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2022年5月15日 (日)

Why was European history a scandal? (2)

   Earlier, we uploaded "Why was European history a scandal?" as our blog post. This was an excerpt (pp.37-42)from

Seki Hirono, "Why Capitalism was Born in Europe -Rethinking the History of the West and Japan-," NTT Publishing, March 2016.

 In that quote, Seki Kono uses the word "scandal". The word is used by the author, Seki Hirono, in that line, not in the sense we usually use in everyday language, such as "gossip," but in a more methodological use or context.

 Accordingly, we felt concerned that this misalignment might mislead readers. Therefore, we have decided to upload the original Japanese text and English translation of the "Introduction" (pp. 3-6) of the book, in which Seki Kono himself explains the term "scandal," as an additional article on our blog. Please refer to the following.

This book, pp. 3-6


Introduction -What kind of work is the history of ideas?

The Curse of Past Ideas

 In Japan, there is a famous phrase by Masao Maruyama, "faith in theory or faith in reality". For me, I do not care about the dogmatic theoretical faith of intellectuals and scholars. I believe that they can be left alone because they are refuted by history one way or the other.

 My problem is how intellectuals and scholars who think they are realists are under the spell of various ideas. They are not realists at all, being trapped in the ideas of the past. When Masao Maruyama said people of theoretical faith, he must have had Marxists in mind. However, in my opinion, the typicals are today's economists of various schools of thought who, while calling themselves realists, are actually under the spell of old dogma.

 What is even more problematic is that the common people, the masses, who are supposed to live their lives with a completely simple sense of reality, are also deeply under the spell of ideology. That is the problem. For example, the Japanese modern Emperor System was created by the Meiji government as a system. However, the Japanese people have become accustomed to the existing emperor system. When people become accustomed to a system, they absorb various ideas through their skin and pores in their daily life. In the case of the Emperor System, to be familiar with the system means to be unknowingly inspired by and absorb the ideas that created this system.

 The Emperor System was modeled after the German Empire of the Kaiser (German Emperor). As a result, the common people, who had no knowledge of German thought, were spellbound by the Prussian national philosophy created by Hegel, Stein(Lorenz von,1815-90), and others. Moreover, there is the problem of not being aware of it. For me, the task of the history of ideas is to uncover the various ideas that have been holding the self-proclaimed realist intellectuals and the common people, who are supposed to be actualists, spellbound, and to expose how we have been contaminated by various past ideas, prejudices, prejudices, and hearsay.

The Method of the History of Ideas

 My method of the history of ideas is the same as that of the history of science. The history of science is thought to be a history of discoveries and accumulations of truths, beginning with simple hypotheses, and eventually reaching the ultimate truth. Many general histories of science are written in this way. This is the idea of school education. The history of science is a history of ideas that begins in kindergarten and continues through to university.

 However, the actual history of science is not a history of gradually approaching absolute truth. Science is supposed to emphasize objectivity and positivism, and to perceive the world as it is, but this has not been the case at all. When science perceives a phenomenon, it cannot be based on a mere sense of reality; a theoretical hypothesis is necessary. Only then can phenomena be understood and clarified. Theoretical hypotheses in science are only part of the experimental apparatus. It is not dogma. If an experiment proves to be wrong or useless, the theoretical hypothesis is abandoned. The history of science is a history of struggle against such preconceptions. The French philosopher of science, Bachelard(Gaston, 1884-1962), used the term "epistemological obstacle(obstacle épistémologique)," and it applies.

 It means that scientists have been unconsciously bound by various ideas that cannot be called scientific, even though they have followed the phenomena in a purely objective manner. For example, in the study of eugenics, for example, this is clearly evident. Even in pure theoretical physics, there are many cases where such obstacles have held scientists back. In this sense, the history of science is a history of bringing to light and eliminating the various ideas, prejudices, and preconceptions that have unconsciously held scientists spellbound. And for me, the work of the history of ideas is the same.

 People are, in fact, thought-overloaded, so how can we eliminate this excess of thought and become, let's say, the ultimate thought-free people? If we become the ultimate thoughtless, human thought and reality will be in perfect harmony. This is the ultimate limit, and such a state of being will never be reached. In my opinion, a person's head is already filled with thought when he or she is in elementary school. Sometimes, we are not even aware of it for the rest of our lives. He thinks that various ideas are his simple realization. As a result, we are swept away by thoughts that have already become relics of the past. Therefore, how do we discover and eliminate the ideas that are holding us spellbound? This is the work of the history of ideas. In a sense, the ideal is to be ultimately thoughtless. And that requires a lifetime of practice.

Exposing History as a "Scandal"

 In the case of the history of science, it is only a question of how far scientists have been hobbled by epistemological obstacles, but when it comes to real-life politics, economics, and ideology, the issue cannot be cleared up by a cognitive problem such as the history of science. The power that actually runs society is established as an order of discourse that is bound by such prejudices and preconceptions, and it is a scandal to publicly declare that this order is merely a relic of the past that holds people under a spell. Therefore, a book on the history of ideas must inevitably be a book on scandal.

 I have been exposing history as a scandal since my first book, Plato and Capitalism, in 1987. Plato and Capitalism says that there is an element of scandal at the root of European civilization itself. With this as a starting point, I have dug up one history scandal after another. Most people follow the pattern of schooling, the idea that one gets closer to the truth by starting in kindergarten and going to college, so my books like this are not popular with the masses. The problem with people is that they are overthinking, and it is more of a scandal to the world that I declare that the ultimate no-thought is the ideal.

[renqing note] This point could be evaluated from a different perspective. It is the possibility of a continuity of the national system of history under the Meiji Constitution. See below.
徳川期の「天皇機関説」/ The Constitutionalism of "the Emperor" in Tokugawa Japan: 本に溺れたい

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« なぜヨーロッパ史はスキャンダルになったか(2) | トップページ | For what purpose does our country go to war?, by Akiko Yosano, 1918 »

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« なぜヨーロッパ史はスキャンダルになったか(2) | トップページ | For what purpose does our country go to war?, by Akiko Yosano, 1918 »