Online ISSN : 2187-5278
Print ISSN : 0387-3161
ISSN-L : 0387-3161
Modern Youth and Culture : Beyond "Kyoyoshugi"
Mitsuko Kitamura
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1999 Volume 66 Issue 3 Pages 268-277,366


"Kyoyoshugi" is a creed (or an 'ism') of personality development which emerged among Japanese intellectuals at the end of the Meiji period (in the era that began in 1910). Under the influence of the German concept of culture, "Bildung", the young elite hoped to become men of character through absorbing the great human cultures, especially the philosophies, arts and sciences of the West. They expected that their reasoning powers and wills, which control their behavior, would be empowered through contact with the great Western works. The young elite succeeded in developing their self-control in this way to a certain extent but, at the same time, they became concerned and felt they had lost intimate contact with the earth and others around them. Kyoyoshugi was in vogue mainly among high school (Kyuseikotogakko) and university students. And, as it has often been pointed out, these young elitists wanted to become cultivated men only to discriminate themselves from the young people who could not afford higher education. In this respect, Kyoyoshugi was rather snobbish. Many Japanese education scholars have criticized this negative side of Kyoyoshugi, especially following World War Two. Among these critics, Shuichi Katsuta, one of the eminent leaders of the new era, proposed a new concept of culture that was based on highly esteemed works of mankind. According to Katsuta, human beings have developed their senses and abilities such as thinking and communicating. Among these, the ability to think scientifically has attained significant importance to us in the modern industrial era. Katsuta insisted that a cultured person should possess various abilities and maintain them in harmony and that contributions made by these people would help society to progress. Katsuta believed that there were no limits for human beings to develop their abilities because the modern scientific technologies would seemingly continue to develop infinitely. We no longer agree with this optimistic view, since we have already come to realize that the modern scientific technologies can be used aggressively against nature and can seriously damage the earth's Eco-system. Reconsidering Katsuta's concept of culture and Kyoyoshugi from this point of view, we find a defect common to them, which is the same defect common to modern thought. Modern intelligence is productive. It produces not only goods but also the realities of things by means of representations, concepts and inferences. This way of thinking is utilitarian, and man-centric, and tends to ignore other beings. Beings that are not clearly represented in man's consciousness are neglected and often seen as being meaningless. The mental sufferings of the young elite culturists (Kyoyoshugisha) were also most likely caused by this difficulty found in modern thought. If a new culture can be constructed, it should be founded on an alterative way of thinking and communication. It should enable us to restore the senses and abilities that we have presumably lost in the modern era.

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