. But whatever else it may mean, this is clear, that personality is not a quality or characteristic of the "I," but only some effect which the "I" produces on the consciousness of another. Is it a quality, then, of the other person? And does impersonality mean the lack of such an effect? But does not this introduce us to new confusion? When a human being is wholly absorbed in an altruistic act, for instance, wholly forgetful of self, he is, according to a preceding paragraph, quite impersonal; yet, according to the definition before us, he cannot be impersonal, for he is producing most lively effects on the consciousness of the poor human being he is befriending; in his altruistic deed he is strongly personal, yet not he, for personality does not belong to the person acting, but somehow to the person affected. How strange that the personality of a person is not his own characteristic but another's!

But still more confusing is the definition when we recall that if the benevolent man is wholly unconscious of self, and is thinking only of the one whom he is helping, then he himself is no longer existing. But in that case how can he help the poor man or even continue to think of him? Perfect altruism is self-annihilation! Knowledge of itself by the mind is that which constitutes it! But enough. It has become clear that these terms have not been used consistently, nor are the definitions such as to command the assent of any careful psychologist or philosopher. What the writer means to say is, I judge, that the measure of a man's personality is the amount of impression he makes on his fellows. For the whole drift of his argument is that both the physical and mental aggressiveness of the Occidental is far greater than that of the Oriental; this characteristic, he asserts, is due to the deficient development of personality in the Orient, and this deficient development he calls "impersonality." If those writers who describe the Orient as "impersonal" fail in their definition of the term "personal," their failure to define "impersonal" is even more striking. They use the term as if it were so well known as to need no definition; yet their usage ascribes to it contrary conceptions. As a rule they conceive of "impersonality" as a deficiency of development; yet, when they attempt to describe its nature, they speak of it as self-suppression. A clear statement of this latter point may be found in a passage already quoted: "Politeness takes the place of personalities. With him [the Oriental], self is suppressed, and an ever-present regard for others is substituted." "Impersonality, by lessening the interest in one's self, induces one to take interest in others." In this statement it will be noted the "self is suppressed." Does "impersonality" then follow personality, as a matter of historical development? It would so appear from this and kindred passages. But if this is true, then Japan is more instead of less developed than the Occident. Yet this is exactly the reverse of that for which this school of thought contends.

Let us now examine some concrete illustrations adduced by those who advocate Japanese impersonality. They may be arranged in two classes: those that are due wholly to invention, and those that are doubtless facts, but that may be better accounted for by some other theory than that of "impersonality."

Mr. Lowell makes amusing material out of the two children's festivals, known by the Japanese as "Sekku," occurring on March 3 and June 5 (old calendar). Because the first of these is exclusively for the girls and the second is exclusively for the boys, Mr. Lowell concludes that they are general birthdays, in spite of the fact which he seems to know that the ages are not reckoned from these days. He calls them "the great impersonal birthdays"; for, according to his supposition, all the girls celebrate their birthdays on the third day of the third moon and all the boys celebrate theirs on the fifth day of the fifth moon, regardless of the actual days on which they may have been born. With regard to this understanding of the significance of the festival, I have asked a large number of Japanese, not one of whom had ever heard of such an idea. Each one has insisted that individual birthdays are celebrated regardless of these general festivals; the ages of children are never computed from these festivals; they have nothing whatever to do with the ages of the children.[CK]

The report of the discussions of the Japanese Society of Comparative Religion contains quite a minute statement of all the facts known as to these festivals, much too long in this connection, but among them there is not the slightest reference to the birthday feature attributed to them by Mr. Lowell.[CL]

Mr. Lowell likewise invents another fact in support of his theory by his interpretation of the Japanese method of computing ages. Speaking of the advent of an infant into the home he says, that "from the moment he makes his appearance he is spoken of as a year old, and this same age he continues to be considered in most simple cases of calculation, till the beginning of the next calendar year. When that epoch of general rejoicing arrives, he is credited with another year himself. So is everybody else. New Year's day is a common birthday for the community, a sort of impersonal anniversary for his whole world." Now this is a very entertaining conceit, but it will hardly pass muster as a serious argument with one who has any real understanding of Japanese ideas on the subject. The simple fact is that the Japanese does not ordinarily tell you how old the child is, but only in how many year periods he has lived. Though born December 31, on January 1 he has undoubtedly lived in two different year periods. This method of counting, however, is not confined to the counting of ages, but it characterizes all their counting. If you ask a man how many days before a certain festival near at hand he will say ten where we would say but nine. In other words, in counting periods the Japanese count all, including both the first and the last, whereas we omit the first. This as a custom is an interesting psychological problem, but it has not the remotest connection with "personality" or "impersonality." Furthermore, the Japanese have another method of signifying the age of a child which corresponds exactly to ours. You have but to ask what is the "full" age of a child to receive a statement which satisfies our ideas of the problem. The idea of calling New Year's day a great "impersonal" birthday because forsooth all the members of the community and the nation then enter on a new year period, and of using that as an argument for the "impersonality" of the whole race, is as interesting as it is inconclusive.

Much is made of the fact that Japanese art has paid its chief attention to nature and to animals, and but little to man. This proves, it is argued, that the Japanese artist and people are "impersonal"—that they are not self-conscious, for their gaze is directed outward, toward "impersonal" nature; had they been an aggressive personal people, a people conscious of self, their art would have depicted man. The cogency of this logic seems questionable to me. Art is necessarily objective, whether it depicts nature or man; the gaze is always and necessarily outward, even when it is depicting the human form. In our consideration of the aesthetic elements of Japanese character[CM] we gave reasons for the Japanese love of natural beauty and for their relatively slight attention to the human form. If the reasons there given were correct, the fact that Japanese art is concerned chiefly with nature has nothing whatever to do with the "impersonality" of the people. If "impersonality" is essentially altruistic, if it consists of self-suppression and interest in others, then it is difficult to see how art that depicts the form even of human beings can escape the charge of being "impersonal" except when the artist is depicting himself. If, again, supreme interest in objective "impersonal" nature proves the lack of "personality," should we not argue that the West is supremely "impersonal" because of its extraordinary interest in nature and in the natural and physical sciences? Are naturalists and scientists "impersonal," and are philosophers and psychologists "personal" in nature? If it be argued that art which depicts the human emotions is properly speaking subjective, and therefore a proof of developed personality, will it be maintained that Japan is devoid of such art? How about the pictures and the statues of warriors? How about the passionate features of the Ni-o, the placid faces of the Buddhas and other religious imagery? Are there not here the most powerful representations possible of human emotions, both active and passive? But even so, is not the gaze of the artist still outward on others, i.e., is he not altruistic; and, therefore, "impersonal," according to this method of thought and use of terms? Are European artists who revel in landscape and animal scenes deficient in "personal" development, and are those who devote their lives to painting nude women particularly developed in "personality"? Truly, a defective terminology and a distorted conception of what "personality" is, land one in most contradictory positions.

Those who urge the "impersonality" of the Orient make much of the Japanese idea of the "family," with the attendant customs. The fact that marriage is arranged for by the parents, and that the two individuals most concerned have practically no voice in the matter, proves conclusively, they argue, that the latter have little "personality." Here again all turns on the definition of this important word. If by "personality" is meant consciousness of one's self as an independent individual, then I do not see what relation the two subjects have. If, however, it means the willingness of the subjects of marriage to forego their own desires and choices; because indeed they do not have any of their own, then the facts will not bear out the argument. These writers skillfully choose certain facts out of the family customs whereby to illustrate and enforce this theory, but they entirely omit others having a significant bearing upon it. Take, for instance, the fact that one-third of the marriages end in divorce. What does this show? It shows that one-third of the individuals in each marriage are so dissatisfied with the arrangements made by the parents that they reject them and assert their own choice and decision. According to the argument for "impersonality" in marriage, these recalcitrant, unsubmissive individuals have a great amount of "personality," that is, consciousness of self; and this consciousness of self produces a great effect on the other party to the marriage; and the effect on the other party (in the vast majority of the cases women), that is to say, the effect of the divorce on the consciousness of the women, constitutes the personality of the men! The marriage customs cited, therefore, do not prove the point, for no account is taken of the multitudinous cases in which one party or the other utterly refuses to carry out the arrangements of the parents. Many a girl declines from the beginning the proposals of the parents. These cases are by no means few. Only a few days before writing the present lines a waiting girl in a hotel requested me to find her a place of service in some foreign family. On inquiry she told me how her parents wished her to marry into a certain family; but that she could not endure the thought and had run away from home. One of the facts which strike a missionary, as he becomes acquainted with the people, is the frequency of the cases of running away from home. Girls run away, probably not as frequently as boys, yet very often. Are we to believe that these are individuals who have an excessive amount of "personality"? If so, then the development of "personality" in Japan is far more than the advocates of its "impersonality" recognize or would allow us to believe. Mr. Lowell devotes three pages to a beautiful and truthful description of the experience known in the West as "falling in love." Turning his attention to the Orient, because of the fact that marriages are arranged for by the families concerned, he argues that: "No such blissful infatuation falls to the lot of the Far Oriental. He never is the dupe of his own desire, the willing victim of his self-delusion. He is never tempted to reveal himself, and by thus revealing, realize.... For she is not his love; she is only his wife; and what is left of a romance when the romance is left out?" Although there is an element of truth in this, yet it is useless as a support for the theory of Japanese "impersonality." For it is not a fact that the Japanese do not fall in love; it is a well-known experience to them. It is inconceivable how anyone at all acquainted with either Japanese life or literature could make such an assertion. The passionate love of a man and a woman for each other, so strong that in multitudes of cases the two prefer a common death to a life apart, is a not uncommon event in Japan. Frequently we read in the daily papers of a case of mutual suicide for love. This is sufficiently common to have received a specific name "joshi."[CN]

So far as the argument for "impersonality" is concerned this illustration from the asserted lack of love is useless, for it is one of those manufactured for the occasion by imaginative and resourceful advocates of "impersonality."

But I do not mean to say that "falling in love" plays the same important part in the life and development of the youth in Japan that it does in the West. It is usually utterly ignored, so far as parental planning for marriage is concerned. Love is not recognized as a proper basis for the contraction of marriage, and is accordingly frowned upon. It is deemed a sign of mental and moral weakness for a man to fall in love. Under these conditions it is not at all strange that "falling in love" is not so common an experience as in the West. Furthermore, this profound experience is not utilized as it is in the West as a refining and elevating influence in the life of a young man or woman. In a land where "falling in love" is regarded as an immoral thing, a breaking out of uncontrollable animal passion, it is not strange that it should not be glorified by moralists or sanctified by religion. There are few experiences in the West so ennobling as the love that a young man and a young woman bear to each other during the days of their engagement and lasting onward throughout the years of their lengthening married life. The West has found the secret of making use of this period in the lives of the young to elevate and purify them of which the East knows little.

But there are still other and sadder consequences following from the attitude of the Japanese to the question of "falling in love." It can hardly be doubted that the vast number of divorces is due to the defective method of betrothal, a method which disregards the free choice of the parties most concerned. The system of divorce is, we may say, the device of society for remedying the inherent defects of the betrothal system. It treats both the man and the woman as though they were not persons but unfeeling machines. Personality, for a while submissive, soon asserts its liberty, in case the married parties prove uncongenial, and demands the right of divorce. Divorce is thus the device of thwarted personality. But in addition to this evil, there is that of concubinage or virtual polygamy, which is often the result of "falling in love." And then, there is the resort of hopelessly thwarted personality known in the West as well as in the East, murder and suicide, and oftentimes even double suicide, referred to above. The marriage customs of the Orient are such that hopeless love, though mutual, is far more frequent than in the West, and the death of lovers in each other's arms, after having together taken the fatal draught, is not rare. The number of suicides due to hopeless love in 1894 was 407, and the number of murders for the same cause was 94. Here is a total of over five hundred deaths in a single year, very largely due to the defective marriage system. Do not these phenomena refute assertions to the effect that the Japanese are so impersonal as not to know what it is to "fall in love"? If the question of the personality of the Japanese is to be settled by the phenomena of family life and the strength of the sexual emotion, would we not have to pronounce them possessed of strongly developed personality?



We must now face the far more difficult task of presenting a positive statement in regard to the problem of personality in the Orient. We need to discover just what is or should be meant by the terms "personality" and "impersonality." We must also analyze this Oriental civilization and discover its elementary factors, in order that we may see what it is that has given the impression to so many students that the Orient is "impersonal." In doing this, although our aim is constructive, we shall attain our end with greater ease if we rise to positive results through further criticism of defective views. We naturally begin with definitions.

"Individuality" is defined by the Standard Dictionary as "the state or quality of being individual; separate or distinct existence." "Individual" is defined as "Anything that cannot be divided or separated into parts without losing identity.... A single person, animal, or thing." "Personality" is defined as "That which constitutes a person; conscious, separate existence as an intelligent and voluntary being." "Person" is defined as "Any being having life, intelligence, will, and separate individual existence." On these various definitions the following observations seem pertinent.

"Individuality" has reference only to the distinctions existing between different objects, persons, or things. The term draws attention to the fact of distinctness and difference and not to the qualities which make the difference, and least of all to the consciousness of identity by virtue of which "we feel each one of us at home within himself."

"Personality" properly has reference only to that which constitutes a person. As contrasted with an animal a person has not only life, but also a highly developed and self-conscious intelligence, feeling, and will; these involve moral relations toward other persons and religious relations toward God.

Consciousness is not attendant on every act of the person, much less is self-consciousness, although both are always potential and more or less implicit. A person is often so absorbed in thought or act as to be wholly unconscious of his thinking or acting; the consciousness is, so to speak, submerged for the time being. Self-consciousness implies considerable progress in reflection on one's own states of mind, and in the attainment of the consciousness of one's own individuality. It is the result of introspection. Self-consciousness, however, does not constitute one's identity; it merely recognizes it.

The foundation for a correct conception of the term "personality" rests on the conception of the term "soul" or "spirit." In my judgment, each human being is to be conceived as being a separate "soul," endowed by its very nature with definite capacities or qualities or attributes which we describe as mental, emotional, and volitional, having powers of consciousness more or less developed according to the social evolution of the race, the age of the individual, his individual environment, and depending also on the amount of education he may have received. The possession of a soul endowed with these qualities constitutes a person; their possession in marked measure constitutes developed personality, and in defective measure, undeveloped personality.

The unique character of a "person" is that he combines perfect separateness with the possibility and more or less of the actuality of perfect universality. A "person" is in a true sense a universal, an infinite being. He is thus through the constitution of his psychic nature a thinking, feeling, and willing being. Through his intellect and in proportion to his knowledge he becomes united with the whole objective universe; through his feelings he may become united in sympathy and love with all sentient creation, and even with God himself, the center and source of all being; through his active will he is increasingly creator of his environment. Man is thus in a true sense creating the conditions which make him to be what he is. Thus in no figurative sense, but literally and actually, man is in the process of creating himself. He is realizing the latent and hitherto unsuspected potentialities of his nature. He is creating a world in which to express himself; and this he does by expressing himself. In proportion as man advances, making explicit what is implicit in his inner nature, is he said to grow in personality. A man thus both possesses personality and grows in personality. He could not grow in it did he not already actually possess it. In such growth both elements of his being, the individual and the universal, develop simultaneously. A person of inferior personal development is at once less individual and less universal. This is a matter, however, not of endowment but of development. We thus distinguish between the original personal endowment, which we may call intrinsic or inherent personality, and the various forms in which this personality has manifested and expressed itself, which we may call extrinsic or acquired personality. Inherent personality is that which differentiates man from animal. It constitutes the original involution which explains and even necessitates man's entire evolution. There may be, nay, must be, varying degrees of expression of the inherent personality, just as there may be and must be varying degrees of consciousness of personality. These depend on the degree of evolution attained by the race and by the individuals of the race.

It is no part of our plan to justify this conception of the nature of personality, or to defend these brief summary statements as to its inherent nature. It is enough if we have gained a clear idea of this conception on which the present chapter, and indeed this entire work, rests. In discussing the question as to personality in the Orient, it is important for us ever to bear in mind the distinctions between the inherent endowment that constitutes personal beings, the explicit and external expression of that endowment, and the possession of the consciousness of that endowment. For these are three things quite distinct, though intimately related.

The term "impersonality" demands special attention, being the most misused and abused term of all. The first and natural signification of the word is the mere negation of personality; as a stone, for instance, is strictly "impersonal." This is the meaning given by the dictionaries. But in this sense, of course, it is inapplicable to human beings. What, then, is the meaning when applied to them? When Mr. Lowell says, "If with us [of the West] the 'I' seems to be of the very essence of the soul, then the soul of the Far East may be said to be 'impersonal,'" what does he mean? He certainly does not mean that the Chinese and Japanese and Hindus have no emotional or volitional characteristics, that they are strictly "impersonal"; nor does he mean that the Oriental has less development of powers of thinking, willing, feeling, or of introspective meditation. The whole argument shows that he means that their sense of the individuality or separateness of the Ego is so slight that it is practically ignored; and this not by their civilization alone, but by each individual himself. The supreme consciousness of the individual is not of himself, but of his family or race; or if he is an intensely religious man, his consciousness is concerned with his essential identity with the Absolute and Ultimate Being, rather than with his own separate self. In other words, the term "impersonal" is made to do duty for the non-existent negative of "individual." "Impersonal" is thus equivalent to "universal" and personal to "individual." To change the phraseology, the term "impersonal" is used to signify a state of mind in which the separateness or individuality of the individual ego is not fully recognized or appreciated even by the individual himself. The prominent element of the individual's consciousness is the unity or the universalism, rather than the multiplicity or individualism.

Mr. Lowell in effect says this in his closing chapter entitled "Imagination." His thesis seems to be that the universal mind, of which, each individual receives a fragment, becomes increasingly differentiated as the race mind evolves. In proportion as the evolution has progressed does the individual realize his individuality—his separateness; this individualization, this differentiation of the individual mind is, in his view, the measure as well as the cause of the higher civilization. The lack of such individualization he calls "impersonality"; in such a mind the dominant thought is not of the separateness between, but of the unity that binds together, himself and the universal mind.

If the above is a correct statement of the conception of those who emphasize the "impersonality" of the Orient, then there are two things concerning it which may be said at once. First, the idea is a perfectly clear and intelligible one, the proposition is definite and tangible. But why do they not so express it? The terms "personality" and "individuality" are used synonymously; while "impersonal" is considered the equivalent of the negative of individual, un-individual—a word which has not yet been and probably never will be used. But the negation of individual is universal; "impersonal," therefore, according to the usage of these writers, becomes equivalent to universal.

But, secondly, even after the use of terms has become thus understood, and we are no longer confused over the words, having arrived at the idea they are intended to convey, the idea itself is fundamentally erroneous. I freely admit that there is an interesting truth of which these writers have got a glimpse and to which they are striving to give expression, but apparently they have not understood the real nature of this truth and consequently they are fundamentally wrong in calling the Far East "impersonal," even in their sense of the word. They are furthermore in error, in ascribing this "impersonal" characteristic of the Japanese to their inherent race nature, If they are right, the problem is fundamentally one of biological evolution.

In contrast to this view, it is here contended, first, that the feature they are describing is not such as they describe it; second, that it is not properly called "impersonality"; third, that it is not a matter of inherent race nature, of brain structure, or of mind differentiation, but wholly a matter of social evolution; and, fourth, that if there is such a trait as they describe, it is not due to a deficiently developed but on the contrary to a superlatively developed personality, which might better be called super-personality. To state the position here advocated in a nutshell, it is maintained that the asserted "impersonality" of the Japanese is the result of the communalistic nature of the social order which has prevailed down to the most recent times; it has put its stamp on every feature of the national and individual life, not omitting the language, the philosophy, the religion, or even the inmost thoughts of the people. This dominance of the communalistic type of social order has doubtless had an effect on the physical and psychic, including the brain, development of the people. These physical and psychical developments, however, are not the cause, but the product, of the social order. They are, furthermore, of no superlative import, since they offer no insuperable obstacle to the introduction of a social order radically different from that of past millenniums.

Before proceeding to elaborate and illustrate this general position, it seems desirable to introduce two further definitions.

Communalism and individualism are the two terms used throughout this work to describe two contrasted types of social order.

By communalism I mean that order of society, whether family, tribal, or national, in which the idea and the importance of the community are more or less clearly recognized, and in which this idea has become the constructive principle of the social order, and where at the same time the individual is practically ignored and crushed.

By individualism I mean that later order of society in which the worth of the individual has been recognized and emphasized, to the extent of radically modifying the communalism, securing a liberty for individual act and thought and initiative, of which the old order had no conception, and which it would have considered both dangerous and immoral. Individualism is not that atomic social order in which the idea of the communal unity has been rejected, and each separate human being regarded as the only unit. Such a society could hardly be called an order, even by courtesy. Individualism is that developed stage of communalism, wherein the advantages of close communal unity have been retained, and wherein, at the same time, the idea and practice of the worth of the individual and the importance of giving him liberty of thought and action have been added. Great changes in the internal structure, of society follow, but the communial unity or idea is neither lost nor injured. In taking up our various illustrations regarding personality in Japan, three points demand our attention; what are the facts? are they due to, and do they prove, the asserted "impersonality" of the people? and are the facts sufficiently accounted for by the communal theory of the Japanese social order?

Let us begin, then, with the illustration of which advocates of "impersonality" make so much, Japanese politeness. As to the reality of the fact, it is hardly necessary that I present extended proof. Japanese politeness is proverbial. It is carried into the minutest acts of daily life; the holding of the hands, the method of entering a room, the sucking in of the breath on specific occasions, the arrangement of the hair, the relative places of honor in a sitting-room, the method of handing guests refreshments, the exchange of friendly gifts—every detail of social life is rigidly dominated by etiquette. Not only acts, but the language of personal address as well, is governed by ideas of politeness which have fundamentally affected the structure of the language, by preventing the development of personal pronouns.

Now what is the cause of this characteristic of the Japanese? It is commonly attributed by writers of the impersonal school to the "impersonality" of the Oriental mind. "Impersonality" is not only the occasion, it is the cause of the politeness of the Japanese people. "Self is suppressed, and an ever-present regard for others is substituted in its stead." "Impersonality, by lessening the interest in one's self, induces one to take interest in others."[CO] Politeness is, in these passages, attributed to the impersonal nature of the Japanese mind. The following quotations show that this characteristic is conceived of as inherent in race and mind structure, not in the social order, as is here maintained. "The nation grew up to man's estate, keeping the mind of its childhood."[CP] "In race characteristics, he is yet essentially the same.... Of these traits ... perhaps the most important is the great quality of impersonality."[CQ] "The peoples inhabiting it [the earth's temperate zone] grow steadily more personal as we go West. So unmistakable is this gradation that one is almost tempted to ascribe it to cosmical rather than human causes.... The essence of the soul of the Far East may be said to be impersonality."[CR]

In his chapter on "Imagination," Mr. Lowell seeks to explain the cause of the "impersonality" of the Orient. He attributes it to their marked lack of the faculty of "imagination"—the faculty of forming new and original ideas. Lacking this faculty, there has been relatively little stimulus to growth, and hence no possibility of differentiation and thus of individualization.

If politeness were due to the "impersonal" nature of the race mind, it would be impossible to account for the rise and decline of Japanese etiquette, for it should have existed from the beginning, and continued through all time, nor could we account for the gross impoliteness that is often met with in recent years. The Japanese themselves deplore the changes that have taken place. They testify that the older forms of politeness were an integral element of the feudal system and were too often a thin veneer of manner by no means expressive of heart interest. None can be so absolutely rude as they who are masters of the forms of politeness, but have not the kindly heart. The theory of "impersonality" does not satisfactorily account for the old-time politeness of Japan.

The explanation here offered for the development and decline of politeness is that they are due to the nature of the social order. Thoroughgoing feudalism long maintained, with its social ranks and free use of the sword, of necessity develops minute unwritten rules of etiquette; without the universal observance of these customs, life would be unbearable and precarious, and society itself would be impossible. Minute etiquette is the lubricant of a feudal social order. The rise and fall of Japan's phenomenal system of feudal etiquette is synchronous with that of her feudal system, to which it is due rather than to the asserted "impersonality" of the race mind.

The impersonal theory is amazingly blind to adverse phenomena. Such a one is the marked sensitiveness of the middle and upper classes to the least slight or insult. The gradations of social rank are scrupulously observed, not only on formal occasions, but also in the homes at informal and social gatherings. Failure to show the proper attention, or the use of language having an insufficient number of honorific particles and forms, would be instantly interpreted as a personal slight, if not an insult.[CS]

Now if profuse courtesy is a proof of "impersonality," as its advocates argue, what does morbid sensitiveness prove but highly developed personality? But then arises the difficulty of understanding how the same individuals can be both profusely polite and morbidly sensitive at one and the same time? Instead of inferring "impersonality" from the fact of politeness, from the two facts of sensitiveness and politeness we may more logically infer a considerable degree of personality. Yet I would not lay much stress on this argument, for oftentimes (or is it always true?) the weaker and more insignificant the person, the greater the sensitiveness. Extreme sensitiveness is as natural and necessary a product of a highly developed feudalism as is politeness, and neither is particularly due to the high or the low development of personality.

Similarly with respect to the question of altruism, which is practically identified with politeness by expounders of Oriental "impersonality." They make this term (altruism) the virtual equivalent of "impersonality"—interest in others rather than in self, an interest due, according to their view, to a lack of differentiation of the individual minds; the individuals, though separate, still retain the universalism of the original mind-stuff. This use of the term altruism makes it a very different thing from the quality or characteristic which in the West is described by this term.

But granting that this word is used with a legitimate meaning, we ask, is altruism in this sense an inherent quality of the Japanese race? Let the reader glance back to our discussion of the possession by the Japanese of sympathy, and the humane feelings.[CT] We saw there marked proofs of their lack. The cruelty of the old social order was such as we can hardly realize. Altruism that expresses itself only in polite forms, and does not strive to alleviate the suffering of fellow-men, can have very little of that sense, which this theory requires. So much as to the fact. Then as to the theory. If this alleged altruism were inherent in the mental structure, it ought to be a universal characteristic of the Japanese; it should be all-pervasive and permanent. It should show itself toward the foreigner as well as toward the native. But such is far from the case. Few foreigners have received a hearty welcome from the people at large. They are suspected and hated; as little room as possible is made for them. The less of their presence and advice, the better. So far as there is any interest in them, it is on the ground of utility, and not of inherent good will because of a feeling of aboriginal unity. Of course there are many exceptions to these statements, especially among the Christians. But such is the attitude of the people as a whole, especially of the middle and upper classes toward the foreigners.

If we turn our attention to the opposite phase of Japanese character, namely their selfishness, their self-assertiveness, and their aggressiveness, whether as a nation or as individuals, and consider at the same time the recent rise of this spirit, we are again impressed both with the narrow range of facts to which the advocates of "impersonality" call our attention, and also with the utter insufficiency of their theory to account for the facts they overlook. According to the theory of altruism and "impersonality," these are characteristics of undeveloped races and individuals, while the reverse characteristics, those of selfishness and self-assertiveness, are the products of a later and higher development, marks of strong personality. But neither selfishness nor individual aggressiveness is a necessary element of developed "personality." If it were, children who have never been trained by cultivated mothers, but have been allowed to have their own way regardless of the rights or desires of others, are more highly developed in "personality" than the adult who has, through a long life of self-discipline and religious devotion, become regardless of his selfish interests and solicitous only for the welfare of others. If the high development of altruism is equivalent to the development of "impersonality," then those in the West who are renowned for humanity and benevolence are "impersonal," while robbers and murderers and all who are regardless of the welfare of others are possessed of the most highly developed "personality." And it also follows that highly developed altruistic benefactors of mankind are such, after all, because they are undeveloped,—their minds are relatively undifferentiated,—hence their fellow-feeling and kindly acts. There is a story of some learned wit who met a half-drunken boor; the latter plunged ahead, remarking, "I never get out of the way of a fool"; to which the quick reply came, "I always do." According to this argument based on self-assertive aggressiveness, the boor was the man possessed of a strong personality, while the gentleman was relatively "impersonal." If pure selfishness and aggressiveness are the measure of personality, then are not many of the carnivorous animals endowed with a very high degree of "personality"?

The truth is, a comprehensive and at the same time correct contrast between the East and the West cannot be stated in terms of personality and impersonality. They fail not only to take in all the facts, but they fail to explain even the facts they take in. Such a contrast of the East and the West can be stated only in the terms of communalism and individualism. As we have already seen,[CU] every nation has to pass through the communal stage, in order to become a nation at all. The families and tribes of which it is composed need to become consolidated in order to survive in the struggle for existence with surrounding families, tribes, and nations. In this stage the individual is of necessity sunk out of sight in the demands of the community. This secures indeed a species of altruism, but of a relatively low order. It is communal altruism which nature compels on pain of extermination. This, however, is very different from the altruism of a high religious experience and conscious ethical devotion. This latter is volitional, the product of character. This altruism can arise chiefly in a social order where individualism to a large extent has gained sway. It is this variety of altruism that characterizes the West, so far as the West is altruistic. But on the other hand, in a social order in which individualism has full swing, the extreme of egoistic selfishness can also find opportunity for development. It is accordingly in the West that extreme selfishness, the most odious of sins, is seen at its best, or rather its worst.

So again we see that selfish aggressiveness and an exalted consciousness of one's individuality or separateness are not necessary marks of developed personality, nor their opposite the marks of undeveloped personality—so-called "impersonality." On the contrary, the reverse statement would probably come nearer the truth. He who is intensely conscious of the great unities of nature and of human nature, of the oneness that unites individuals to the nation and to the race, and who lives a corresponding life of goodness and kindness, is by far the more developed personality. But the manifestations of personality will vary much with the nature of the social order. This may change with astonishing rapidity. Such a change has come over the social order of the Japanese nation during the past thirty years, radically modifying its so-called impersonal features. Their primitive docility, their politeness, their marriage customs, their universal adoption of Chinese thoughts, language, and literature, and now, in recent times, their rejection of the Chinese philosophy and science, their assertiveness in Korea and China and their aggressive attitude toward the whole world—all these multitudinous changes and complete reversals of ideals and customs, point to the fact that the former characteristics of their civilization were not "impersonal," but communal, and that they rested on social development rather than on inherent nature or on deficient mental differentiation.

A common illustration of Japanese "impersonality," depending for its force wholly on invention, is the deficiency of the Japanese language in personal pronouns and its surplus of honorifics. At first thought this argument strikes one as very strong, as absolutely invincible indeed. Surely, if there is a real lack of personal pronouns, is not that proof positive that the people using the language, nay, the authors of the language, must of necessity be deficient in the sense of personality? And if the verbs in large numbers are impersonal, does not that clinch the matter? But further consideration of the argument and its illustrations gradually shows its weakness. At present I must confess that the argument seems to me utterly fallacious, and for the sufficient reason that the personal element is introduced, if not always explicitly yet at least implicitly, in almost every sentence uttered. The method of its expression, it is true, is quite different from that adopted by Western languages, but it is none the less there. It is usually accomplished by means of the titles, "honorific" particles, and honorific verbs and nouns. "Honorable shoes" can't by any stretch of the imagination mean shoes that belong to me; every Japanese would at once think "your shoes"; his attention is not distracted by the term "honorable" as is that of the foreigner; the honor is largely overlooked by the native in the personal element implied. The greater the familiarity with the language the more clear it becomes that the impressions of "impersonality" are due to the ignorance of the foreigner rather than to the real "impersonal" character of the Japanese thought or mind. In the Japanese methods of linguistic expression, politeness and personality are indeed, inextricably interwoven; but they are not at all confused. The distinctions of person and the consciousness of self in the Japanese thought are as clear and distinct as they are in the English thought. In the Japanese sentence, however, the politeness and the personality cannot be clearly separated. On that account, however, there is no more reason for denying one element than the other.

So far from the deficiency of personal pronouns being a proof of Japanese "impersonality," i.e., of lack of consciousness of self, this very deficiency may, with even more plausibility, be used to establish the opposite view. Child psychology has established the fact that an early phenomenon of child mental development is the emphasis laid on "meum" and "tuum," mine and yours. The child is a thoroughgoing individualist in feelings, conceptions, and language. The first personal pronoun is ever on his lips and in his thought. Only as culture arises and he is trained to see how disagreeable in others is excessive emphasis on the first person, does he learn to moderate his own excessive egoistic tendency. Is it not a fact that the studied evasion of first personal pronouns by cultured people in the West is due to their developed consciousness of self? Is it possible for one who has no consciousness of self to conceive as impolite the excessive use of egoistic forms of speech? From this point of view we might argue that, because of the deficiency of her personal pronouns, the Japanese nation has advanced far beyond any other nation in the process of self-consciousness. But this too would be an error. Nevertheless, so far from saying that the lack of personal pronouns is a proof of the "impersonality" of the Japanese, I think we may fairly use it as a disproof of the proposition.

The argument for the inherent impersonality of the Japanese mind because of the relative lack of personal pronouns is still further undermined by the discovery, not only of many substitutes, but also of several words bearing the strong impress of the conception of self. There are said to be three hundred words which may be used as personal pronouns—"Boku," "servant," is a common term for "I," and "kimi," "Lord," for "you"; these words are freely used by the student class. Officials often use "Konata," "here," and "Anata," "there," for the first and second persons. "Omaye," "honorably in front," is used both condescendingly and honorifically; "you whom I condescend to allow in my presence," and "you who confer on me the honor of entering your presence." The derivation of the most common word for I, "Watakushi," is unknown, but, in addition to its pronominal use, it has the meaning of "private." It has become a true personal pronoun and is freely used by all classes.

In addition to the three hundred words which may be used as personal pronouns the Japanese language possesses an indefinite number of ways for delicately suggesting the personal element without its express utterance. This is done either by subtle praise, which can then only refer to the person addressed or by more or less bald self-depreciation, which can then only refer to the first person. "Go kanai," "honorable within the house," can only mean, according to Japanese etiquette, "your wife," or "your family," while "gu-sai," "foolish wife," can only mean "my wife." "Gufu," "foolish father," "tonji," "swinish child," and numberless other depreciatory terms such as "somatsu na mono," "coarse thing," and "tsumaranu mono," "worthless thing," according to the genius of the language can only refer to the first person, while all appreciative and polite terms can only refer to the person addressed. The terms, "foolish," "swinish," etc., have lost their literal sense and mean now no more than "my," while the polite forms mean "yours." To translate these terms, "my foolish wife," "my swinish son," is incorrect, because it twice translates the same word. In such cases the Japanese thought is best expressed by using the possessive pronoun and omitting the derogative adjective altogether. Japanese indirect methods for the expression of the personal relation are thus numberless and subtile. May it not be plausibly argued since the European has only a few blunt pronouns wherewith to state this idea while the Japanese has both numberless pronouns and many other delicate ways of conveying the same idea, that the latter is far in advance of the European in the development of personality? I do not use this argument, but as an argument it seems to me much more plausible than that which infers from the paucity of true pronouns the absence, or at least the deficiency, of personality.

Furthermore, Japanese possesses several words for self. "Onore," "one's self," and "Ware," "I or myself," are pure Japanese, while "Ji" (the Chinese pronunciation for "onore"), "ga," "self," and "shi" (the Chinese pronunciation of "watakushi," meaning private) are Sinico-Japanese words, that is, Chinese derived words. These Sinico-Japanese terms are in universal use in compound words, and are as truly Japanese as many Latin, Greek and Norman-derived words are real English. "Ji-bun," "one's self"; "jiman," "self-satisfaction"; "ji-fu," "self-assertion"; "jinin," "self-responsibility"; "ji-bo ji-ki," "self-destruction, self-abandonment"; "ji-go ji-toku," "self-act, self-reward"—always in a bad sense; "ga-yoku," "selfish desire"; "ga-shin," "selfish heart"; "ga we oru," "self-mastery"; "muga," "unselfish"; "shi-shin shi-yoku," "private or self-heart, private or self-desire," that is, selfishness"; "shi-ai shi-shin," "private-or self-love, private-or-self heart," i.e., selfishness—these and countless other compound words involving the conception of self, can hardly be explained by the "impersonal," "altruistic" theory of Japanese race mind and language. In truth, if this theory is unable to explain the facts it recognizes, much less can it account for those it ignores.

To interpret correctly the phenomena we are considering, we must ask ourselves how personal pronouns have arisen in other languages. Did the primitive Occidental man produce them outright from the moment that he discovered himself? Far from it. There are abundant reasons for believing that every personal pronoun is a degenerate or, if you prefer, a developed noun. Pronouns are among the latest products of language, and, in the sphere of language, are akin to algebraic symbols in the sphere of mathematics or to a machine in the sphere of labor. A pronoun, whether personal, demonstrative, or relative, is a wonderful linguistic invention, enabling the speaker to carry on long trains of unbroken thought. Its invention was no more connected with the sense of self, than was the invention of any labor-saving device. The Japanese language is even more defective for lack of relative pronouns than it is for lack of personal pronouns. Shall we argue from this that the Japanese people have no sense of relation? Of course personal pronouns could not arise without or before the sense of self, but the problem is whether the sense of self could arise without or exist before that particular linguistic device, the personal pronoun? On this problem the Japanese language and civilization throw conclusive light.

The fact is that the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxon and Japanese peoples parted company so long ago that in the course of their respective linguistic evolutions, not only have all common terms been completely eliminated, but even common methods of expression. The so-called Indo-European races hit upon one method of sentence structure, a method in which pronouns took an important part and the personal pronoun was needed to express the personal element, while the Japanese hit upon another method which required little use of pronouns and which was able to express the personal element wholly without the personal pronoun. The sentence structure of the two languages is thus radically different.

Now the long prevalent feudal social order has left its stamp on the Japanese language no less than on every other feature of Japanese civilization. Many of the quasi personal pronouns are manifestly of feudal parentage. Under the new civilization and in contact with foreign peoples who can hardly utter a sentence without a personal pronoun, the majority of the old quasi personal pronouns are dropping out of use, while those in continued use are fast rising to the position of full-fledged personal pronouns. This, however, is not due to the development of self-consciousness on the part of the people, but only to the development of the language in the direction of complete and concise expression of thought. It would be rash to say that the feudal social order accounts for the lack of pronouns, personal or others, from the Japanese language, but it is safe to maintain that the feudal order, with its many gradations of social rank, minute etiquette, and refined and highly developed personal sensitiveness would adopt and foster an impersonal and honorific method of personal allusion. Even though we may not be able to explain the rise of the non-pronominal method of sentence structure, it is enough if we see that this is a problem in the evolution of language, and that Japanese pronominal deficiency is not to be attributed to lack of consciousness of self, much less to the inherent "impersonality" of the Japanese mind.

An interesting fact ignored by advocates of the "impersonal" theory is the Japanese inability of conceiving nationality apart from personality. Not only is the Emperor conceived as the living symbol of Japanese nationality, but he is its embodiment and substance. The Japanese race is popularly represented to be the offspring of the royal house. Sovereignty resides completely and absolutely in him. Authority to-day is acknowledged only in those who have it from him. Popular rights are granted the people by him, and exist because of his will alone. A single act of his could in theory abrogate the constitution promulgated in 1889 and all the popular rights enjoyed to-day by the nation. The Emperor of Japan could appropriate, without in the least shocking the most patriotic Japanese, the long-famous saying of Louis XIV., "L'etat, c'est moi." Mr. H. Kato, ex-president of the Imperial University, in a recent work entitled the "Evolution of Morality and Law" says this in just so many words: "Patriotism in this country means loyalty to the throne. To the Japanese, the Emperor and the country are the same. The Emperor of Japan, without the slightest exaggeration, can say, 'L'etat, c'est moi.' The Japanese believe that all their happiness is bound up with the Imperial line and have no respect for any system of morality or law that fails to take cognizance of this fact."

Mr. Yamaguchi, professor of history in the Peeresses' School and lecturer in the Imperial Military College, thus writes in the Far East: "The sovereign power of the State cannot be dissociated from the Imperial Throne. It lasts forever along with the Imperial line of succession, unbroken for ages eternal. If the Imperial House cease to exist, the Empire falls." "According to our ideas the monarch reigns over and governs the country in his own right.... Our Emperor possesses real sovereignty and also exercises it. He is quite different from other rulers, who possess but a partial sovereignty." This is to-day the universally accepted belief in Japan. It shows clearly that national unity and sovereignty are not conceived in Japan apart from personality.

One more point demands our attention before bringing this chapter to a close. If "impersonality" were an inherent characteristic of Japanese race nature, would it be possible for strong personalities to arise?

Mr. Lowell has described in telling way a very common experience. "About certain people," he says, "there exists a subtle something which leaves its impress indelibly upon the consciousness of all who come in contact with them. This something is a power, but a power of so indefinable a description that we beg definition by calling it simply the personality of the man.... On the other hand, there are people who have no effect upon us whatever. They come and they go with a like indifference.... And we say that the difference is due to the personality or the want of personality of the man."[CV] The first thing to which I would call attention is the fact that "personality" is here used in its true sense. It has no exclusive reference to consciousness of self, nor does it signify the effect of self-consciousness on the consciousness of another. It here has reference to those inherent qualities of thinking and feeling and willing which we have seen to be the essence of personality. These qualities, possessed in a marked way or degree, make strong personalities. Their relative lack constitutes weak personality. Bare consciousness of self is a minor evidence of personality and may be developed to a morbid degree in a person who has a weak personality.

In the second place this distinction between weak and strong personalities is as true of the Japanese as of the Occidental. There have been many commanding persons in Japanese history; they have been the heroes of the land. There are such to-day. The most commanding personality of recent times was, I suppose, Takamori Saigo, whose very name is an inspiration to tens of thousands of the choicest youth of the nation. Joseph Neesima was such a personality. The transparency of his purpose, the simplicity of his personal aim, his unflinching courage, fixedness of belief, lofty plans, and far-reaching ambitions for his people, impressed all who came into contact with him. No one mingles much with the Japanese, freely speaking with them in their own language, but perceives here and there men of "strong personality" in the sense of the above-quoted passage. Now it seems to me that if "impersonality" in the corresponding sense were a race characteristic, due to the nature of their psychic being, then the occurrence of so many commanding personalities in Japan would be inexplicable. Heroes and widespread hero-worship[CW] could hardly arise were there no commanding personalities. The feudal order lent itself without doubt to the development of such a spirit. But the feudal order could hardly have arisen or even maintained itself for centuries without commanding personalities, much less could it have created them. The whole feudal order was built on an exalted oligarchy. It was an order which emphasized persons, not principles; the law of the land was not the will of the multitudes, but of a few select persons. While, therefore, it is beyond dispute that the old social order was communal in type, and so did not give freedom to the individual, nor tend to develop strong personality among the masses, it is also true that it did develop men of commanding personality among the rulers. Those who from youth were in the hereditary line of rule, sons of Shoguns, daimyos, and samurai, were forced by the very communalism of the social order to an exceptional personal development. They shot far ahead of the common man. Feudalism is favorable to the development of personality in the favored few, while it represses that of the masses. Individualism, on the contrary, giving liberty of thought and act, with all that these imply, is favorable to the development of the personality of all.

In view of the discussions of this chapter, is it not evident that advocates of the "impersonal" theory of Japanese mind and civilization not only ignore many important elements of the civilization they attempt to interpret, but also base their interpretation on a mistaken conception of personality? We may not, however, leave the discussion at this point, for important considerations still demand our attention if we would probe this problem of personality to its core.



Advocates of Japanese "impersonality" call attention to the phenomena of self-suppression in religion. It seems strange, however, that they who present this argument fail to see how "self-suppression" undermines their main contention. If "self-suppression" be actually attained, it can only be by a people advanced so far as to have passed through and beyond the "personal" stage of existence. "Self-suppression" cannot be a characteristic of a primitive people, a people that has not yet reached the stage of consciousness of self. If the alleged "impersonality" of the Orient is that of a primitive people that has not yet reached the stage of self-consciousness, then it cannot have the characteristic of "self-suppression." If, on the other hand, it is the "impersonality" of "self-suppression," then it is radically different from that of a primitive people. Advocates of "impersonality" present both conceptions, quite unconscious apparently that they are mutually exclusive. If either conception is true, the other is false.

Furthermore, if self-suppression is a marked characteristic of Japanese politeness and altruism (as it undoubtedly is when these qualities are real expressions of the heart and of the general character), it is a still more characteristic feature of the higher religious life of the people, which certainly does not tend to "impersonality." The ascription of esoteric Buddhism to the common people by advocates of the "impersonal" theory is quite a mistake, and the argument for the "impersonality" of the race on this ground is without foundation, for the masses of the people are grossly polytheistic, wholly unable to understand Buddhistic metaphysics, or to conceive of the nebulous, impersonal Absolute of Buddhism. Now if consciousness of the unity of nature, and especially of the unity of the individual soul with the Absolute, were a characteristic of undeveloped, that is, of undifferentiated mind, then all primitive peoples should display it in a superlative degree. It should show itself in every phase of their life. The more primitive the people, the more divine their life—because the less differentiated from the original divine mind! Such are the requirements of this theory. But what are the facts? The primitive undeveloped mind is relatively unconscious of self; it is wholly objective; it is childlike; it does not even know that there is self to suppress. Primitive religion is purely objective. Implicit, in primitive religion without doubt, is the fact of a unity between God and man, but the primitive man has not discovered this implication of his religious thinking. This is the state of mind of a large majority of Japanese.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse