SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Blacker, Carmen (1957) Fukuzawa Yukichi: A study in the introduction of Western ideas into Japan in the Meiji period. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

PDF - Submitted Version
Download (26MB) | Preview


Fukuzawa Yukichi's writings have been treated in this study as exanples of the literature of the keimoo movenment - the movement which sought to 'enlighten the darkness' of the Japanese people by urging them to rethink, in the light of Western science, the whole of their traditional way of thought. Though the primary impetus behind the movement Was the need to understand Western science in order to make Japan strong enough to defend herself against the threat of Western aggression and exploitation, the keimoo writers quickly found that a prefer comprehension of science involved drastic changes in other branches of thought seemingly unrelated to science. Fukuzawa's plea that science should be regarded as the basic discipline in the new 'learning' led him to urge that this new learning, and the new view of the external world which it demanded, was incompatible with the old ideas of ethics, of history, of political theory and of international relations. He was hense led to try to give these sweeping changes a 'higher' justification than the mere need for a fukoku-kyoohei - a rich country and a strong army - by positing, with the aid of the Western theory of Progress as revealed in the works of Buckle, Guizot and Herbert Spencer, that increase in scientific knowledge would lead men up a ladder of progress whereby they would become contintiously more knowledgeable and virtuous until they eventually reached the very perfection of human nature. This perfection as described by Fukuzawa, however, was not unlike the perfection of the Neo-Confucians whose opinions Fukuzawa was so anxious to refute. Revered though Fukuzasra became in Japanese intellectual circles, his suggestions for new interpretations of the old virtues - a revised view of filial piety, of loyalty and of conjugal fidelity necessarily complementary, as he claimed, to science - were not destined to become orthodox opinion in Japan for the half-century after his death.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:06

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item