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2022年5月26日 (木)

"Faith in Theory" versus "Faith in Reality"( Masao Maruyama )

The following is an English translation of pp. 52-62 of Masao Maruyama, Nihon no shiso (The Idea of Japan), 1961, Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten.

The reason for this partial translation is that the subject matter raised in the book is a prominent one that has been frequently referred to in Japanese discourse from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. However, I do not believe that there is only an intellectual-historical problem in the specific historical context of postwar Japan. The rise of Marxism after World War II was a worldwide phenomenon. It is hard to imagine now, but Marxism was the leading intellectual item in the intellectual salons in the West at that time. I might add that in my personal assessment of this discussion, I feel there is a possibility of invoking a more universal set of issues apart from those, but I will post that as a separate article when I am ready.
Masao Maruyama, Nihon no shiso (The Idea of Japan), 1961, Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten

Masao Maruyama, The Idea of Japan, 1961, Tokyo, Iwanami Shoten
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Idea of Japan (pp.1-66)
Preface: Lack of Ideological Coordinates in Japan, etc.
1. The Premature Appearance of Ideological Exposure, etc.
2. The Unlimited Responsibility of Subjects in "Kokutai", etc.
3. The System of Irresponsibility in the Emperor System, etc.
4. [English translation below of this article: Blogger's Note].
Chapter 2: Thought and Literature in Modern Japan: A Case Study (pp.67-122)
Preface: Politics-Science-Literature, etc.
1. How to Formulate the Problem of Literature and Politics at the End of the Meiji Era, etc.
2. Political and Scientific Totalism in Proletarian Literary Theory, etc.
3. The Search for "Autonomy" in Each Cultural Domain, etc.
Chapter 3: On the State of Ideas (pp.123-152)
Humans rely on images to make judgments
New reality created by images
The emergence of cloak-and-dagger language in organizations and the precipitation of prejudice
The flood of victim consciousness, etc.
Chapter 4 "Being" and "Doing" (pp.153-180)
Those who "sleep on their rights"
"Being" society and "being" morality
The Social Rise of "Doing" Organizations
The perversion of the value of "doing" and the value of "being," etc.

Masao Maruyama, Nihon no Shiso (The Idea of Japan), 1961 Iwanami Shinsho, Chapter I, "The Idea of Japan", Section 4 (pp. 52-62)

"Conflict between two modes of thought," ibid., p. 52.

 The situation described above, i.e., on the one hand, the deification of the system, which is unaware of its "limits," and on the other hand, the adherence to a "state of nature" (actuality) that does not raise itself to the level of normative consciousness, emerged as the progress of Japan's modernization as an almost unbridgeable opposition between the bureaucratic way of thinking and the common people (in the sense distinguished from citizens) or loafer-like (in Arishima Takehiro's terminology) way of thinking. This is what forms the Japanese pattern of "organization and people. Moreover, since they function in completely different dimensions and cannot be mediated ideologically, they can coexist in the same person and be used differently depending on the situation, or they can serve the same purpose, intentionally or unintentionally, from different directions. This is the bipolarization of the opportunity that was originally inherent in and delicately balanced by the "modernity" of Japan itself, although it became more divergent as the contradictions of modernization intensified. Thus, the irreconcilable parallel between the "traditional" thought patterns of the social sciences in Japan and the more traditional belief in "reality" in literature also seems to be traced back to the same root.

The Problem of Belief in Reality," ibid., p.53.

 Modern Japanese literature began with a strenuous search to grasp the reality of the ego while being caught between the two enormous forces that drove Japan's "modernity": "いえ das Haus" style assimilation and "官僚的機構化" (bureaucratic institutionalization). Moreover, the Japanese language is characterized by (i) its abundance of words that express sensory nuances, but its lack of expressions that express logical and universal concepts, and (ii) its extremely refined style of expressing the subtly fluctuating "feelings" of the four seasons by entrusting one's emotions to nature or observing one's behavior in minute detail. (iii) The fact that realism was born only as the antithesis of the principle of good and evil, and was not based on the rational spirit (classicism) or the spirit of natural science, and therefore it was easily connected to the tradition of absolutization of facts and adherence to direct sensation in nationalistic studies, and the fact that the sense of normality in the ego-consciousness was easily connected to the tradition of the absolutization of facts and adherence to direct sensation. (iv) Literary figures (apart from those like Ogai) were either dropouts from the bureaucratic ladder or fugitives from their immediate environment (home and hometown), or else they often entered literature to supplement their frustration with political movements. In any case, they recognized themselves and others as "superfluous" and outside of the "normal" channels of the Japanese imperial system, and were therefore not connected to institutional modernization. In this sense, they had to go beyond their conscious standpoint and lean heavily toward "traditional" feelings and aesthetics.
 The anti-scholasticism, which is embryonic in the aforementioned antipathy and disdain (sometimes complex) for status and honor in "mature society," is backed by a kind of Buddhist pessimism, which is a kind of "mundane world" = "world of phenomena" = "world of concepts" = "world of norms" = "world of concepts" = "world of phenomena" = "world of norms" = "world of concepts"). This equation of the mundane world = the world of phenomena = the world of concepts = the world of norms (laws) has increasingly "traditionalized" the opposition to rational and legalistic thinking. Moreover, modern Japan as a whole is too dependent on the achievements of natural science and technology to reject the natural scientific intellect itself outright, as the European Romantics did, and the Japanese literati do not possess the intensity (or stubbornness) of spirit to question its certainty. Thus, only the undeniable realm of natural science at one extreme and the narrow, everyday reality that can be touched by the senses at the other extreme remain as the only certainties in the world. Literary realization is satisfied only in this latter narrow world of the everyday senses, or else when the absolute ego transcends time and space and grasps with "free" intuition the momentary glimmering light of truth. The world of "society," which intervenes between the two, is inherently ambiguous, open to any interpretation, and is after all merely a fluctuating phenomenon. The ultimate choice comes down to either 2 x 2 = 4 or a matter of style! (Hideo Kobayashi, "Letter to X")

"The Significance of Marxism in the History of Ideology in Japan," p.55

 This way of thinking, which sniffs out "filthy abstractions" in all political and social ideologies and hides itself in the reality of the ego, once surrounded by an overwhelmingly huge political reality (war, for example), absolutizes it with the same "soberness" as one would feel toward a natural reality. I will not go into the details of this process here. Instead, I will conclude with a summary of the problematic nature of the intellectual structure of modern Japan by discussing the issue of Marxism, which in Japan has traditionally represented social scientific thinking and inspired the resistance of literary "reality," in relation to the above theme.
 Although the fact that Marxism has been the sole representative of the social sciences has been a cause of tragedy, as I will explain later, there was a certain inevitability to it. First, the Japanese intellectual world learned for the first time how to consider social reality not only in terms of politics, law, philosophy, and economics, but also in a comprehensive manner by relating them to each other. We learned not only how to determine individual facts from historical data or the rise and fall of a leading figure, but also to seek the basic driving forces behind various historical events. This perspective of integrated social science and structural historiography existed in the early Meiji period when Comte, Rousseau, Spencer, Buckle, and others were transplanted, but it was not until the consolidation process of the Emperor System and the rapid progress of individualization and specialization of the social sciences in Europe since the 19th century that the academies began to specialize from the outset. While the various departments of the academy embraced such specialized forms of study from the beginning, journalism was increasingly popularized, and thus was one day lost to the intellectual world. Herein lay one of the great academic attractions of Marxism.
 Second, in connection with the above, Marxism made it clear that no scientific study can be completely unpresupposed, and that the scientist, consciously or not, proceeds with intellectual operations on the basis of certain value choices. Marxism, in the drastic form of "partisanship," imposed on all scientists the inseparable relationship between science and ideology, which until now had only been conceptually recognized in philosophy. Moreover, its ideology did not interpret the world in various ways, but made it its inevitable task to transform the world. The logic that should have been inherent in the modern intellect since Descartes and Bacon, which is that theory becomes the lever that moves reality only when it logically reconstructs the world by isolating the subject of cognition from reality as a direct given and standing in sharp tension with it, was first introduced in our country by Marxism on a large scale. It is no exaggeration to say that it was first awakened on a large scale in Japan by Marxism. Furthermore, in Japan, which did not have a Christian tradition, it was Marxism that taught on a social scale that thought was not merely an object of spiritual enjoyment in a library, but that the responsibility of the human personality was at stake. Even if the mass conversion of communists, as mentioned above, took place mostly in the traditional form in terms of the mode of thought, the fact that ideological conversion remained in various forms (even in a negative form) as an affliction of conscience is something that has never been seen in "thought," at least not up to this point. Marxism was a major force in Japan's intellectual life. It is clear how cynical it is to attribute the deep imprint that Marxism has made on the inner life of Japanese intellectuals to the novelty and intellectual curiosity of the Japanese people, just as it does to all other high-caliber thought.

"The Emergence of Belief in Theory," ibid., p. 57.

 However, the fact that Marxism has such enormous ideological and historical significance in Japan was itself another cause of tragedy and misfortune. The logic of early modern rationalism, the conscience of Christianity, and the spirit of experimental manipulation of modern science - what kind of worldview can fulfill all three of these tasks, which are the tradition of modern Western thought and are also implicitly and explicitly assumed by Marxism? It would not be surprising if Japanese Marxism were unable to bear the burden and became addicted to it. To put it another way, first of all, Marxism has taken on the resistance and opposition to its theoretical, conceptual, and abstract works from the Japanese sensibility. Second, Marxism is not necessarily limited to Marxists, but is more or less common among philosophers, social scientists, and thinkers in general, and is more or less common among a wide readership of readers other than specialists, politicians, businessmen, military officers, journalists, etc., who place importance on philosophy and social science as "culture. The tendency toward the worship of a material god of theory or ideology, which is more evident in the importance that Marxism attaches to philosophy and social science as "culture," has come to be seen as peculiar to Marxism, even though Marxism is extremely systematic. Just as Marxism monopolized the "problem of ideas," officialism is still considered today as if it were the monopoly of Marxism. In doing so, the meaning and function of "official" are rarely reflected upon, and the question of whether or not the principles, worldviews, and doctrines other than Marxism, when understood and adhered to in Japanese soil, are no less officialist than Marxism is often overlooked.
 The emergence of theoretical faith corresponds mentally and structurally to the deification of institutions. In parallel, modern Japan has accepted institutions or "mechanisms" as ready-made products, rather than from the spirit of their creation, a spirit in which a free subject conceptually arranges and reconstructs objects through constant verification based on strict methodological awareness. Parallel to this, the result of abstraction is more important here than the act of abstraction from reality. Theories and concepts thereby lose their fictional meaning and are transformed into a kind of reality. This is why foreign teachers are often surprised at the irony of the fact that Japanese university students and intellectuals are better than their Western counterparts at manipulating concepts by combining various categories of "abstraction.
 However, it is only natural that theories thus laid out on the same plane as reality look shabby compared to the fertile reality [blogger's note: see author's note and blogger's note at the end of this article]. Especially for the literati who are closely connected to the aforementioned "reality," it is considered almost intolerable mental violence. As formulas become formulaic, opposition to them also manifests itself as contempt for the formulas themselves, creating a vicious cycle in which faith in reality and faith in theory are inextricably linked.
 Third, however, we must not overlook the fact that the peculiar Marxist view of the total worldview in terms of the relationship between theory and reality, combined with the thinking style of Japanese intellectuals, further increased the tendency toward the deification of theory. As is well known, Marxism, while inheriting the Hegelian view that the owl of Minerva begins its flight at dusk, i.e., when a certain historical reality has unfolded itself almost completely, philosophy rationally grasps this reality and elevates it to a concept, was founded on the reversal of this view. The establishment of total self-knowledge of the world is the very essence of the philosophy. The source of Marx's demonic energy to theorize the entire process of capitalist production lay in the fact that the establishment of total self-knowledge of the world would be the very proof of its downfall. However, when this idea of total grasp of historical reality took root in Japan, where there is little tradition of thinking of theory as fiction, it often gave rise to a belief in an easy scheduled harmony between theory (or law) and reality.

Blogger's note: Hegel/Marx eschatological (Hebraism = Christian theology) structure. So, it must also be demonic. With "theology," there is zero element of hypothesis or fiction.

"Infinite Responsibility and Irresponsibility in Theory", ibid, p.60

 The task of the theorist is not to merge with reality at once, but to methodically order complex and diverse realities in the light of certain value criteria, so that the ordered perception, no matter how perfect, does not completely encapsulate infinitely complex and diverse realities, nor, so to speak, substitute for reality. It is not, so to speak, a substitute for reality. It is, so to speak, something that has been consciously stripped from reality, or rather, from a minute part of reality, on the theorist's own responsibility. Therefore, while the theorist's eye is focused on the operation of strict abstraction on the one hand, on the other hand, there is always accompanied by a certain regret for the reality that forms an infinite plains outside his object and disappears into the twilight, and a longing for the materials that fall out of the process of operation. This abandonment and a sense of what is left behind cultivates a strict ethical awareness of one's own intellectual operations and arouses the urge to further energetically advance one's theorizing.
 However, the complex of practice (actual experience!) However, in an intellectual climate where theory competes with reality on the same level, whether in the form of a complex against practice (reality!) or in the form of the deification of theory, the Hegelian-Marxian approach described above may produce the following results. On the other hand, since the theoretical standpoint on which one relies inherently grasps or can grasp reality in its totality, the limitation of responsibility disappears, and the pretense of unlimited responsibility for unlimited reality actually becomes, on the contrary, theoretical irresponsibility for one's own theories, and even worse, it becomes a form of "humanism" that is ambiguously influenced by humanist sentiments. In the worst case, it is neutralized by ambiguous humanist sentiments, and is not sharply brought to the forefront of consciousness. In Marxism, however, the debt to reality accumulated through total theorization is repaid through a total revolutionary transformation of reality, and this mechanism is only possible if total transformation is on the schedule of reality, or if organizational theory combines spontaneous growth and purposive consciousness. This mechanism can only be realized if total transformation is on the schedule, or if organizational theory effectively promotes the combination of natural growth and purposefulness in each of its dimensions, from daily life to top-level issues. If neither of these conditions is present, and only the deification of theory proceeds, it is almost inevitable that it will turn into either a kind of revolutionary academism in which revolution masturbates in the social sciences and history, or it will appear as an exegetical commentary on the scriptures ("Capitalism").
 As I have said repeatedly, the above problem is not necessarily limited to Marxists in the strict sense of the term, but is a tendency that has accompanied the social sciences in Japan to some extent. Social science, unlike literature, is essentially a world of logic and abstraction, and since it can operate objectively according to the "promises" of science without necessarily penetrating the inner world of one's own psyche (whether that is good or not) - without the mediation of individuality - it can at least be theorized as far as its content is concerned. As far as theoretical content is concerned, there is little moment of direct bondage to the Japanese way of thinking. This is why the division between the objectified theory and the human thought style behind it tends to appear. This is the reason why the difference between the ideas of the social sciences and those of literature appears in the form of the Japanese problem of "Europe" versus "tradition. The real problem is the epistemological character of Japanese "modernity," which is stamped on both sides of the divide. When both social scientists and literary scholars become aware of this, then and only then will a common ground open up for both. This seems to be the first step toward breaking the vicious circle between bureaucratic and loafer-like thinking.

Ibid, p. 62.
Recall the words of Troeltsch on the relationship between institutionalization and reality quoted above. Goethe's famous words, "Theory is gray and reality is green," were also the most beloved words of Lenin, the greatest Marxist theorist of all time. But this saying also has many distorting variations. First, it is a form of justification for the deploring or realization-oriented school that the pursuit of theory does not matter for the essential things in life and is not enough to be a lifetime's work for men, although it is not Futabatei. Third, on the one hand, "adhering" to the scholasticism of theory, and on the other hand, following the "realization" in an opportunistic way, etc., etc. (Since we intellectuals have a common people complex in various forms, when we are confronted with the "real sense of the common people," we tend to go to pieces like Benkei weeping.) Therefore, "faith in theory" and "faith in reality" do not necessarily coexist in the same person.

〔Blogger's Note〕Goethe's "Theory is gray, reality is green. See below for Goethe's "Theory is gray, reality is green.
Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie,Und grun des Lebens goldner Baum.(Mephistopheles): 本に溺れたい


The English translation of this article was supported by DeepL.


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