Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


The Structure of the Changes in Asajirou
Oka’s Shinkaron-Kouwa:
Through the comparison of the 1904 edition
and the1914 edition

SANUKI, Masakazu

(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies,
School of Cultural and Social Studies, Department of Japanese History)

Key words:

Asajirou Oka, Shinkaron-Kouwa (the theory of evolution lecture), three factors,
‘the position of the human in nature’, natural history, the reform of viewpoint,
social Darwinism, double standard of the wisdom, the Japanese Emperor system state,

How did evolutionists in modern Japan face the Japanese Emperor system? The purpose of this paper is to clarify Asajirou Oka’s (1868~1944) theory of evolution by considering his Shinkaron-Kouwa (1904~1914), to explain how Oka faced the Japanese Emperor system, and to explore the structure of the changes in his theory between 1904 and 1914.

Thus far, Oka’s theory of evolution has been criticized from various viewpoints. However, Oka’s evaluation is not final because, until now, researchers have criticized Oka’s ideas one-sidedly, without paying attention to the variety of Oka’s ideas and the evolution of his theory. Actually, three different factors co-existed in Oka in the early 1900’s; however, most researchers focused on only one or two of those factors. So the evaluation of the Shinkaron-Kouwa is as yet incomplete and rather one-sided. Therefore, this paper considers the logic of the Shinkaron-Kouwa, its readers’ various criticisms, and the changes to Oka’s theory between the two editions, showing how the three factors of Oka’s theory of evolution and ‘superstition’ intermingled in the 1904 edition, and how those factors changed by 1914.

In the first section, this paper examines the basic features and logic of the Shinkaron-Kouwa by putting the three factors of in-equality in the whole of the Shinkaron-Kouwa in order, considers that ‘the position of the human in nature’ could consist of ‘the fact of evolution’ and the theory of natural history that existed at the foundation of these two subjects, and finally shows the relevance of Oka’s thought from ‘the position of the human in nature’ to Oka’s republicanism in the 1920’s.

In the second section, this paper looks at readers’ various criticisms of the Shinkaron-Kouwa, examining their emphases, logic, and responses. Thus far, the general impression of the readers of Shinkaron-Kouwa has hardly been considered, but a thorough examination of how Oka’s theories were received will broaden understanding of the context surrounding the changes he made in the 1914 edition.

In the third section, this paper considers the structure of the changes in the three factors in Oka’s theory by comparing the two editions of the Shinkaron-Kouwa. From those considerations, this paper clarifies that the three factors of Oka’s theory of evolution and ‘superstition’ intermingled in the 1904 edition, and how his theory evolved by the 1914 edition. This section compares ‘the theory of evolution and religion’ of each edition relative to the characteristics of Oka’s three factors, examines the meaning of Oka’s “superstition” argument, and shows how the three factors concerning Oka’s theory of evolution changed with regard to his notion of “superstition” – in 1913, Oka’s concept of ‘superstition’ meant ‘the Japanese Emperor system’.