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  • 193.Three Schools Of Thought That Have Impacted Humans Up To The Present
    Three Schools Of Thought: Confucianism, Existential Thoughts Of Socrates, Buddha And Lao-Zhu, And The Monotheism Such As Christianity And Islam) Vs. Φιλοσοφία (Philosophia,”Love of Thinking”)

  • 193.Three Schools Of Thought That Have Impacted Humans Up To The Present
    Three Schools Of Thought: Confucianism, Existential Thoughts Of Socrates, Buddha And Lao-Zhu, And The Monotheism Such As Christianity And Islam) Vs. Φιλοσοφία (Philosophia,”Love of Thinking”)

    translated by Kyoko Saegusa

    Japanese Version =>

    I do not like monotheism, which purports that, “There is only one god,” “God exists,” “the voice of God, “ “Be obedient to God,” and so on. I think monotheism is a troublesome idea.

    Ito Hirobumi and other radicals at the time of Meiji Restoration came up with the kind of pseudo-monotheism (the Emperor as a “living god”), which is a copy of the transcendental deity worship I have described above. I consider this line of thinking absurd and dangerous. At least, it is definitely strange when one tries to measure it by modern common sense.

    There is no question that the basic mission of contemporary education is to make sure the learner won’t develop such a strange state of mind, a mindset that is akin to being possessed. Education must help the learner develop vibrant, free and healthy spirit, and the ability to make sound judgment on her/his own.

    There are three schools of thought that have influenced humans to this day. Let us have an overview of each school.

    The earliest school that appears in history is of Confucius’ from 6th Century B.C. His thought was developed into Confucianism, which in turn led to the formulation of Cheng–Zhu school and Yangmingism. Yangmingism puts an emphasis on practice and action, and it can work positively or negatively. In recent times it was the supporting ideology for Mishima Yukio, who formed Tate no Kai (Shield Society) and subsequently committed seppuku on the premise of the Ichigaya Camp, the Tokyo headquarters of the Eastern Command of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

    Originally, Confucius’ ideal was monarchy, which was already a disintegrated system in his time. He thought monarchy ought to be brought back, and he developed the morality and way of life and thinking for those who were to serve the monarch. His thoughts were compiled into what is known as the Analects. It does contain some wisdom and words of universal goodness, but all in all it shows how to serve those who are above you. Mito School of Thought, which supported the royalism (honoring the lord, the Emperor as a living god) also bases its principles on Confucianism. Its principles are based on feudal ethics that strongly advocates the hierarchical mindset, and it does not fit a democratic society that “acknowledges mutual freedom based on the equality of human existence.”

    Nevertheless, Confucianism still has power over us even now. It is because democratization is slow developing in places such as workplaces and school athletic clubs; feudalistic or totalitarian managerial structures have a strong grip on their members. Japanese culture lacks in substance; it is characterized with just two words: form and ranking. It is because of this deeply rooted negative heritage of Confucianism as religion and as a school of thought



    The next thought to appear 80 years after Confucius was existential thoughts, which was developed in succession in 3 places in the world. The thinkers were Socrates, born in 469 B.C. in Athens in the coast of the Aegean sea; Buddha (463 B.C., according to Dr. Nakamura Gen) in India (Nepal), and Lao Zhu (? c.320 B.C.) of China. I will not go into detail here but all three thinkers advocated that how one lived must be determined by the person from the heart and truthfully, not for the convenience of the nation or the totality (to benefit the ruler).

    To Socrates the idea of absoluteness or strict prohibition did not come into consideration. He strived to reach universally acceptable (to the self and others alike) way of thinking through διαλεκτική(dialectics), which uses one’s own mental capacity and dialogue to reach superior thoughts.

    Buddha (Śākyamuni) said that for every human being there was “only oneself, and this oneself is precious as is.” He made it clear that the truth was that everything happened as a consequence of Nidana (cause, motivation or occasion), and he reached the fundamental idea that one could ultimately only rely on oneself and that was the law (dhammasarano, relying on self, relying on dhamma/dharma). His teachings are filled with benevolence.

    Socrates’ thoughts and those of Buddha’s have affinity with each other, and their basic thought overlaps. This must be because both schools of thought are founded on the mixing and blending of Arian and indigenous thoughts and people. The two were born only a few years apart. After they died, Greek kings and Buddhists had vigorous exchanges in the 3rd century B.C., and many Greek kings became Buddhist. There were meaningful dialogues between the two groups. Neither group had the notion of transcendental god(s), and they trusted humans’ ability to think reflectively when they dialogued, creating concertos of wisdom, as it were.

    The key concept of Lao Zhu of China was, “Don’t try, just be.” He criticized Confucianism, and developed profound thoughts of ecology and feminism that would destroy discriminatory and dictatorial human relationship and bring about peace through the feminine principles. These three thinkers advocated thoughts that deeply acknowledged and cherished the humanity of each and every individual. Their thoughts can be said to be the most fundamental existential thoughts.


    Lastly, there appeared the Christ (son of God) who preached the conversion to the only god, and Muhammad, his younger brother in status who was “the one who delivered God’s teachings.” These two brother religions were borne out of Judaism, the national religion of the Jewish people. Christian faith was born as a reformation of Judaism, and its younger brother is Islam. The intensity of the hatred between the two close brothers is widely known in the history of the long and horrendous religious warfare called the Crusade.

    It is apparent that the idea of obeying and worshipping the absolute god (the Creator) and the existential thoughts I have described above are fundamentally incompatible with each other. Christian churches rehashed Greek philosophy and created an enormous system of theology called Scholasticism. The reformation of it is the modern Western European philosophy starting with Descartes in the 17th century. Japan directly imported West European scholarship in the Meiji Era, and when we say “tetsu-gaku” (philosophy) in Japan it refers to this school of thought. This view of thoughts is only one facet of thinking. Philosophy as Descartes conceived was the reformation of the previously existed theology, although he mentions the proof of the existence of God in the second chapter of his seminal work, Discourse on the Method.

    Modern Western European philosophy is in essence the system of logic that is secularized Christian faith. It therefore inherits the purpose of Scholasticism – to understand the existence of humanity and its world in a comprehensive way. Thus, their logic is doomed to become complicated and hard to understand, to become a system of logic that is a structure made up with words. This reached its peak in the German idealism that peaked with Kant and Hegel.

    It would be an impossible feat to comprehend and explain human existence and the totality of the world in a comprehensive way, unless one resorts to the religious oracle or something. One may say that West European “modern philosophy” was an attempt to achieve such an impossible feat. One can say that its history ended in 1966 with the dialog between Heidegger, who is said to be the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, and Spiegel.

    In the dialog with Spiegel, Heidegger maintained that we could no longer expect anything from philosophy, that cybernetics would occupy the place of the conventional philosophy, and that various branches of science would replace philosophy. He repeatedly said that philosophy was powerless, that the only thing the humankind could do would be to wait for something like “god” in a few hundred years. This meant the failure of Heidegger’s ontology (the total understanding of the humans and the world). We may say that this was his “declaration of the defeat of philosophy.”
    In his late years Heidegger decamped from West European philosophy and became an ardent follower of the thoughts of Japan’s Shinran.

    It can be said that the history of West European modern philosophy began in the 17th century and ended in the 20th century. This philosophy had Christian monotheism as its backbone and began as yearning for the ancient Aegean civilization, as seen in the Renaissance movement. They rehashed Greek philosophy (Φιλοσοφ?α, Philosophia,”love of thinking”) into Christian theology, and built their philosophy upon it. It inevitably was built on quite a contrived structure of thought (metaphysics).

    The Φιλοσοφία, (philosophia,”love of thinking”) that I advocate activates feelings and thoughts in individuals so that people can strive for meaningful life. In everyone’s heart there is innate yearning for goodness, beauty and the pursuit of truth. The way of life I advocate has this “love of thinking” as its unmovable coordinate axis. Thus, it shares the fundamental principle with the 2nd of the 3 schools of thought mentioned above. It supports our day-to-day existence with the attitude, “He that would know what shall be must consider what has been,”which Socrates, Buddha and Lau Zhu taught us. It is a principle that is open and looks to the future.

    Buddhism in Japan shares the same foundation of thought as “love of thinking”, but the nuance differs greatly between the two.

    “Love of thinking” comes from a line of thinking that is realistic, proactive, open and cheerful. At its base is the attitude to learn from the goodness that children possess. It is the realization of neoteny, a characteristic humans possess.

    One significant difference between the two ways of thinking is their understanding of sex. “Love of thinking” looks upon love as a symbol of humanistic life and approves it as something positive, as Plato has Socrates describe it in Symposium and Phaedrus.
    Socrates considers the passion for romantic love, including Eros, the sexual love, as the source energy for one’s pursuit of goodness, beauty and truth. “Love of thinking” also respects the naturalness of humans, and sincerity and seriousness are not something stifling but are equally valuable as the pursuit of love. Furthermore, Lao Zhu’s principles are ultimately feminine principles, which deem the bondage between a woman and a man through sexual love as an expression of human sincerity. Lao Zhu says that the energy from such bondage spreads to one’s homeland and the nation, and eventually turns into compassion (philanthropy, virtue).

    I will next concisely describe “love of thinking” and publicness.

    The existential thought of “love of thinking” is an idea presented as “subjective knowledge” which supports public philosophy (Correspondence between Kim Tae-chang and Takeda). “Love of thinking” possesses publicness that is open to society. It decisively says No to the kind of politics and nationalism that are imposed by specific social classes. It ultimately is all about the autonomy of the citizens for the citizens by the citizens, that is, democracy. It strongly seeks peace and opposes any use of weaponry and warfare unless there is a direct attack to it.

    It rejects the hierarchized view of humans based on the differences that are attached to people at birth, and fully embraces the ethics of sharing. These values are shared in Buddha’s thoughts. It does not value the amount of “possession” of knowledge, background, or wealth. It sees values in the goodness and attractiveness that lie in “the existence of the person oneself.” It rejects comparison and competition with others and holds thorough understanding of others as the basic principle. It embodies the kind of thinking that enables everybody to be able to display her or his own brilliance and charm. In order to realize such manner of thinking and attitude, it seeks the liberal economic system based on the laws and structure that do not create disparity.

    I by no means deny the thoughts and life style of religious persons, but I believe that the only thing we can show our children is existential thoughts. Teaching children to believe in monotheism, or to obey the kind of moral that tells them to serve who is above them in rank, is unquestionably a “forbidden move.” My 40 years of educational practice is based on the existential thoughts described above. Such thoughts are one and the same as abundant love that is expressed with the whole body and mind.

    Photos counter-clockwise:
    1979- Gathering to view celestial bodies via the telescope                 
    2008 Debate at the Hose of Senate (55 years old)
    2014 Tenth anniversary celebration of the completion of New Shirakaba Education Hall
    2015 The 40th Shikinejima Island Camp Diving (63 years old)

    In Chapter 2 of Φιλοσοφία(Philosophia,”love of thinking”) I described the “healthy approach to life,” which is based neither on monotheism nor on secularism.

    In Chapter 2 of Φιλοσοφία (philosophia,”love of thinking”) I explained the basics of the life and thought of humans. I pointed out that the conventional philosophy of Western Europe and social thoughts are under the influence of Christian Faith, that we must examine the way we have studied such thoughts and what kind of life one leads under such thoughts. I also wrote that we must find a new approach to understanding such thoughts.

    The tool for understanding such thoughts is Φιλοσοφία(philosophia,”love of thinking”). It is not religion. It is a broadly defined philosophy. Without it we are not able to examine any domain (be it a religion or some kind of –ism) that is related to thoughts without hindrance and with confidence.

    In post-Meiji Japan in particular we directly imported scholarly studies of Europe and America. Such studies were strongly influenced by Christian Faith. As a consequence Japanese scholars are prone to be sympathetic toward the Christian way of understanding without even realizing. This results in heavily biased view of humans and society. To rectify the bias the foundation of human life must be clearly and precisely explained without the notion of monotheism.

    Again, Φιλοσοφία(philosophia,”love of thinking”) is broadly based philosophy, and serves as the basis for such scrutiny. It is of utmost importance that we make sure the transcendental “truth” outside of us does not come into the picture, and that people must be convinced with clear awareness that there is no other way to live but adopt the practice of feeling and thinking with one’s own mind and body as the coordinate axis. Any essential progress is impossible without the “internally motivated living” based on this way of living from day to day. It is not possible to take a critical look and scrutinize conventional thoughts without it.

    This idea of Φιλοσοφία(philosophia,”love of thinking”) is not a system of logic. Nor is it of religious nature. It is about one’s attitude that makes it possible to bring about good results in various realms through living well from day to day. It really works deep inside without the person even realizing. “Love of thinking” is a principle that enables free and resilient living without strong religion (such as Christian Faith or the worship of Japanese emperor) or strong ideology (such as Marxism).

    “Love of thinking” shares the fundamental principles with the existential thinking of Socrates (Athens) and Buddha (Nepal/India) in the 5th century B.C., followed by Lao Zhu (China), and also Shinran in Medieval Japan, and Sartre (France) in the 20th century. It is a thought that brings the blooming of humanness in us.

    Takeda Yasuhiro, October, 2018. (66 years old)
    At the athletic meeting with his grandchildren, Nana & Ren.
    The girl on my back – I don’t know who she is. (Laugh).



    About Philosophy and Love of Thinking – The Translator’s Perspective
    Kyoko Saegusa

    Φιλοσοφία(philosophia) is usually translated as philosophy, with an annotation “love of wisdom” in English.  It looks straightforward, and most English readers do not have to think further.  The word philosophy has several definitions in contemporary English dictionaries, from “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence” to “a guiding principle for behavior”. (The New American Oxford Dictionary)

    The English word philosophy was introduced into Japan in the mid 19th century and the back translation of the Japanese word 哲学(tetsu-gaku) means something like “the study of thoughts, wisdom, reason.”  It does not suggest in any way that the etymology is “love of wisdom.”

    In the English translation of this thesis, the author and translator have decided to adopt the somewhat awkward English rendition “love of thinking” for Φιλοσοφία (philosophia). This is to make it clear that the author is not talking about philosophy in the sense of the academic discipline but in the original sense of loving to figure out life, wisdom and truth through thinking and knowing.


            「キリスト教・イスラム教などの一神教」 と 「恋知」































    2014年 白樺教育館・新館落成10周年

     恋知 第2章では、一神教ではなく、世俗主義でもない「健康な生き方」を提示しました。










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    193.Three Schools Of Thought That Have Impacted Humans Up To The Present
    Three Schools Of Thought: Confucianism, Existential Thoughts Of Socrates, Buddha And Lao-Zhu, And The Monotheism Such As Christianity And Islam) Vs. Φιλοσοφία (Philosophia,”Love of Thinking”)