Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds The Analects contain the teachings of Confucius, but as time passed, they were appreciated more for the insight they provided on politics, the economy, and literature than as a philosophical text, eventually coming to be seen as a sort of manual for virtuous conduct. We noted earlier that the warlords of the Warring States period deeply cherished the Analects. It may be that since the Analects were written at a time of social instability, their influence was especially felt at times of social unrest. The text I have here is a late-Muromachi manuscript of the Analects . It was originally a book, but it was rebound as a scroll to make it easier to carry.
Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds We can imagine some hardened medieval warrior taking it with him everywhere he went. And then, after many generations, the book eventually came to be owned by Katsu Kaishū (), a statesman and one of the architects of modern Japan in the Meiji period (#) Kaishū’s other name was Yasuyoshi, as the stamp at the beginning of this book, “Katsu Yasuyoshi”, shows. As a government official, he is famous for conducting negotiations between governmental forces and foreign powers and for engineering the peaceful surrender of Edo castle by holding a meeting with the famous Saigo Takamori (). The meeting was held at the Satsuma estate in Tamachi, right next to Keio University here.
Skip to 2 minutes and 12 seconds Kaishū traveled to the United States on the Kanrin-maru as part of Japan’s first diplomatic mission in centuries. As a senior official of the Navy, he was among a handful of men who shaped the destiny of modern Japan in both domestic affairs and international diplomacy. Keio’s founder, Fukuzawa Yukichi (*), was his fellow traveller on the Kanrin-maru. Knowledgeable about foreign countries, well-read in the classics, and blessed with a brave spirit and inexhaustible energy, one may suppose that Kaishū succeeded in politics through sheer force and craftiness. As his motto, “The key to achievement is one word–sincerity,” shows, however, his political thought and attitude to life were deeply influenced by Confucius’ ideas.
Skip to 3 minutes and 9 seconds There is a saying in the Analects that goes: “The way of the Master is loyalty and devotion to others, nothing else.” We can assume that by “sincerity” Kaishū meant honest commitment to others. Like Confucius, he travelled the world and taught how to govern a country well. And from the Analects, he learned how one ought to conduct oneself in times of social upheaval.
Skip to 3 minutes and 37 seconds He wrote: “To govern, learning and knowledge come second; sincerity and devotion to office are the most important thing.”
Skip to 3 minutes and 50 seconds The Analects contain passages like the following: “The Master said, “When a prince’s personal conduct is correct, his government is effective without the issuing of orders. If his personal conduct is not correct, he may issue orders, but they will not be followed.” It is easy to see how indebted to Confucian ideas Kaishū’s politics was. Another of Kaishū’s ideals was ”Honest poverty and nobility of character”, which is also close to the Confucian attitude to material wealth.
Skip to 4 minutes and 36 seconds It is said in the Analects: “The Master said, “Extravagance leads to insubordination, and parsimony to meanness. It is better to be mean than to be insubordinate.” Thus, through such figures as Kaishū, the influence of the Analects extended to the sphere of politics and the economy, in Japan and in the rest of East Asia.
Keywords (terms, period names, figure’s names) in the video
- Edo castle
- Fukuzawa Yukichi (1834-1901)
- Saigō Takamori (1828-1877)
- Meiji period, Japan
- Muromachi period, Japan
- Warring States, Japan