Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


Religion and Society in the Work of Abe Jirō
and Mushakōji Saneatsu:
“Sympathy,” “Neighborly Love,” and the “Third Society”


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

Key words:

Abe Jirō, Mushakōji Saneatsu, personalism, sympathy, neighborly love, religion, Theodor Lipps, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Kant

Abe Jirō (1883–1959) declared that a good society can be created through “personalism” (1922). He thought that the improvement of individual personalities would lead to a virtuous society. Mushakōji Saneatsu (1885–1976) had a similar idea. Abe Jirō’s idea of “personalism” resembled Mushakōji Saneatsu’s thinking about the “ideal society.” In this essay, I have inspected their ideas. Abe Jirō said that sympathy is a kind of empathy; and empathy, when seen aesthetically, is also applicable to society.

I investigated the problem of sympathy from the point of view of empathy. The theory of empathy proposed by Theodor Lipps (1851–1914) was introduced in Japan in discussions of aesthetics and psychology. Mori ōgai (1862–1922) was the first to take up the problem, and it spread among the intellectuals of that time. Sympathy was understood in terms of religion when Schopenhauer’s thought was transmitted to Japan. Schopenhauer can be interpreted from a Buddhist point of view, as seen in the writing of Inoue Tetsujirō (1856–1944). I investigate “sympathy” and “neighborly love” from the time of Schopenhauer’s reception in Japan.

Lipps’s idea applies to all interpretations. Therefore, their interpretation differentiate with that of someone. But Abe’s and Mushakōji’s ideas resembled those of others in the same period. Ibsen (1828–1906), in his play Kejser og Galilaer (1873), had put forward something similar in his idea of “the third society” that unites the flesh as expressed by the Greek mind and the spirit as expressed by the Christian mind. Similarly, in Japan, Abe Jirō and Mushakōji Saneatsu saw their country as one in which sympathy and personalism were fused. Abe’s idea may also be compared to Hegel’s “philosophy of law,” and Mushakōji’s ideal society may be compared to Kant’s idea of a “goal country.” Abe and Mushakōji thought that religion is goodness.