Since only intellectual doctrines change

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since only intellectual doctrines change substantially, they must be the source of progress. American Journal of Sociology 1216
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As this summary makes clear, both Buckle and Fukuzawa confused change with progress. That change of knowledge is inevitably progressive is a mere assumption precisely the assumption that Japanese conser- vatives disputed. Moreover, both men had their history profoundly wrong. The notion that morality is constant while knowledge is changing could be sustained only de fi nitionally, by allocating all changing cultural under- standing of social life to the realm of intellect, as a technology of society. Thus, jurisprudence, as a form of understanding and governing human affairs, is intellect, while religious practice is morality. In the second section Fukuzawa makes even less use of the vocabulary of individualism. Like Durkheim after him, he notes the constancy of national suicide statistics (which come to him from Adolphe Quetelet via Buckle). He downplays great-man history. He argues that the national spirit is found by averaging individuals spirits an almost statistical notion. But for Fu- kuzawa more important in fact more or less identical with this national spirit is the trend of the times. The great men succeed because they are in tune with the trend of the times, and conversely even a gifted man can- not succeed unless he is in tune with the trend of the times. This position rapidly veers toward the idea that success must necessarily signify agree- ment between man and moment, a view that Fukuzawa had already rid- iculed in its Chinese version as the theory of the mandate of heaven and that was identi fi ed as profoundly conservative in the West (cf., Alexander Pope s dictum Whatever is, is right. ) But even this national average trend of the times quickly disappears. By the fi fth chapter, Fukuzawa is arguing that what we mean by national or public opinion is, in reality, the views of the intelligent minority among the middle and upper classes; the ignorant majority simply follow behind like sheep and never dare to give free rein to their ignorance (p. 83). It is unclear whether this passage describes a current but temporary empirical reality or a valued terminal state of affairs. Indeed, by later in this chapter, Fukuzawa has moved to the position that men like himself educated lower samurai interested in westernization and beating the West at its own game are the ones in tune with the times (by which we infer that he means in tune not with the average of Japanese opinion but with the reality of Western dominance). And even public opinion he views from the top down: This process [of opinion formation] is like a certain number of soldiers forming a regiment, a number of regiments forming a battalion, and a number of battalions constituting a great army (pp. 93 94).
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  • '17
  • Fukuzawa

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