Atsushi Shibasaki

Tomonaga Sanjūrō’s Epistemology of International Relations: The “Self-State-International Relations” Proto-Paradigm in Modern Japan.

Atsushi Shibasaki, Komazawa University, Tokyo

Translated by Gaynor Sekimori, SOAS, University of London

Originally published in Kokusai seiji (International Relations) 156, Kokusai seiji kenkyū no sentan (The Frontier of International Relations) 6, March 2009.


The purpose of this article is to explore the historical significance of the life and thought of Tomonaga Sanjūrō (1871-1951), a scholar of the history of western philosophy active from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth.[1]

There are two broad reasons for studying Tomonaga. First, we need to reassess his place, not only in International Relations (IR), but also in modern Japanese intellectual history and the history of philosophy, given the fact that he has not hitherto been widely studied or evaluated. The second reason concerns his significance within the intellectual history of International Cultural Relations (ICR) and IR. In particular, this article examines Tomonaga’s position in the exegitical genealogy of the discourse on Immanuel Kant’s theory of peace, as expressed in his Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (Zum ewigen Frieden. Ein philosophischer Entwurf; 1795), and TOminaga's role in the formation of an epistemological base for understanding modern IR in Japan. An epistemological mechanism is the basis for asking and answering the question “What is International Relations?”, which emerges from Kant’s work. Such an epistemology is concerned with how we understand IR as one phase in the construction of that world in relation to all the other phases.

Such an inquiry falls within the field of ICR (Jap. kokusai bunkaron), not just the intellectual history of IR, since it deals with “the (epistemology of) IR as a culture”, asking how we should think about and understand as a “culture” the way the world we call “International Relations” is constructed, in that culture consists of people devising ways and means to live their lives, and dealing with questions of vital importance to them.[2]

My specialist field is primarily ICR and the intellectual history of IR. In pursuing the second reason for making the present study, alluded to above, I have selected Tomonaga as my subject because, under the influence of neo-Kantianism, he committed himself to forming Japan’s modern identity from a perception of the world based on the study of the history of philosophy. However, since virtually no study of Tomonaga himself exists, it is first necessary to clarify his image within modern Japanese intellectual and philosophical history by using incontestable factual evidence. I will follow a basically chronological path, linking the relevant details from Tomonaga’s life with the discourse on the epistemology of IR.

The article is divided into three sections. Section 1 covers what is generally known about Tomonaga’s life and work, and makes a particular study of a period that has been neglected in existing scholarship – his thought and activities when his scholarship was in a formative state, from the 1890s to the time immediately after his return from study in Germany in 1913. This examination adds a further layer to our knowledge of who Tomonaga really was.

Section 2 focuses on Tomonaga’s activities in the Taishō era (1912-1926). In particular I examine two of his major works from that time, Kanto no heiwaron (Kant’s Discourse on Peace), published in 1922 and Kinsei ni okeru “ga” no jikakushi (A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times) of 1916, considering them in relation to each other, in terms of their content, their significance within Tomonaga’s thought, and their place in the scholarship in Japan concerning Kantian peace.

Finally, Section 3 gives a summary of Tomonaga’s work in the post-Kant’s Discourse on Peace period and of the relationship between his work and that of his successors, centering on the exegetictal genealogy of Kant’s theory of peace. Here I present my hypothesis about Tomonaga’s historical significance,  that he was a formative figure in modern Japanese philosophy, a “contextualizer” for the understanding of western philosophy, and the formulator of a proto-paradigm for the epistemology of IR in modern Japan.

Tomonaga Sanjūrō

Basic frame of reference

Tomonaga Sanjūrō is generally known as a professor of the Kyoto Imperial University active during the Taishō era, and as a neo-Kantian historian of philosophy who had studied under the German philosopher Wilhem Windelband (1848-1915).[3] Unlike his colleague Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945), his scholarly efforts centred on the exposition of the history of western philosophy, and even though he exerted a considerable influence on his contemporaries, and for some time later, as an interpreter and introducer, the originality of his words and ideas has been almost completely undervalued.

The same observation can be applied to the image of Tomonaga as an author. His scholarship has not been highly evaluated, despite his two main writings mentioned above, A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times and Kant’s Discourse on Peace. The former, though a basic work, was the first real definitive history of western philosophy published in Japan, while the latter was the first Japanese work to provide a systematic interpretation of Kant’s theory of peace from a philosophical stance. At the time, both books were widely read, even if only among a select handful of the elite, and they had a huge influence on people’s understanding both of the history of philosophy and of Kant. However they never received the critical acclaim of works such as Nishida’s Zen no kenkyū (An Enquiry into the Good) or Sansuijin keirin mondō (A Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government, 1887) by Nakae Chōmin (1847-1901), and there has never been any real attempt to try and extract any more historical meaning from them than might be expected from an outline of the subject.

This article does not intend to stress the academic significance of Tomonaga simply by meticulously investigating him as a lacuna in research history. Rather it asks whether the reason that his discoveries have not until now been taken up for discussion has been due to the fact that though they were obviously important, they also appeared to be overly self-evident, both from a later perspective and also from that of people at the time. In fact, his discoveries are connected directly with basic ideas about the nature of the modern world: how should we understand the world as a whole both now and in the future, and indeed, what is this world? To appreciate this point, we must first deconstruct the received image of Tomonaga to reveal the true nature of his thought and activities.

Tomonaga Sanjūrō was born in 1871 in what is now Nagasaki prefecture, the third son of a retainer of the former Ōmura domain, and he died on September 18, 1951 at the age of eighty.[4] He attended a private academy of Confucian learning (kangakujuku) from 1882; then, in 1887, after completing his second year at the Ōmura Middle School, he entered the Kyōritsu Middle School in Tokyo. In 1889 he entered the First Higher and Middle School, where he was influenced by Uchimura Kanzō (1861-1930),[5] then a teacher there, to aspire towards the study of philosophy. Though his father died that year (his mother had died when he was twelve), his elder brother, who was already working, provided him with the money to continue his schooling. He was greatly influenced by a book he read at that time, Heroes and Hero Worship by Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881).

In 1895 he entered the Tokyo Imperial University where he specialised in philosophy and the history of philosophy. Among his teachers were Raphael von Koeber (1848-1923), Inoue Tetsujirō (1855-1944), Motora Yūjirō (1858-1912), and Nakajima Rikizō (1858-1918).[6] He graduated in July 1898, and the following September began work, at the age of 27, as a professor at the Shinshū University[7] in Kyoto, where he taught, not only philosophy and the history of philosophy, but also ethics and psychology. He moved to Tokyo in 1901 when the university relocated to the Sugamo district of the capital, and married the poet Bifuku Hideko the following year. He had four children, of whom the second child and the eldest son was (the future Nobel prize-winner) Shin’ichirō (1906-1979).[8]

In 1902, he published Tetsugaku kōyō (An Outline of Philosophy), one of the first systematic textbooks on philosophy to appear in Japan, and in 1905 Tetsugaku jiten (Dictionary of Philosophy), the first thorough dictionary of philosophical terminology in Japanese.[9] Neither work was truly original; rather they represented Tomonaga’s digest of German-language models of textbooks and dictionaries. They were well-received, and the Dictionary in particular continued to be widely used by students and scholars.[10]

Before the departure for Germany

During the period 1898-1909, Tomonaga worked both as a scholar and a cultural critic. He was no ivory-tower scholar divorced from the affairs of the world: this image in fact dates only from the last two decades of his life. By contrast, during the first decade of the twentieth century,[11] he was taking a hard look at what was happening in Japan while continuing his main academic work concentrating on the history of philosophy.[12] Applying his knowledge of the history of western philosophy, he developed his arguments about how Japan and the Japanese should behave as a civilised nation, mainly in the journal Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū.[13]

This discussion climaxed in the period after the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), as Tomonaga considered what Japan’s postwar philosophical position should be, employing Greek philosophy, as well as the Don Quixote and Hamlet thesis developed by Ivan Turgenev,[14] and other devices. At this time too he produced numerous articles that looked at the theory of civilisation as a type of international comparative philosophy, concerned about what things Japan should adopt or reject from foreign civilizations (Jap. jinbun), starting with their philosophies.[15]

For example, in an essay published in October 1906 called “Gaisenmon wa ichijitekitaru beshi” (The triumphal arch should be temporary),[16] he opposed plans to build a permanent triumphal arch on the site of the former Babasaki gate in Tokyo to celebrate the Japanese victory in the war with Russia,[17] criticizing the very fact of building a triumphal arch, and recommending that if it were built, it should only be temporary. Tomonaga considered that such memorials were “relics of barbarism”, no different to the way barbarians walked around with the heads of their enemies draped around their necks. Japan should be proud of not having such a tradition and there was no need “to transplant uncivilized customs”. He then asserted that we have only to put ourselves in the place of the Russians to understand that behaviour which must give rise to feelings of resentment and retaliation is not desirable either from the standpoint of humanity or the national interest. Thus he would be happy if all the triumphal arches built in Japan after the Russo-Japanese War were simply temporary. He concluded: “Once the triumph is over, I would like to offer my services to dismantle the arches completely so that no traces remain. While we have won an historic victory that signifies the beginning of a new age for Japan, it should be a matter of pride to us that we do not continue to hold on to the image of triumphal celebration.”

In later years, Tomonaga regarded this opinion as one of the starting points of his interest in the discussion of peace. However, a second look suggests that its argument was not so much concerned with peace as with the question of what parts of Western culture and institutions Japan should incorporate and what parts it should reject. It was, in other words, a discussion about the need for self-awareness in the face of the impact of western acculturation. Such arguments by Tomonaga about the relationship between the Japanese people and philosophy generally had this purpose.

Tomonaga’s arguments ultimately contract along two lines. The first concerns the type of philosophy Japan and the Japanese should adopt. Tomonaga made a comparative study of contemporary currents of thought in Britain, France and Germany on the basis of an examination of individualism (Jap. koseishugi) and the philosophy of personality (jinkaku tetsugaku).[18] Reviewing the historical process by which these ideas flowed into Japan from the middle of the nineteenth century, he concluded that English and German ideas had been introduced harmoniously, on the basis of neo-Kantian idealism and Hegelian philosophy.

Let us examine this argument according to a representative article Tomonaga wrote prior to his departure for Germany, “Seiyō ni okeru botsuga shisō to shuga shisō to no shōchō to minzokuteki bunpu to o nobete waga kuni no shisō ni oyobu” (Rise and fall, and national distribution, of ideas of selflessness and the subjective self in the west, with reference to Japanese thought).[19] He surveyed the history of the introduction of western philosophy as follows. The first philosophies to be imported, in the early years after the formation of the Meiji government in 1868, were the “determinist and naturalistic metaphysics, utilitarian ethics, individualistic politics” and “naturalistic and individualistic ideas” of the English philosophers, John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). They contributed greatly to the Japanese enlightenment and the shattering of “old customs”. In addition, Rousseau’s political philosophy based on the individual was imported earlier than Hegelian nationalistic political philosophy, and this too became a “powerful weapon against evil practices”.

Next to be imported were the German absolute idealism and universalism of G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), Hermann Lotze (1817-1881) and others. These ideas appeared at a time when “old customs” had almost all been swept away and were appropriate for “reconstructing after destruction”. These ideas, especially Hegel’s, had an “eastern flavour” in that “politically and ethically they set a high value on ‘universalism’”, and, “in terms of religion, they had a tendency towards mysticism in their idealism and pantheism.” As a result, the Japanese “discovered through German thought a close affinity between eastern and western thought, as well as a theoretical justification in it for eastern ways of thinking. Reversing the order, mediated by European thought, they arrived at a discovery of the value and truth of their own ways of thinking, and their own national polity, systems and customs.”

Despite this, the individualism that had been introduced in the 1870s was not lost. Now, “English ethical theories of self-realization that succeeded absolute idealism and emphasized ideas of personality”, individual-based pragmatism, and a personal idealism that “rejected universalism and stressed both the freedom and dignity of the personality and realism” were being imported, Tomonaga commented.

When we think about the introduction of western philosophy to Japan, Tomonaga continued, in one sense its ideas were more like a specific medicine to treat a particular disease rather than a new flesh and blood body. Japan did not have an “national bias” towards western philosophy. The advantage of this fact was that the Japanese “could, more or less without preconceived ideas, appreciate western philosophy, criticize it, reject its shortcomings, and adopt its strong points. The same attitude also allowed them to harmonize eastern and western thought”. He pointed out, however, that at the same time “it had no stabilizing uniformity”. The Japanese could not live just according to the ways of thinking of the past, but unfortunately, because they had adopted ideas that had a real body for Europeans “out of context”, western philosophy could not go beyond being a “temporary breath of fresh air or a specific medicine”.

Tomonaga then asked, what is the burning issue for Japanese philosophy? In a word, it is either outright acceptance or rejection, or otherwise the harmonization, of personality-based theories and absolutism, singly or together. This was important, both in the sense of how to accept, reject or harmonize the two streams of thought transplanted from abroad, and in the sense of accepting, rejecting or harmonizing “the tendency towards eastern universalism or western individualism”. Tomonaga thought that at some time in the future, a philosophy of “absolutism incorporating an ample content of voluntarism and empiricism” would become influential.

Tomonaga made this statement because he considered that pantheistic, absolutist, mystical and selfless (Ger. Selbstlosigkeit) German thought had “the closest affinity of all western ways of thinking to eastern thought” and that “it was the old, yet new, truth belonging both to the east and the west”. He also thought, as we have seen already, that ideas about the subjective self were a necessity for a modern society.

Tomonaga concluded by wondering whether in Japan, “German thought would assimilate English thought and whether it would be possible to incorporate western-style individualism into eastern-style ‘universalism’”, on the basis of “absolutism in conformity with the theory of personality, and intellectualism in conformity with voluntarism”. He added the reservation however that absolutism would finally be the foundation, not individualism.

In this essay, Tomonaga discovered one solution to the question that he had been asking since his debut as a scholar, defining the philosophical issue that Japan needed to solve, based on a study of the history of philosophy: to adopt English and American theories of the personality while maintaining a substructure of German absolutism, based on a neo-Kantian-type understanding of the history of philosophy. Tomonaga’s views were carried on into his 1916 work History of the Awareness of ‘Self’, written after his return from Germany.

This understanding of the history of philosophy, and the conclusions he reached, clearly demonstrate that the model of what he was to work on following his period abroad was already in place before his departure. It also means that Tomonaga did not take a neo-Kantian approach from the very beginning of his formation as a scholar, but chose neo-Kantian idealism as the philosophy that he himself, as well as Japan and the Japanese, should adopt, as a result of his wide-ranging investigations into the currents of contemporary western thought and his selection from among them.

The second course taken by Tomonaga’s arguments concerned the premise upon which such a selection could be made. This premise was an understanding of the world in terms of international cultural relations, in the sense that he attempted to formulate the type of construction within which international relations (as subject) and culture correspond and exist. For Japan and the Japanese to be qualified to select what philosophies they want from the various countries of Europe and to establish their own philosophical position, they must exist in the world preserving their own civilisation, on a par with western countries, he said. For his essays on the triumphal arch (1906) and selflessness and the subjective self (1909) to hold good, he had to have constructed a stable world view. To demonstrate such a world, made up of cultural exchanges between members (of which Japan was one) on an equal footing, Tomonaga employed the concepts of assimilation (ruika) and adaptation (ōka), found also in the two articles mentioned, to describe the mechanism of cultural reception and transformation.[20]

This represented the fulfillment of the project that Tomonaga was concerned with before he went to Germany, “the philosophical formation of modern Japan”. In later years, he is reported to have recalled how, having in his youth witnessed the frenzy of the Rokumeikan period,[21] he “was led at last to aspire towards a philosophy that had the purpose of greatly uplifting Japanese civilisation and realising national excellence”.[22] Putting aside how authentic this report is, the priority for Tomonaga was clearly not pure research that stood aloof from society, but a concern for the philosophical position Japan and the Japanese should incorporate, summed up by neo-Kantian idealism, and the basis on which this might be achieved – a mechanism of international culture made up of a schema of Subject, State and Culture, based on the relationship of subjects of equal status.

Study abroad and return to Japan

Tomonaga spent the years 1909-1913 studying in Europe. It is commonly held that he was greatly influenced by Wilhelm Windelband,[23] under whom he studied, that when he returned to Japan he took out of publication all the works he had published until then (actually, the Dictionary of Philosophy and the Outline of Philosophy continued to be reprinted), and that after his return he no longer produced the kind of cultural criticism that he had before he left.

Regarding the first point, Tomonaga in fact only attended Windelband’s lectures for little more than six months, and hardly received any personal tuition from him at all. And when we consider he stayed for a comparatively long time in other places in Germany, such as Berlin, as well as in Britain, France and Italy, among others, it is obvious he could not have developed as close a relationship with Windelband as is commonly thought.[24] However, as the following comments show, what seems to have impressed Tomonaga the most seems to have been the way Windelbrand lived as a teacher and a scholar. “There were many scholars in Germany, but it was Windelband to whom [I] owed the most. Windelband was like an eminent priest with no theatricality about him at all.”[25] “Seeing Windelbrand in Germany, I felt keenly that someone with my strengths was not at all equal to the task of being a university professor.”[26] This led to the changes we will see in Tomonaga as described in points two and three.

Was there in fact a complete discontinuation between Tomonaga’s arguments before he went to Germany and after he returned to Japan, as the second point suggests? The answer is “no”. Rather, Tomonaga went on to explore, within the framework of pure academic study, the position of the idealist philosophy that he had partially decided upon before he went to Germany and about which his conviction further deepened while abroad. Based on his own modest demeanour, achieved through Windelband’s influence, he moved his efforts to enlighten people about this idealist philosophy in both his teaching and his writing.

A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times,[27] compiled to honour Windelband, who had died in 1915, and based on lectures[28] Tomonaga gave after his return to Japan, was brought to completion in the course of this transition. However, in terms of content and construction, most of the work had already been completed in the essay finished before he went to Germany, the above-mentioned essay “Selflessness and the subjective self”. What “out-of-publication” means is that Tomonaga’s attitude based on his convictions had changed. In only one place in A History of the Awareness of “Self” does his argument comparing the Renaissance to the Meiji Restoration in Japan remain.[29] This is the sole vestige of of the cultural criticism that had engaged his attention before he went to Germany, a discourse on modern Japan and the Japanese based on western philosophical history that regarded the modern western philosophical experience extending over several centuries being equivalent to the modern Japanese philosophical experience extending over several decades. This is one indication why A History seems to have been viewed in later times simply on the order of an outline.

After his return to Japan, Tomonaga was confronted with the fact that Germany had become an enemy country as a result of the outbreak of the Great War. In the past Germany had been held up in Japan as the home of  idealist philosophy (to which Tomonaga himself subscribed), yet now there were bitter attacks being made on German militarism, and criticism was being levelled that German philosophy itself was by nature militaristic and aggressive. Tomonaga attempted to answer this criticism in essays such as “Shisōjō no kokusan shōreiron” (Encouragement of domestic production in terms of ideology) and “Doitsu shisō to gunkokushugi” (German thought and militarism), in A History of the Awareness of “Self” and in “Seccho no hihyō ni taishite” (A response to critical reviews of my works), a reply to reviews of Doitsu shisō to sono haikei (German thought and its background), a collection of articles published in May 1916.[30]

The essay entitled “Encouragement of domestic production in terms of ideology”[31] was written as the first part of “German thought and militarism”. Here Tomonaga employed the concepts of assimilation (ruika) and adaptation (ōge) to set up his hypothesis that the constant adoption and critical study of thought from abroad results in the wholesome development of a people, and based on this, he criticised exclusionist and closed currents of thought, saying “a country closed to ideas commits intellectual suicide”. Tomonaga, in stressing that the evaluation of a system of thought must always be made carefully from a position of equality, based on “a truly sincere and speculative conscience” and “conscience in the broadest sense”, developed a general framework for cultural reception and exchange.

In the latter part of this essay, and in its companion, “German thought and militarism”,[32] Tomonaga studied the relationship between German thought and militarism by distinguishing three periods of German thought: (1) at the time of Kant, (2) post-Kant, especially Hegel and his successors, and (3) Bismarck and later. There were no militaristic elements in Kant, the fountainhead of German idealism; if anything, there was anti-militarism. The romanticism of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854) and Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) occupies a grey zone, having elements of both Kant and Hegel but also the seeds of militaristic currents of thought. By the time we get to Hegel, militaristic elements become apparent for the first time. However, Hegel’s militarism was not “aggressive”, but rather “a militarism by the state intended to protect its representative civilisation”. However, after Bismarck, the ideology of rapid development and pragmatism prevailed over idelaism, fostering a militarism far removed from idealism. The “civilised state” (jinbun kokka) changed into the “authoritarian state” (kenryoku kokka).

It was in this series of essays that Tomonaga for the first time referred to Kant’s “perpetual peace”.[33] This was the starting point for Kant’s Discourse on Peace. Thus it was not written on the back of post-war leaguism (renmeishugi), but in the context of defending German thought during the Great War against accusations it was militaristic.

That being said, Tomonaga was not an unconditional pacifist. In “A Response to Critical Reviews of My Works”,[34] he made his own attitude to war clear. First, there was no basic contradiction between the idealist spirit and war. “War is what brings forth in the most fundamental, direct and vivid form honour, single-heartedness, loyalty, sacrifice and the courage to fight for justice.” “Simply as a Japanese, and as an individual, being born in the home of Bushidō,[35] and belonging to a family having the bushi (warrior) temperament, emotionally I have deep sympathy for this view.” And from the fundamental spirit of idealism too he could not but affirm war – by giving oneself to an absolute value that transcended actual gain and loss, one entered a spiritual and eternal life.

Second, whether war is good or bad depends on the values and motives for which it is waged. Thus it is a “Masamune blade”;[36] even if it serves to realize ideals and protect civilisation, it can also suppress ideals and destroy civilisation. Tomonaga did not deny all war, but he repudiated the improper use of war and war where idealism only meant moral justification.

The contemporary polemic that confronted Tomonaga on his return from Germany was directly connected with his own social and academic position, and so, unlike the contemporary issues with which he had been engaged before going abroad, must have posed immediate and serious questions regarding his academic and intellectual identity. When Tomonaga compiled a number of his articles into German Thought and Its Background in May 1916, he detached “Encouragement of domestic production” from “German thought and militarism”, even though the two were originally intended as two parts of the same article; they were placed apart and no reference was made to any connection between them.[37] As a result, with its character as a personal response to current issues brought about by the Great War removed, German Thought and Its Background was presented to the world as a purely academic study, a companion volume to A History of the Awareness of “Self”. In 1922, the two works were republished in a combined volume called Kinsei ni okeru “ga” no jikakushi: shin risōshugi to sono haikei (A History of the Awareness of “Self”: Neo-Idealism and Its Background, 5th edition), but this time the fifth chapter of German Thought (“Encouragement of domestic production”) was missing entirely. This represents Tomonaga’s final “reforging” of his work to remove comments on current events.

Kant’s Discourse on Peace

The work

After this time, except for a few short pieces on current topics, Tomonaga devoted himself to basic research, centring on Fichte, Carlyle, Descartes and Lotze. In 1919 he decided to retire from the Kyoto Imperial University and concentrate on educational activities as the principal of a normal school, citing poor health, his inability to match Windelband as a teacher and scholar, and the impossibility of accomplishing the description of two thousand years of philosophical history. However, as a result of the encouragement and persuasion of his colleagues, in particular Nishida Kitarō, a very close friend, who wrote, “I am sure there are better wives than my own and better friends than my own. But my wife is my wife, and my friends are my friends”,[38] he decided to remain at the university. Kant’s Discourse on Peace was the work that occupied him immediately after he had weathered this turning point in his life.

Like many other of Tomonaga’s works, Kant’s Discourse on Peace was a compilation that developed and integrated three lecture-based essays. The first, “Kanto no eienteki heiwaron no hanmen” (A profile of Kant’s theory of eternal peace, 1921)[39] discussed basic approaches to the discussion and was centred on the first part of Perpetual Peace, the “Preliminary Articles”, plus some of Kant’s other works, while the second, “Kanto no heiwaron ni tsuite” (Concerning Kant’s discourse on peace, 1922),[40] dealt with the “Definitive Articles” and the “First Supplement” of Perpetual Peace. Tomonaga amalgamated these two in “Kanto no heiwaron” (Kant’s discourse on peace, 1922),[41] adding some extra content. This third essay was published virtually unchanged as the single volume Kant’s Discourse on Peace.[42]

This study is commonly understood to have the following characteristics. First, it was not simply a commentary on Perpetual Peace but the first work in Japan that attempted a systematic reconstruction of Kant’s philosophical stance concerning peace within the corpus of his whole philosophy. Second, as we have already seen, Tomonaga’s argument initially arose out of his defence of German philosophy during the Great War and was by no means an attempt to jump on the bandwagon of post-war Wilsonism, internationalism and leaguism. Rather, its prime purpose was to ring a warning bell about the longing for post-war peace, pointing out that this desire seemed to be emotional and philanthropic.

In the preface, Tomonaga described his motive for writing the book as the desire to demonstrate the persistence of his own concern for peace, mentioning his essay on the triumphal arch that he wrote before the war, his essay on German thought and militarism that he wrote after his return from Europe, and “A Response to Critical Reviews of My Works”. (This motive was not however mentioned in the essay “Encouragement of domestic production”.) Nevertheless, as my research has shown, none of these essays in fact dealt primarily with peace, and if that is so, what is the significance within the internal development of Tomonaga’s thought of Kant’s Discourse on Peace, which to all appearances is an outline or introduction?

The Impossibility of a World State

Certain points in Tomonaga’s argument as it appears in Kant’s Discourse on Peace are worth noting. The first is that he draws a clear line between the supranationalism of Kant and the supraindividualism of Hegel. This marks the difference between the priority of the individual over the state in eighteenth century thought and the priority of the state over the individual in romanticism and later philosophy. It is certainly possible to draw a line between Kant and Hegel, but as Tomonaga pointed out, Hegelian-type moments are already traceable within Kant. He argued however that Kant did not systematize them as a philosophy. He made the same claim, as we have seen above, when he was trying, during the Great War, to deny that German philosophy was militaristic. It took on an even greater importance in Kant’s Discourse on Peace.

The second, and more important, point is Tomonaga’s discussion about Kant’s Second Definitive Article (The Right of Nations Shall be Based on a Federation of Free States), concerning the impossibility a world state. The generally accepted interpretation is that Kant’s “international state (civitas gentium; Jap. kokusai kokka), which would continue to grow until it embraced all the peoples (Jap. minzoku) of the earth”[43] means neither a world state nor a world government, but only a loose federation retaining its sovereignty, like the League of Nations. Most commentators give as their evidence for this view Kant’s “negative substitute” argument, that “if all is not to be lost, [the positive idea of a world republic] can at best find a negative substitute in the shape of an enduring and gradually expanding federation likely to prevent war. The latter may check the current of man’s inclination to defy the law and antagonise his fellows”.[44] In addition, they often quote from the teleological explanation in Kant’s First Supplement, that control becomes more difficult as the state grows larger, and that states are separated by the workings of “Nature” and the “belligerence” of people.

However, Tomonaga did not accept these opinions, for he was not satisfied with the argument of negative substitution, and he regarded the teleological interpretation to be of low ethical value. On the contrary, he insisted that theoretically, Kant  had to recognize the possibility of a world state. Certainly, the realization of an international state or a world republic in the form of a large number of states “joining together into one state while maintaining their autonomy[45] is clearly contradictory and impossible, seen from the perspective of the self determination of the state. However, “there is clearly no contradiction” if for the sake of convenience, we could term an international state (though here the term ‘international’ is already inappropriate) a merger into one state of several states which have completely given up their autonomy and overcome all obstacles, and apply the term world republic to the broadest extent of this process.”[46]

If therefore there is no basis for saying that world formation has to be confined to the condition of separation into states, then it is hard to support Kant’s argument. According to Tomonaga, Kant himself, in retaining the logic that, just as autonomous individuals gather together to form a state, autonomous states are not limited to gathering together to form an international society, but can go on to form a world state, perceived that his own philosophical system, in giving priority to the state over the individual, lacked logical systematization.

Thus, even if we deem that there is some significance in the very fact itself that numerous states preserve their own autonomy while being mutually opposed, there is still no reason for an international state or a world republic in this sense to be impossible. The reason an international state is impossible in the former sense lies in the contradiction between “international” and “state”, so, in order to make room for “international” as Kant constructed it, we can either dispose of “state” and make a “league” (renmei), thinking of a League of Nations, or else we can dispose of “international”, and think of an international state or a world republic in the latter sense, retaining the “state”. In order to make the latter option to be impossible, we must demonstrate that it is impossible to dispose of “international” and that there is a certain significance in the fact itself of numerous states preserving their own autonomy while being mutually opposed. The most straightforward way to prevent war between states is to remove all the conditions of hostility between them and by doing so bring about an international state or world republic in the latter sense. Even if this is difficult to achieve, we should not only hold it up as an ideal, but also as that which agrees with the spirit of Kant’s philosophy, concerned with the question of right (quid juris).[47]

As an interpretation based on negative substitution shows, states as autonomous bodies that come together and are united on the basis of subordination cannot be defined as “states”. Tomonaga thought though that if we do away with the given premise about a “state”, that it is an autonomous body that cannot be united with a body that holds a superior position to itself, then a world state is achievable. To borrow his words, an “international state” means is what we should be able to achieve if we dispose of  “state” and form a league or confederacy, and dispose of “international” and form a world state.

Despite this, Tomonaga did not stand on the side of a world state. As we have seen, he had already argued that though it was possible to differentiate between Kant and Hegel, Hegelian ideas about state supremacy were already in preparation within Kant. In Tomonaga’s view, while Kant recognised a world state in theory, he considered that its basis was the separation of the world with the autonomous state as the basic unit. As proof for this, Tomonaga somehow collected together evidence to support his contention that Kant recognised the “significance of the ‘national’” (kokuminteki mono no igi)[48] and that for him “there was some significance in the very fact of numerous states preserving their own autonomy while being mutually opposed”.  In this way, Tomonaga tried to “enclose” (fūjikome) the possibility of a world state.

Nevertheless, the grounds for Tomonaga’s argument were very weak. Though his academic conscience did not let him use a teleological argument, a study that turns to its own advantage a metaphor comparing academic separation to national separation and makes broad interpretations of accounts of national uniqueness that are no more than irrelevant detail cannot, even considered in the most favourable light, be very convincing. All the same, Tomonaga’s “enclosure”, concerning the impossibility of a world state based on Kant, has survived solidly down to the present, its theoretical weakness unresolved, either during Tomonaga’s time or by succeeding generations. This would suggest that any legitimacy of the state of the world premised on a modernistic state system can ultimately only be demonstrated tautologically.

The Significance of Kant’s Discourse on Peace

When we trace the hermeneutical lineage in modern Japan regarding Kant’s ideas of peace, the leading figures before Tomonaga were Nishi Amane (1829-1897), Nakae Chōmin (1847-1901) and Katō Hiroyuki (1836-1916).[49] Their interpretations, however, basically reinforced their own understanding of reality and their opinions based on it, and so were somewhat arbitrary. In the same period, the political scientist Imanaka Tsugimaro (1893-1980), Yoneda Shōtarō (1873-1945), a professor of sociology at Kyoto Imperial University, and Kuwaki Gen’yoku (1874-1946), a Kantian philosopher who taught at the imperial universities in Kyoto and Tokyo, among others, also published studies of Kant, but even though they differed from Tomonaga’s interpretation in parts, they did not achieve his degree of systematization and meticulousness.[50] In addition, some, like Kanokogi Kazunobu (1884-1949), an ultranationalist philosopher from the Kyushu Imperial University, asserted that, far from “eternal peace”,  the actual state of the world was “eternal war”, while others, like Kameya Seikei (1856-1930), a Buddhist scholar and educator, published works comparing Kant favourably with Confucius and Christ.[51]

For Tomonaga, A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times and Kant’s Discourse on Peace were comprehensive expressions of his own philosophical and ideological stance through an account of the history of western philosophy and a systematic description of Kant respectively. In the former, he clarified the fundamental construction and the historical formation of the philosophical position that he himself held and that he believed Japan and the Japanese should also hold, eschewing the methodology he had employed prior to his study in Germany that had overt contemporary implications. This work was popular among both scholars and students as a basic study of the history of western philosophy and in compiling it, Tomonaga acted as a “contextualizer” in the philosophical formation of modern Japan.

Kant’s Discourse on Peace reflected Tomonaga’s long-held interest in securing, by means of a systematic outline of Kant’s arguments, a stable position for Japan and the Japanese as one entity within the differentiated international structure. It formulated how people possessing a modern awareness of Self exist in relationship to the state and the world, drawing on how the modern world is formed, based on an understanding of the history of idealism that is set out according to the historical interpretation found in A History of the Awareness of “Self”. In other words, autonomous individuals possessing Self will construct a state along the lines of a social contract, and autonomous states possessing sovereignty will construct an international society. However, the individual states do not become a world state.

Tomonaga Sanjūrō was a philosopher who studied and discussed philosophy as a way of viewing the world and human beings and who had the clear purpose of using it to construct for the nation of Japan a stable position in the modern world. His two works presented a structure of the world that comprised a continuum of the individual (Self), state (sovereignty) and international society (not an international state or a world state). He thus played an important historical role in laying the foundation for an epistemology of international relations in modern Japan, in a period just prior to the growth of academic specialization and the development of the theory of international relations within the specialized field of sociology.

The Epistemology of International Relations

“Patching up”: Tomonaga’s latter years

With the exception of a study made to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of Kant’s birth in 1924 following  a six-month visit to Germany, Tomonaga continued his study of the course of pre-Kantian philosophy, centring on Descartes[52] and Rousseau. In 1931 he retired from the Kyoto Imperial University as an emeritus professor, but continued teaching at Otani University and other places. By the end of the war he was suffering from ill-health, and concentrated his energies on revising and making additions to A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times and Kant’s Discourse on Peace. This work Tomonaga self-deprecatingly called “patching up”.

In the early post-war period, he published the work of his latter years in two volumes, Tetsugakushiteki shōhin (A short history of philosophy) and Renesansu oyobi sen-Kanto no tetsugaku (The Renaissance and pre-Kantian philosophy).[53] In addition, revised editions of A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times were published in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1950, and of Kant’s Discourse on Peace in 1947 and 1950. The  title of latter work was given a modern orthography but otherwise there was little change. However, the 1948 edition of A History of the Awareness of “Self” was substantially revised to make its connection with Kant’s Discourse on Peace clear and to strengthen the relationship between the two works.[54] He also incorporated his inquiries into the connection between Buddhism and mystical thought, a topic in which he had long been interested, and he devoted himself to Shin Pure Land Buddhism in his latter years.

We are enabled to know Tomonaga’s sentiments at this time through the slight differences in the essays he chose to include in the volumes and the new introductions he wrote. He remained committed to the possibility of the “philosophy of reason” and sustained the hope that Germany, again defeated in war, would come about on the basis of idealism. He also criticised views that saw German militarism and “German culture” as identical. It is clear that there was no deviation at all in his arguments from his prewar views.

“Self-State-International Relations”

The greatest significance of Tomonaga Sanjūrō in terms of modern Japanese intellectual and philosophical history concerns his contributions to the philosophical formation of modern Japan, and his role as a “contextualizer” for an understanding of western philosophy. His “originality” is to be found in the fact that he was both an interpreter and an introducer during the period of “western impact”. In other words, he was a “contextualizer” in the sense he established a context for comprehending the history of philosophy, which in turn became the basis for understanding the world, in order to bring, at the very least,  a stability to the constantly vague and wavering national consciousness of modern Japan. He fixed his ideas among the intelligentsia through his educative activities and discussion. His careful inquiry and study to “stabilise” modern concepts of subjectivity, the world and identity were in marked contrast to the more “unstable” (Jap. yuragi) study of topics like Asianism and “modern conquest” theory.

The historical significance of Tomonaga does not stop here. In his pursuit to form a modern Japanese philosophy, Tomonaga not only focused on philosophical concepts and the history of philosophy: his objective in studying Western philosophy had a “practical purpose”,[55]  to formulate an epistemological mechanism or a premise for a world view to enable Japan and the Japanese to have a stable understanding of themselves in the modern world. He did not formulate a self, a state or international relations detached from all others, but set up the thesis that self, state and international relations were tightly connected in an organic and cross-referential structure.

In brief, this was a three-tiered structure: the individual, rooted in an independent and autonomous Self, the nation-state (society), made up of such individuals, and international relations (society), constituted of these independent and autonomous nation-states and premised on non-dissolution into a world state.  We can provisionally call this “Self-State-International Relations”. It is a cross-referential mechanism that specifies the modern world view and acts as a framework for asking the question, “What is international relations” in modern times. The modern epistemology of international relations has, whichever way we look at it, undeniably assumed a kind of world based on this mechanism, regardless of whether we accept it or criticise it.

Of course, this “Self-State-International Relations” is an invented idea. Furthermore, if we think of it in terms of Kant’s individual-centredness, it  has a logical weakness, as Tomonaga perceived. However, Tomonaga managed to contain this weakness and concocted a way of explaining the world, half by accident and half by intent, by directly confronting the reality of his time. Those who followed him neither tried to reformulate this schema completely, nor attempted to examine the difficult points that Tomonaga had marked out, that might be summarised as the issue of a world state.  Rather, they took this framework as a given and tried to reinforce it further.

Tomonaga among Kant’s interpreters

This is clear when we look at Tomonaga’s successors as interpreters of Kant. A direct successor of Tomonaga’s discourse on international relations and the world based on Kant was “Kanto ni okeru kokusai seiji no rinen” (The idea of international politics in Kant) by Nanbara Shigeru (1889-1974), a professor of political science in the Law Faculty at the Tokyo Imperial University, and its revised version, “Kanto ni okeru sekai chitsujo no rinen” (The idea of a world system in Kant).[56] Nanbara, following in Tomonaga’s theoretical footsteps, as they appeared in the idea of the autonomy of the Self in Kant’s Discourse on Peace, also reached the same conclusion, that “a world state was impossible”. Though he did not go beyond the “negative substitute” theory, he used it to demonstrate the validity of a world federal state, going one step beyond Kant’s position and highlighting notions of nationalism (Jap. minzoki kokkaron) based on concepts held by Fichte and his successors. Nanbara discussed the construction of modern international relations, using Tomonaga’s idea of the “enclosure” (fūjikome) of the theoretical possibility of a world state.

The postwar arguments of Kōsaka Masaaki (1900-1969), a student of Tomonaga’s,[57] were however organised without any reference to Tomonaga’s “enclosure”. In accordance with a “society of world citizens”, Kōsaka regarded a world republic as a positive ideal and as a principle of control, and the League of Nations as a negative substitute, a principle of organization, and a “schematised idea” (Jap. zushikika sareta rinen). There is  no connection here with Tomonaga’s arguments.

Hardly anyone who followed Nanbara and Kōsaka in post war Kantian scholarship can be regarded as having erased Tomonaga’s “stamp” and opened up the choices that he had offered – to dispose of “international” or dispose of the “state”. Rather, they accepted this premise made at a time before the separation of philosophy and the social sciences, and made no effort to go further into it,  regarding Tomonaga’s interpretation of Kant based on “enclosure” as unshakeable. Theirs was an attitude of “standard operating procedure”,[58] in that they were content not even to consider whether a “world state” was possible or not.

From the 1970s in particular there appeared a few scholars who advocated a different position: that it was self-evident to think about the world only in terms  of international relations based on separate states. Banba Nobuya (1937-1989), a political scientist in the field of international relations, and Mogami Toshiki (b. 1950), a legal scholar specialising in international law, expressed opinions about transnational movements, the activities of non-state actors, a global society based on the human interest (global humanism), and the possibility of a global culture.[59] It is, however, difficult to say that their studies have gone beyond the existing epistemology of modern international relations. We can cite two reasons for this. First, changing reality does not seem to have caught up with them, and second, and more important, most of them are concerned solely with “international relations” or with trying to reform the level of the entire globe at one fell swoop. If they had given consideration to the epistemological mechanism of “Self-State-International Relations” they would, I think, realise the necessity, both now and in the future, of unravelling the various standards that make up the world and the mutual connections within “international relations”.

Something similar can be found in the understanding of Kant’s discourse on peace in the English-speaking world. According to Eric S. Easley, in his survey of the history of the reception of Perpetual Peace in the English-speaking world from the time of its publication in the late eighteenth century down to the present time, there are two patterns of interpretation.[60] Pattern 1 is peace proposals above the state level, interpretations from the mid nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century, while Pattern 2 is peace proposals at the state level, interpretations from the 1950s. Pattern 1 has two phases: the first has as its object the formation of an international state by reining in state sovereignty, and the second stops at a federation or commonwealth, where state sovereignty is curbed. Pattern 2 also has two phases: in the first there is a strengthening of the state’s autonomy and indispensible importance, and the second is represented by democratic (liberal) peace.

Easley sees the transition between Patterns 1 and 2 to be the important moment. If however we adopt a view that asks how we should understand and explain this world as it has come about – the viewpoint of the study of the epistemology of international relations – what is decisive is the moment when we gave up on the world state and saw it as an impossibility. As far as I understand by looking at Easley’s work and the sources he has quoted, it is not certain how the moment when this impossibility was recognised came about in the English-speaking world. However, looking back at the discussion so far, the greatest significance of the study of Kant’s IR is connected, not only with “Kant’s image” or “democratic peace”, but particularly with the existence of a concentrated epistemological reflection regarding how the modern world has been constructed and the mechanism by which it was done.


This purpose of this article has been first to examine the historical significance of Tomonaga Sanjūrō in modern Japanese intellectual and philosophical history and to show that he was not a purveyor of second-hand information but a contextualizer for the understanding of modern western philosophy, who shouldered a national task: the philosophical formation of modern Japan. This is embodied in A History of the Awareness of “Self”

We have seen too that we can detect Tomonaga’s originality in the breadth of his undeviating academic conscience, in the clear reflection of his awareness of contemporary issues in work that seen from a later time may seem to be simply an introduction and commentary, and in the way it was constructed, paradoxically because it was close to being an outline and an exposition. His work was not a specialised “translation” with the interpolation of his own theories, like the Chinese scholar Yan Fu’s,[61] but on the other hand, like Yan Fu, he carried out his work with a strong normative awareness – how should one’s country and people be moulded at a time of modern growth confronted by the western powers?

Besides the philosophical formation of modern Japan, Tomonaga also had to argue for a type of world in which Japan and the Japanese could exist stably in the modern world, exchange “civilisations” and continue to live in harmony with others. Tomonaga draw the basic structure of the image of this world in Kant’s Discourse on Peace, while making connections with A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times. The series of articles he wrote before he went to Germany, beginning with the essay on the triumphal arch, and his awareness of contemporary issues as it appeared in his essays on his return, defending German philosophy during the Great War, intricately influenced the background to this discussion. Kant’s Discourse on Peace, as an extension of this research history, was to all appearances a commentary on the theory of peace, but it also  developed as an argument that did not stop here. Tomonaga’s own change of attitude after he returned from Germany was also a factor in this work’s complicated background and the opaqueness of its intent.

Finally this article has termed the configuration of the world that Tomonaga presented, drawing on Kant, “Self-State-International Relations”. There are drawbacks in limiting the modern epistemology of international relations to such a reliance on Kant, but I have proposed that it is supported by a very firm and powerful framework for underpinning an understanding of the human world  and so has become stable. This conceptual construction is itself in further need of refinement, but the state of IR studies itself is closely related to it and so it will be of ongoing importance to elucidate the historically distinctive scholarly features of IR studies (incorporating international political science and the discourse on international relations) on the basis of this hypothesis.

Let me give one example. In his first work,  Man, the State, and War, Kenneth Waltz gave a reverse image of the epistemological system of  “Self-State-International Relations” in his three “images” of international relations.[62] While Waltz’s argument had the limited objective of seeking the causes of war between states, it had also to consider the interrelation of the images. However, while the discussion at the analytical level, limiting the scope of the study to a basic explication of each of the images, broadened the theoretical range to the phenomena of international relations in general, it ended up in a reduced, and perhaps trivialised, treatment of the interrelation of images. Further, Waltz himself moved on to create the theory of structural realism (neorealism),[63] focusing his attention only on the level of the international system.

However, the possibility of a theoretical “development” by limiting the scope of the study to a basic explication of each of the separate images and by expanding the range of generalization is effective, I think, because the organic relationship that is Self-State-International Relations that permits that separation and limitation is already assumed and shared. Though beyond the scope of this article, but I believe on further reflection that a study of Tomonaga can be connected with the IR epistemology and the history of the formation of a world view that Waltz and western scholars of international politics relied upon.

This approach to thinking about how the world has come about is of a definite term; it will change with changing reality. That being so, we will have to strive once more to discover a new epistemological mechanism in place of “Self-State-International Relations” to relate to the new reality. I predict that by doing so, we will be able to stimulate a realignment in the state of  knowledge that is IR, and by extension the state of knowledge of the whole of the social sciences and the humanities. This will be significant as an intellectual activity that contributes to   our thinking about and discussing the works from the standpoint of IR.

[1] This article brings together the arguments made in my “Nihon ni okeru kindai kokusai kankei ninshiki no genteki keisei, Tomonaga Sanjūrō to ‘Jiga, Kokka, Kokusai kankei’” (The proto-paradigm for an epistemology of modern International  Relations in Japan: Tomonaga Sanjūrō and “Self-State-International Relations”), Ph.D. dissertation, University of Tokyo, February 2007, and is based on a report given at the conference of the Japanese Political Science Association (Nihon Seiji Gakkai) on October 7, 2007. Related articles include “’Jiga, kokka, kokusai kankei’ bunka toshite no kokusai kankei ninshiki kenkyū josetsu (“Self-State-International Relations”: prolegomena for the study of the epistemology of  International Relations as culture), Kokusai shakai kagaku 52, March 2003; “Tomonaga Sanjūrō no Kanto-ron, Kindai Nihon no tetsugakuteki keisei to kokusai kankei ninshiki keisei no genteki kōsaku” (Tomonaga Sanjūrō’s discourse on Kant and the making of the epistemological basis of modern International Relations), Kokusai shakai kagaku 53, March 2004; and “Kokusai kankei ninshiki to Tomonaga Sanjūrō” (Tomonaga Sanjūrō and the epistemology of International Relations), Sōbun 497, May 2007.

[2] Concerning this point, see “Kokusai bunkaron ni okeru futatsu no bunka” (Two cultures in international cultural relations), Kokusai seiji 129, February 2002.

[3] For example, “Tomonaga Sanjūrō”. Tetsugaku jiten (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1971), p. 1029.

[4] For general descriptions of Tomonaga and his literary works, see “Tomonaga Sanjūrō” in Kindai Nihon tetsugaku shisōka jiten, eds Nakamura Hajime and Takeda Kiyoko (Tokyo: Tōkyō shoseki, 1982), pp. 392-394; “Tomonaga Sanjūrō” in Meiji bungaku zenshū 80, Meiji tetsugaku shisō shū (Tokyo: Chikuma shobō, 1974); “Tomonaga Sanjūrō” in Nihon shisōshi jiten, eds Koyasu Nobukuni et al (Tokyo: Perikansha, 2001),  p. 393; “commentary” and “chronology” by Mitsui Kiyoshi in Tomonaga Sanjūrō, Kinsei ni okeru “ga” no jikakushi, definitive edition (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1952); Tomonaga Sanjūrō sensei no omoide (Tomonaga Sanjūrō sensei no omoide hensankai, 1957). The biographical details in this article are all derived from the information in these sources.

[5] Translator’s note: Uchimura Kanzō, founder of the Christian Nonchurch Movement, taught briefly at the First Higher and Middle School, but was forced to resign within a year for refusing to bow before the Imperial Rescript on Education in January 1891 as was required (the so-called “disrespect incident”). The Daiichi Kōtō Chūgakkō (First Higher Middle School) was organized out of Daigaku Yobimon (University Preparatory School) in 1884; legislation of 1886 demarcated the higher school as an imperial university preparatory school. After World War II, the higher schools were all incorporated into the university system (the First Higher School, situated at Komaba, became part of Tokyo University). See Donald Roden, Schooldays in Imperial Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).

[6] Translator’s note: Raphael von Koeber was a German-Russian teacher of philosophy. He had taught at the universities of Berlin, Heidelberg and Munich before going to Japan in 1893. He taught at the Tokyo Imperial University until 1914; among his students were Natsume Sōseki and Nishida Kitarō. Inoue Tetsujirō was a conservative philosopher who had studied in Germany between 1884 and 1889. He contributed to the discourse on the Japanese national polity based on the family state around the figure of a divine emperor, writing a commentary at the invitation of the Ministry of Education on the Imperial Rescript on Education. He was extremely anti-Christian. Motora Yūjirō was a psychologist who had studied psychology in the United States, receiving a doctorate in the subject from Johns Hopkins University in 1888. He began lecturing on psychology at the Tokyo Imperial University in 1889 and was appointed professor the following year, when he also published the first psychology text book in Japanese, Shinrigaku (Psychology). Nakajima Rikizō, who had a doctorate from Yale, was a philosopher and ethicist, who adopted the theory of the British Kantian scholar Thomas Hill Green. The professor of ethics and philosophy at the Tokyo Imperial University, he wrote on Kant and Hegel and introduced Dewey’s Outlines of Critical Theory of Ethics to Japan.

[7] Translator’s note: Shinshū daigaku was established in Kyoto in 1896 out of the former Takakura gakuryō (training institute attached to Higashi Honganji) of the Shin Pure Land Sect. It moved to Sugamo in Tokyo in 1901, but returned to Kyoto in 1911 as Shinshū Ōtani daigaku. It became Ōtani daigaku in 1922.

[8] Translator’s note: Tomonaga was appointed an associate professor at the Kyoto Imperial University in 1907, whereupon the family moved back to Kyoto. He became a full professor in 1913 on his return from Germany. After his retirement in 1931 he became a professor at Ōtani University.

[9] Tetsugaku kōyō (Tokyo: Hōbunkan, 1902.11); Tetsugaku jiten (Tokyo: Hōbunkan, 1905.1).

[10] See the remarks of Miki Kiyoshi (1897-1945) and Amano Teiyū (1884-1980) in the Omoide (Recollections), cited in Note 4 above.

[11] His main works during this period are Tetsugaku to jinsei (Philosophy and Human Life), (Tokyo: Ryūbunkan, 1907) and Jinkaku no tetsugaku to chōjinkaku no tetsugaku (The Philosophy of Personality and the Philosophy of Super-Personality), (Tokyo: Kōdōkan, 1909.9)

[12] Articles published at this time include “Shizen kagaku no chishiki ni motozukeru yuishinron” (Idealism based on the knowledge of natural science), Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 12 (1903.4), 71-100, and “Tetsugakushi kōkyū no shishu to kenkyūhō to ni tsuite” (Purposes and methods in studying the history of philosophy), Tetsugaku zasshi 200 (1903.10), 21-30. These publications are found listed in Meiji tetsugaku shisō shū (Meiji bungaku zenshū 80), ed. Senuma Shigeki (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1974). They occupy an important place as some of the earliest discussions of methodology in the modern Japanese study of the history of philosophy.

[13] For the Teiyū rinrikai, see “Teiyū rinrikai” in Minkangaku jiten jikō-hen, eds Kano Masanao, Tsurumi Shunsuke and Nakayama Shigeru (Tokyo: Sanseidō, 1997), p. 435. See also Miyamoto Matahisa, “Sōritsuki no ‘Teiyū rinrikai’ no seikaku” (The character of the Teiyū Ethical Society at its inception”, Kanazawa daigaku kyōikubu kiyō 19 (1970.12). Translator’s note: The Teiyū Ethical Society grew out of an informal discussion group formed in 1897 (the hinoto tori year, i.e. teiyū) called the Teiyū konwakai by Ōnishi Hajime (1864-1900), a philosopher, critic and poet, Anesaki Masaharu (1873-1949), an intellectual and scholar who had studied philosophy at the Tokyo Imperial University, and others. The name was changed to Teiyū Rinrikai in 1900, when the society began publishing a journal (Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū).

[14] Translator’s note: “Hamlet and Don Quixote” was a speech delivered by Turgenev on January 10, 1860, at a public reading to benefit the Society for the Aid of Needy Writers and Scholars. The Essential Turgenev, ed. Elizabeth Cheresh Allen (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1994), pp. 547-564.

[15] “Kirō jinbun no tokusei o ronjite waga kuni jinbun no shōrai ni oyobu” (The characterisics of Greek civilisation and their connection with the future of Japanese civilisation), Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 38 (1905. 11), 1-34; “Kirō minzoku no tetsugakuteki soshitsu (The philosophical temperament of the Greek race), in his Tetsugaku to jinsei (op. cit), pp. 96-148; “Don Kihōte to Hamuretto (Gendai shichō ni oite)” (Don Quixote and Hamlet in contemporary thought), Parts 1 and 2, Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 46 (1906.7), pp. 53-73, 47 (1906.8), pp. 23-48.

[16] Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 49 (1906.10), pp. 93-94. 

[17] Translator’s note: On May 6, 1906 a triumphal arch was set up at Babasakimon, where the old gate and bridge had been removed and a new road constructed for the victory parade (there had been a serious accident here in 1904 when many people were crushed at the gate during a lantern-lit parade). For the Russo-Japanese War and triumphal arches, see Takashi Fujitani, Splendid monarchy: power and pageantry in modern Japan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).

[18] “Jinkaku tetsugaku zakkan” (Miscellaneous thoughts about the philosophy of personality), Tōa no hikari 4: 4 (April 1909), pp. 19-32. Other articles include “Koseishugi ni tsuite” (Individualism), Part 1 Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 75 (December 1908), pp. 45-80; Part 2 Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 76 (January 19090, pp. 46-64.

[19] Published in three parts in the Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū: 79 (April 1909), pp. 1-41; 81 (June 1909), pp. 37-58; 82 (July 1909), pp. 11-45. The section discussed comes from no. 82.

[20] Tomonaga, “Ruika to ōka”, in Jinkaku no tetsugaku to chōjinkaku no tetsugaku, op. cit., pp. 347-373.

[21] Translator’s note: In 1883 a western-style brick building was built in the Hibiya district of Tokyo where balls and other social events were held, attended both by Japanese and foreign dignitaries. The Rokumeikan became a symbol of the rapid westernization of Japanese culture, but its functions were abandoned in 1890 when there was a reaction to westernization after attempts to revise the Unequal Treaties failed.

[22] Shibutani Ai, “Onyōju no gotoki onshi” (My beloved teacher) in Omoide (op. cit. Note 4), p. 58.

[23] Translator’s note: Windelband, of Heidelberg University, was a neo-Kantian German philosopher of the Badische Schule with an interest in psychology and the cultural sciences. He was widely read among Japanese scholars in the early decades of the twentieth century.

[24] “Boronya tetsugaku taikai” (Bologna philosophical conference), Sōbun Year 2, no. 8 (1911.8), pp. 157-162; “Yūshugaku bankoku taikai ni oite” (The International Eugenics Congress), Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 130 (1913.6), pp. 1-43.  Translator’s note: The Fourth World Conference of Philosophy took place in Bologna in April 1911 and many sessions were dedicated to the history of  philosophy. The First International Eugenics Congress was held in London in July 1912 with 400 delegates.

[25] Mitsui Kō, “Onshi Tomonaga sensei” (My esteemed teacher Tomonaga [Sanjūrō]) in Omoide op. cit. (Note 4), p. 66.

[26] Ibid. p. 82.

[27] Kinsei ni okeru “ga” no jikakushi. Tokyo: Hōbunkan, 1916.

[28] “Kinsei ni okeru “ga” no jikakushi” (A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times), Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 138 (1914.2), pp. 38-69, 139 (1914.3), pp. 1-35, 144 (1914.8), pp. 11-47. In 1914 and 1915 Tomonaga wrote several essays simultaneously; it was the period he published most intensively.

[29] “The reform in European thought that took place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries bears in its character some similarity with the reform of our own Meiji Restoration. They are very similar in that, as civilisations with a strong self-identity, they discovered another, quite different, civilisation, and, realising that this civilisation, which they had regarded as uncivilised, was, in many important ways, richer and superior to their own, they completely reconstructed their world view based on natural science, and liberated the conscience of the individual that had previously been bound both ethically and in terms of learning, by traditional lore and by faith.” “Kinsei ni okeru ‘ga’ no jikakushi”, Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 138, p. 40.

[30] Doitsu shisō to sono haikei (Tokyo: Hōbunkan, 1916).

[31] “Shisōjō no kokusan shōreiron ni tsuite”, Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 149 (1915.1), pp. 18-31.

[32] “Doitsu shisō to gunkokushugi”, Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 150 (1915.2), pp. 40-75.

[33] “Shisōjō no kokusan shōreiron ni tsuite”, p. 27. In “Doitsu shisō to gunkokushugi”, pp. 51-52, he discussed the differences between Hegel and Nietzsche.

[34] “Seccho no hihan no taishite”, Teiyū rinrikai rinri kōenshū 172 (1916.12), pp. 27-46.

[35] Translator’s note: Bushidō (“Way of the Warrior”) was an ideal popularized in the late nineteenth century principally through the writings of Nitobe Inazō (1862-1933).

[36] Translator’s note: The swords made by the swordsmith Masamune (ca 13th century) are regarded as the greatest examples of the art of sword-making. Here it is used in the sense of a “double-edged blade”.

[37] Translator’s note: The book was composed of five chapters. “German Thought and Militarism” appeared as Chapter Three (pp. 104-161) and “Encouragement of Domestic Production” appeared as Chapter Five (pp. 220-240).

[38] Two letters to Tomonaga Sanjūrō, 9 October 1919 (Letter 257) and 10 October 1919 (Letter 258).  Nishida Kitarō zenshū Vol. 18 (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1953), pp. 215-218.

[39] “Kanto no eienteki heiwaron no hanmen”, Tetsugaku kenkyū 60 (1921), pp. 1-29.

[40] “Kanto no heiwaron ni tsuite – Jūichigatsu muika Kyōto tetsugakukai kōen” (Kant’s discourse in peace, a lecture given to the Kyoto Philosophical Society, November 6), Tetsugaku kenkyū 70 (1922), pp. 33-66.

[41] “Kanto no heiwaron”, Kaizō (1922.3), pp. 1-47.

[42] Kanto no heiwaron (Tokyo: Kaizōsha, 1922).

[43] Japanese translation of Kant’s Perpetual Peace: Tōyama Yoshitaka (trans.), “Eien heiwa no tame ni”, Kanto zenshū 14 Rekishi tetsugaku ronshū (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 2000), p. 273. All italics are as they appear in the original. Translator’s note: The English translation is from Hans Siegbert Reiss, Kant: Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991 [1970]), p. 104.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Tomonaga, Kanto no heiwaron, p. 23.

[46] Op. cit. pp. 22-25.

[47] Op cit. p. 24.

[48] Ibid.

[49] For a comprehensive summary, see Matsuyama Shin’ichi, “Tomonaga Sanjūrō ni okeru Kanto no heiwaron, tsuke, Kanokogi Kazunobu to Kameya Seikei to ni okeru Kanto no heiwaron” (Kant’s discourse on peace according to Tomonaga Sanjūrō, with supplement, Kant’s discourse on peace according to Kanokogi Kazunobu and Kameya Seikei), in Matsuyama Shin’ichi chosakushū (Collected works of Matsuyama Shin’ichi) Vol. 7 Taishō tetsugakushi kenkyū (A study of philosophy in the Taishō era), (Tokyo: Kobushi shobō, 1999, first published 1965), pp. 126-159; Katagi Kiyoshi, “’Eikyū heiwaron’ yori mita waga kuni ni okeru Kanto no juyō ni tsuite” (The reception of Kant in Japan seen in terms of “Perpetual Peace”), in Ienaga Saburō and Komaki Osamu eds. Tetsugaku to Nihon shakai (Philosophy and Japanese Society), (Tokyo: Kōbundō, 1978).

[50] Kuwaki Gen’yoku, “Kanto no rekishi tetsugaku ni tsuite” (Kant’s philosophy of history), Tetsugaku zasshi 340 (1916.6), Kanto to gendai no tetsugaku (Kant and modern philosophy), (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1911); Yoneda Shōtarō, “Kanto no rekishi tetsugaku (4)” (Kant’s history of philosophy, 4), Tetsugaku kenkyū 40 (1919), pp. 78-104; Imanaka Tsugimaro, “Kanto no keiyakuteki kokusai shakai ron” (Kant’s international social contract), Gaikō jijō 419 (1922.4), “Kanto no seiji shisō” (Kant’s political thought), Dōshisha ronsō 8 (1922.6).

[51] Kanokogi Kazunobu, Eien no ikusa, Tokyo: Dōbunkan, 1915, “Kanto no ‘Eien no heiwa’ o ronzu” (On Kant’s Perpetual Peace), Tetsugaku zasshi 353,354 (1916.7, 1916.8); Kameya Seikei, Eien no heiwa (Perpetual peace), (Tokyo: Kōdōkan, 1918).

[52] Dekaruto (Descartes), (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1935), “Seiyō tetsugakushi gaisetsu, kinsei zenki” (Outline of the history of western philosophy, first half of the early modern period), Iwanami kōza tetsugaku (Iwanami lectures on philosophy) Vol. 3. (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1933), Dekaruto Seisatsuryoku (Descartes’ Meditations), (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1936), etc.

[53] Tetsugakushiteki shōhin – Rusō, Kanto, Rottsue (A short history of philosophy – Rousseau, Kant, Lotze), (Nagoya: Reimei shobō, 1948); Renesansu oyobi sen-Kanto no tetsugaku (The Renaissance and pre-Kantian philosophy), (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1948).

[54] Kinsei ni okeru “ga” no jikakushi (A History of the Awareness of “Self” in Modern Times), revised edition (Tokyo: Hōbunkan, 1948).

[55] Yoshikawa Hiroyuki, Tekunogurōbu (Techno-Globe), (Tokyo: Kōgyō chōsakai, 1993).

[56] Nanbara Shigeru, “Kanto ni okeru kokusai seiji no rinen” (The ideal of international politics in Kant), in Seijigaku kenkyū, Onozuka kyōju zaishoku nijūgonen kinen (A study of political science, in commemoration of twenty-five years work by Professor Ono), ed. Yoshino Sakuzō, (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1927), pp. 492-564, “Kanto ni okeru sekai chitsujo no rinen” (The ideal of a world system in Kant), Nanbara Shigeru chōsakushū (Complete works of Nanbara Shigeru), Vol. 1, (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1972, first published 1942), pp. 121-194. The content of the two is slightly different. Concerning Nanbara’s argument, see Karube Tadashi, “Heiwa e no mezame” (Awakening to peace), Shisō (2003.1), pp. 15171; Katō Takashi, Nanbara Shigeru, (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1997). Translator’s note: In English, see also War and Conscience in Japan: Nambara Shigeru and the Asia-Pacific War, edited and translated by Richard H. Minear (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2010); Andrew E. Barshay, State and Intellectual in Imperial Japan: the Public Man in Crisis,  (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1988); Andrew E. Barshay, “The Public Man and the Public World in Modern Japan: Nanbara Shigeru and Hasegawa Nyozekan Revisited”, Social Science Japan Journal 7: 2 (2004), pp. 263-275.

[57] Kōsaka Masaaki, “Kanto no eikyū heiwaron” (Kant’s Perpetual Peace), Tenbō (1951.1),pp. 38-43, Seiji, jiyū oyobi unmei ni kansuru kōsatsu (A Study in the Intellectual History of Peace), (Tokyo: Kōbundō, 1947), “Sekai kōmin no tachiba” (The standpoint of the world citizen), in Kōsaka Masaaki chōsakushū Vol. 3, (Tokyo: Risōsha, 1965), pp. 181-223 (first published 1947).

[58] Typical of the work of this period are Katagi Kiyoshi, “Kanto no ‘Eikyū heiwaron’ no rekishiteki igi to hōhōron no mondai” (The historical significance of Kant’s Perpetual Peace and issues of methodology), Kokusai gakuin Saitama daigaku kenkyū kiyō 8 (1987); Miyata Mitsuo, “Kanto no heiwaron to gendai” (Kant’s Perpetual Peace and the modern day), in Miyata Mitsuo, Heiwa no shisōshiteki kenkyū (An intellectual historical study of peace), (Tokyo: Sōbunsha, 1987), pp. 137-199 (first published 1977); Utsunomiya Yoshiaki, “Eien heiwa no kōsō” (Conception of perpetual peace), in Utsunomiya Yoshiaki, Kanto no kami (Kant and God), (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1998, first published 1987), “Kanto no heiwa no tetsugaku” (Kant’s philosophy of peace), Hokkaidō daigaku hōgakubu kiyō 62 (1987), pp. 55-108, 223-258.

[59] Works of particular interest include: Banba Nobuya, “Heegeruteki kokka, rekishikan kara Kantoteki kyōdōtairon e” (From an Hegelian view of the state and history to a Kantian theory of community), Nihon heiwa gakkai henshū iinkai ed. Kōza heiwagaku 2 Heiwa no shisō (Lectures on Peace Studies 2, The idea of peace), (Tokyo: Waseda daigaku shuppanbu, 1984), pp. 113-136; Mogami Toshiki, Kokusai shisutemu o koete (Beyond the international system), (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1995).

[60] Eric S. Easley, The War over Perpetual Peace: An Exploration into the History of a Foundational International Text, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. See also Mark F. Franke, Global Limits: Immanuel Kant, International Relations, and Critique of World Politics, New York: University of New York Press, 2001.

[61] Translator’s note: Yan Fu (1854-1921) was a prominent interpreter of western ideas for Chinese audiences, translating scholars such as Thomas Huxley, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. He was interested in the theory of translation and offered his own interpretations to the ideas he translated. See Benjamin I. Schwartz, In Search of Wealth and Power: Yen Fu and the West. (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1964). This work has been translated by Hirano Ken’ichirō into Japanese (University of Tokyo Press, 1978). Hirano writes that “The development of a theory of international cultural relations can be traced back to Benjamin Schwartz’s study of Yan Fu. . . To analyze Yan Fu’s cultural struggles, Schwartz applied a path-breaking methodological framework, defining a culture as “a vast, ever-changing area of human experience” and proposing to deal with the encounter between two cultures as a vantage point for taking a new look at both cultures.” (“A Theory of International Cultural Relations: Development from Benjamin Schwartz’s Study of Yan Fu” [in Japanese], Journal of East Asian Cultural Interaction Studies 2, 2008). In English, see Hirano Kenichirō, “Professor Benjamin Schwartz’s Influence on the Studies of Yan Fu in Japan”, COE-CAS working paper, Waseda University, March 2007.

[62] Kenneth N. Waltz, Man, the State, and War: a theoretical analysis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959). (This was based on his doctoral dissertation, Man, the State and the State System in Theories of the Causes of War, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Political Science of Columbia University, New York, 1954.) Translator’s note: The three images for looking at the behaviour of international relations are: the individual (human behaviour), the state (internal structure), and the international system (international anarchy).

[63] Translator’s note: an IR theory that the international structure acts as a constraint on the actions of states (outlined in Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics [Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1979]).