The Analysis of the Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa
Yukichi Fukuzawa was definitely one of the greatest Japanese theorists and thinkers during the Meiji era. He played a leading role in the development of Japan’s education system based on the ideas of Western civilization. The Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa is a book dictated by Fukuzawa offers a vivid portrait of the intellectual’s life story and a rare look inside the formation of a new japan. This book gives his accounts of growing up in the land of Samurai and emperors. He lived through the Meiji Restoration and died around the turn of the century and referred to the overhaul of the educational system, the growing industries, and the establishment of a strong military. In the Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa, many fundamentals of a successful Japan are discussed. Fukuzawa uses his vast life experiences from childhood social class matters to western travel in order to illustrate his point of view of japan. Specially, he highlightes “freedom’ and “independence” and maps out reasons why these matters are important and fundamental to the success of a nation. In his essay, Encouragement of Learning, he especially dwells on the meaning of freedom and importance in feudal Japan. In the text, he states, “‘Heaven never created a man above another nor a man below another,’ it is said. Therefore, when men are born, Heaven’s idea is that all men should be equal to all other men without distinction of high and low or noble and mean, but that they should all work with body and mind, with dignity worthy of the lords of creation, which they are, in order to take all things in the world for the fulfillment of their needs in clothing, food, and dwelling, freely but without obstructing others so that each can live happily through life” (Fukuzawa 391). In this quote he emphasizes that men indeed are equal to one another. This shows that through realization of equality, men should be working towards a common goal of give and take in order to sustain without obstruction. However, while this quote sums up a range of his opinions, Fukuzawa believes that the only matter truly giving man independence is knowledge. Knowledge is not based on scholarly activity, but through the experience of and desire to pursue enlightenment and worldly wisdom. Although one should pursue knowledge and learning, they must know limitations so they do not use their knowledge to infringe upon the freedom of others. Knowledge must be used for personal fulfillment and contribution to the common good, opposed to creating jealousy and boast. Man has the freedom to learn and be rejuvenated through wisdom, but should know his natural limitations so that the freedom of others is not inhibited. This concept ideally goes for most matters of the nation. The general idea is simply that one can become free and independent by learning with consideration for others. This is one of many ideas that provide a foundation for his statement, “The problems of freedom and independence exist with a nation as much as they do with an individual man.” This is true in the sense that each individual man creates a great contribution to the whole of a nation. By finding inner peace within oneself, and seeing this discovery in many men across the country is truly a gift. If individuals of the nation cannot realize their freedom and independence and use it to benefit the society, it is difficult to say that the nation can reach freedom and independence at all. A nation is made up entirely of its people and nothing more. It is important to utilize knowledge and experience in order to truly find a balance in life. This balance of give and take in order to have a successful, resourceful, and free nation is difficult to achieve, but a goal that can be reached through time and dedication.Fukuzawa promoted the equality of human being between nobles, samurais, farmers and merchants and compulsory education to the youth, so that...
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