Sept 28-30: Civilization & Enlightenment

After the chaos of the fall of the Tokugawa order, the immediate intellectual and political task was to establish some new framework that could become the basis of the new Meiji regime. The mere declaration of the Charter Oath in the first days of 1868 was not the same thing as producing a new order. Many viewpoints and policies competed during the first years of Meiji, gradually, through intellectual and occasional physical confrontation, these coalesced around the concept of “Civilization & Enlightenment” or bunmei-kaika (文明開化). Though an extensive and diverse movement, Fukuzawa Yukichi emerged as the major theorist of the first decades of the Meiji period.

Meiroku zasshi, selections (1873-5)

Fukuzawa Yukichi, Outline of a Theory of Civilization Chapters 1-4 and Chapters 8-10 (1875)

Images and very short essay on Technology in early Meiji

Image: “A Enlightened, Semi-Enlightened, and Unenlightened Person” by Kawanabe Kyosai (1870)