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aikishrine
05-18-2009, 10:15 PM
How closely do you find the philosophies of Aikido and Bushido compare?

Or do you find that they are in no way similar?

aikishrine
05-18-2009, 10:52 PM
I find that most people i talk to find the ideals of Bushido to be overly romantic, and i suppose that those same people probably find the underlying spiritual aspects of Aikido to be the same. However i truly believe that these philosophies can be adhered to with a little bit of effort. I guess what i am looking for is what your opinions are on this.

I am not a religious person, but i am trying to become a spiritual person, and i believe these two separate "Ways" can provide a very profound "Path" to follow.

Charles Hill
05-18-2009, 11:43 PM
Hi Brian,

What are the ideals of bushido and how are they romantic?

Charles

Keith Larman
05-19-2009, 12:08 AM
I would suggest you do a search on Nitobe's writing and also look for critiques of it as well. Lots out there to read.

It ain't quite so simple...

Ron Tisdale
05-19-2009, 08:13 AM
I suggest that you do a search on bushida both here and at E-budo. The results should be quite enlightening.

Personally, I find no connection what ever between the two.

Best,
Ron

Stefan Stenudd
05-19-2009, 09:32 AM
The question is as interesting as it is difficult to answer.
I guess that it's safe to say that aikido has emerged from old bushido ideas, but also in some opposition to them. Instead of just trying to win a battle, its aim is to do away with battling.

True, one tradition of explaining the kanji for bu is "don't use the halberd", the ideal of refraining from fighting - but aikido has certainly taken this to a positive extreme.
I have always been intrigued by the aikido idea of learning peacefulness by practicing what is fundamentally an art of war. A paradox that can only be explained by actually doing it, practicing it.

Surely, such noble thoughts have been present also in traditional bushido, through the ages, but aikido refines them and comes with new, surprising solutions.

Rennis Buchner
05-19-2009, 11:11 AM
If you are following the ideas as put forth by Nitobe, then yes they are highly idealized and romantic. One might argue (and several have) that Nitobe was just about the worst person to write a historically accurate work on the ideals of the warrior class. He was very much a product of the race to modernize Japan, was educated overseas at the university level (first in the US, rather unsuccessfully and then later in Germany), spent years and years abroad and was a Quaker which he converted to by though his American wife's influence and he felt that there was a strong similarity to his Quaker faith and the ideals of the Japanese warrior and his faith colored much about how he viewed Japan.

During his uni days in Germany, one of his teachers asked him were the Japanese got their moral values from, since religion and morality were not subjects covered in the Japanese school system at that time. Nitobe had no answer to this question and supposedly it bothered him for many years. Much later in the later half of his life, he spent a chunk of time in California (if I recall correctly) while trying to recover from some illness and it was during this period of down time (somewhere between 6 months and a year again if memory serves me) that he decided to try and address the question and write the book "Bushido". The book was originally written in English for a Western audience and only later was it translated into Japanese and gained fame there.

The fact of the matter is that there was never really any single defined "bushido" at any point in Japanese history (at least until World War Two anyways). The closest things we can probably find are various documents surviving in the records of various domains with "pointers" on how warriors of said domain were expected to live, but these all vary radically from each other and were very much subject to the whims of the lord, etc writing them. Many of the works famous now (Hagakure comes to mind) only achieved their fame much later and their influence around the time of their writing tended to be minimal and/or local.


Surely, such noble thoughts have been present also in traditional bushido, through the ages, but aikido refines them and comes with new, surprising solutions.

Regarding the refining and surprising solutions, I thought that for many years as well, but the longer I spend in Japan doing the research I am doing, the more it seems to me that Ueshiba was just recycling things that had been floating around for centuries before. While I wouldn't say said ideas were completely commonplace, there were a number of ryu that did carry the philosophy to equal extremes and, in some cases I think, much more elegantly than the somewhat haphazard situation that is Aikido (I have no doubt Ueshiba was a man of gifts such that we rarely see, but in many areas he was obviously winging it). It's to the point these days where outside of some of the Omoto-kyo stuff, I don't really see much of anything original in what he brought to the table. Not that that makes the pursuit any less worthwhile of course....

Hmmm, did I stir the pot enough there?
Rennis Buchner

Ron Tisdale
05-19-2009, 11:12 AM
True, one tradition of explaining the kanji for bu is "don't use the halberd",

Uh, pretty much a mis-placed tradition, according to the writings of people more knowlegable than I am. Check out the postings of Peter Goldsbury and Josh Reyer, here and on aikido journal.

"Bushido" carries much the same baggage.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
05-19-2009, 11:22 AM
Hey Rennis, good to read you again...

Best,
Ron

Rennis Buchner
05-19-2009, 11:22 AM
Uh, pretty much a mis-placed tradition, according to the writings of people more knowlegable than I am. Check out the postings of Peter Goldsbury and Josh Reyer, here and on aikido journal.


The idea of "bu" meaning "stop the halberd" or its various permutations is not linquistically accurate from my understanding, but the use of that idea is in fact fairly old in Japan and while it may not be linquistically accurate, it is something that has colored the Japanese view of the character for quite a long time. Within the ryu I am a member of, one of the core teachings of the entire tradition is based off of a permutation hoko/todomeru idea. We have densho dating back to the 1600's surviving that talk about this teaching in great detail.

Rennis Buchner

Ron Tisdale
05-19-2009, 11:23 AM
Kool, first I've heard of that from an older tradition...Thanks!
R

odudog
05-19-2009, 03:07 PM
Mr. Buchner, could you please go into further detail of how Osensei was just winging it and other points in your statement. I'm assuming that you have knowledge and access to things in Japan that I can't get a hold of. Please stir up the pot!! Would love to learn more.

Stefan Stenudd
05-19-2009, 05:59 PM
Regarding the refining and surprising solutions, I thought that for many years as well, but the longer I spend in Japan doing the research I am doing, the more it seems to me that Ueshiba was just recycling things that had been floating around for centuries before.
I am reminded of what is said about Western tradition: Everything ever thought is a footnote in the works of Plato. Not that he used footnotes...

About the halberd thingy: As I implied, that interpretation can be discussed, but it has been around for very long, so it is definitely one of the traditions within bushido, contributing to its context and expressions.

Peter Goldsbury
05-19-2009, 06:29 PM
Hello,

I am not Rennis, but I am presently researching on kotodama for my next few columns and I can tell you that, from the evidence, Ueshiba's view of kotodama was a blend of borrowings from Esoteric Buddhism and Deguchi's Reikai Monogatari.

Mr. Buchner, could you please go into further detail of how Osensei was just winging it and other points in your statement. I'm assuming that you have knowledge and access to things in Japan that I can't get a hold of. Please stir up the pot!! Would love to learn more.

PAG

Josh Reyer
05-19-2009, 10:47 PM
Regarding the "bu" character, my personal assertions have always been as follows:

Historically, the character is a combination of a spear element and a walking/marching element. The walking/marching element looks very similar to the current character for "stop" (for related reasons), but it did not have that meaning when the character was first created. Thus, from an origin standpoint, it is not "stop the spears".

Idiomatically, the character has no instrinsic pacifistic or alturistic sense. It is used in senses of ferocity, strength and battle. In the more philosophical realm, you have the phrase Genna Enbu, referring to the end of major military action of the Sengoku period; it marks the start of the Pax Tokugawa. Ostensibly, budo arts were still practiced to put down rebellions (stop spears) and keep the peace, but the start of peace in the first year of Genna is nonetheless called "The Genna Laying Down of 'Bu'". On the mundane side, you have buki, a "vessel of 'bu'" meaning "weapon". If you ask the typical Japanese person what "bu" means, they'll talk about war and fighting, and the idea of "stopping spears" won't even occur to them unless pointed out.

Philosophically, "stopping spears" really is a wonderful, meaningful sentiment, that succinctly describes why we study "budo". Much like Choisai's saying, "Heiho 兵法 is Heiho 平法" (The ways of battle are the ways of peace), it's a great statement that's not meant to be taken literally. So, personally, I have no issue with it until people start throwing words like "really means" or "etymology" or "original meaning" around.

Rennis Buchner
05-19-2009, 10:55 PM
Mr. Buchner, could you please go into further detail of how Osensei was just winging it and other points in your statement. I'm assuming that you have knowledge and access to things in Japan that I can't get a hold of. Please stir up the pot!! Would love to learn more.

Please just call me Rennis. Peter Goldsbury's writings show fairly well many aspects of Ueshiba was often just "going with the flow" as it were. Ueshiba seems to have been something of a person striving for something, but often it seems like he wasn't really sure what it was striving for. As a result he seemed to jump from one thing to another, being very intense about it while he was there, and then eventually moving on to something else. As a result it seems to me that his art is a bit of a mixing pot of various things. Technically it is obvious that the majority is pretty much right out of the Daito-ryu hand book (for those who might argue that aikido is fundamentally different than Daito-ryu technically, I find aikido to be really not much different than many of the Daito-ryu groups are from each other). As far as the philosophical bits related to his martial art goes, most of the major concepts there I can find in other much older ryuha (heck I can find most of them in my own ryu). The divine non-killing business, check. The ideas of everything and everyone coming from one universal source, check. :circle: :square: :triangle: are pretty common in a number of different arts (in fact aikido is missing a couple of the other ones they are commonly grouped with). The whole principle of non-clashing and all the permutations that go with it technically and philosophically, check. Skills coming directly from various deities, check.

There are numerous other examples, but I have to start getting ready for work here. Anyways, it seems to me that rather than creating much new, Ueshiba was just taking bits and pieces of already existing ideas and using what spoke to him in a rather haphazard way. I think a lot of the idea of him creating a totally new art for today's world was, while possibly some of his intent, also a bit of a PR job after the fact. Anyways, other people, such as Mr Goldsbury, have written in much more depth on these things from the Aikido side of things. I've just noticed that most of the hallmark points of aikido many talk about I have come across in traditions much older. Again, not being 100% original doesn't make the end goal any less worthy so maybe it is not so important in the grand scheme of things.

Rennis Buchner

Buck
05-19-2009, 11:27 PM
. Anyways, it seems to me that rather than creating much new, Ueshiba was just taking bits and pieces of already existing ideas and using what spoke to him in a rather haphazard way. I think a lot of the idea of him creating a totally new art for today's world was, while possibly some of his intent, also a bit of a PR job after the fact. I've just noticed that most of the hallmark points of aikido many talk about I have come across in traditions much older. Again, not being 100% original doesn't make the end goal any less worthy so maybe it is not so important in the grand scheme of things.



Rennis said it well, and that is what I have been saying in numerous threads. Rennis said it quite nicely. Now to throw out something I have been holding back, something I wanted to say when I discussed Aikido and String theory, but at the time would have been too much, and Rennis touch on it in combination with what I quoted him saying. That is :circle: :square: :triangle: is old budo geometry that is only the equation. It is what you do with that equation that sparks interest and underlines the mysticism. So what if that process of the equation is fractal geometry? Aikido and Bushido is then fractal. Fractal ( :circle: :square: :triangle: iteration being stressed with the idea of "infinitely complex" ) plays a new dynamic in the way we approach and see waza? In the most simplist and entertaining ways to think about it, nature, shintoism, Aikido and Bushido, and fractal fits right in.

Questioning as I said before is important, and not being dependent on what others tell you, but rather it coming from yourself and your own discoveries really enhances your practice of Aikido, and leads you to the heart of Aikido and to it being a Budo.

Charles Hill
05-20-2009, 03:52 AM
Hi Rennis,

I certainly understand about how Ueshiba may not have been offering anything entirely new, he himself basically said the same thing, right? However, I am not sure how you get he was "winging it" and "not really sure what it was (that he) was striving for." What specifically are you basing this on? My understanding is that upon meeting Onisaburo Deguchi, he had found what he was looking for and kept to that path the rest of his life.

As for the original post, I believe that Aikido (Japanese style) and Bushido are very similar. It is my understanding that what we get as "Bushido" is largely a leading-up-to WWII construct designed to convince the populace to toe the line and to sacrifice for the sake of the state. Perhaps it is just the massive pessimist in me, but I see the role Aikido often plays in Japan to be somewhat similar.

Ron Tisdale
05-20-2009, 10:48 AM
Oh, and Stefan, Happy B-Day!
Best,
Ron

Rennis Buchner
05-20-2009, 07:13 PM
My understanding is that upon meeting Onisaburo Deguchi, he had found what he was looking for and kept to that path the rest of his life.

Regarding the "striving for something" of Ueshiba, I believe Ellis Amdur posted something about that element of his personality a while ago, but his views more or less jive with my impressions of the man.

As for finding what he was looking for with Deguchi, the general impression I get myself is that Ueshiba's time with Deguchi was in some ways quite similar to his time with Takeda Sokaku. That is to say he stumbled upon something that "spoke to him" at that point in his life, engaged in an extended period of intense focus and study on it, and then eventually distanced himself from it while still retaining a great deal of the core ideals. In the case of the Omoto-kyo, the distancing might have had some political elements to it as well (I think that is an oversimplification of a complex man), but if he was such a true believer and close student of Deguchi, why didn't he stick with it through the good times and the bad? Ueshiba seems to me to have been endlessly looking for something better, first from outside teachers, then eventually from the kami directly. In any case with both Daito-ryu and Omoto-kyo you could argue that he didn't really stick with them to the bitter end, even if the greater part of what he was doing himself came from them and he seems to have taken an idea from here, a concept from there throughout his entire life.

My comments about "winging it", while being a bit casual, I still stand by to a certain degree and are based on that pattern of "do something, move on" he seems to have had. This is especially true with elements of creating the organizational and educational models of the art, as well as the technical cirriculum itself, which is to say, he didn't seem to really have any plan at all (some might argue that Ueshiba's teaching model was based off of an older ideal on the method of instruction. While there is much to that argument, Ueshiba didn't really follow that method to the letter either). Technically he kind of followed Daito-ryu, but any ideas of formally organizing anything seemed to have been beyond him and mostly fell to his son later. Simpy put, he had people show up and train on whatever he felt like doing that day, when it gets too big, pass it off on someone else and let them deal with it, I can't be bothered as I have more important stuff to work on. Ueshiba never seemed to be working from any master plan and in many ways it seems to me like aikido as the art we know it now, was kind of a victim of his do it and move on tendencies. Not that he every stopped practicing and refining "his" art, but when he had finally gotten a decent level of name recognition for the art of aikido, he seems to have again "lost interest" as it were and dumped the whole thing off on his son to organize and he moves off to the country to do his own thing again. Many have commented that Aikido as we know it now is a product of the second Doshu and I would agree. When viewed very generally of Ueshiba's life seems to be him following whatever new adventure he discovered until he found something new and better. Martials arts... wait, a new life and adventure in Hokkaido.. Oh my god Daito-ryu..... wait..actually, Omoto-kyo!!..... hmmm, well maybe Aiki-budo... wait no, Aikido... come to think of it, aiki-farming in the country..... etc.

I think in many ways aikido is more a sum total of the various things Ueshiba happened to find himself stumbling into over the course of his life more than any particular gameplan he developed at some point. He was a rare combination of a man of great talent who was also in a situation to be able to freely pursue just about path that struck his fancy and he did so.

Also, if a guy today claimed to have gleened the proper use of the naginata by simply reading a comic book and then staying up all night that day thinking about it and getting enlightenment on the issue from the gods, regardless of how sincere he might be, we would say he was winging it (actually we'd probably say he was crazy), so I stand by my comments in that regard.

More random thoughts,
Rennis Buchner

lbb
05-21-2009, 08:13 AM
I can't claim the level of scholarship of many of those participating in those threads, but it seems to me that comparing aikido to bushido is comparing apples to oranges. Bushido was a "way", a do, that was reserved for members of a certain social class. It was an ideal whose particulars changed over the centuries, not a static thing, and while certainly not every bushi lived up to its ideals, it would seem nonsensical for a peasant to pursue bushido. Aikido doesn't seem to have any such class connotations.

aikishrine
05-21-2009, 08:28 AM
Honor,
Respect,
Compassion,
Honesty,
Courage,
Loyalty,
Rectitude(right thoughts and actions).

The 7 virtues of Bushido, it seems to me that these are qualities that could very well be adhered to in today's society, as well as the past.
And not just by a certain social class, but for all classes and walks of life. I also believe that these virtues fit nicely with Aikido(the way of spirit and harmony).

Anyway that is just my belief, i am glad that you all are giving me your input. Thanks

Ron Tisdale
05-21-2009, 09:11 AM
Hi Brian,

I think the salient question here though, is do those virtues REALLY represent Bushido, either as an over all concept, or in terms of the various uses of the term in individual areas at specific periods of time. If you go with the overall concept, then you have to look at a kind of sum total or amalgam of those ideas...which of course then should include the way the idea of Bushido was used in WWII by the government to incite violence and war.

Then, having selected one of those areas, and periods of time that match the items listed in your post; is there any true correlation between Ueshida and his influences and that time/place you accept for the definition for "Bushido" (the time/period closest to him is in fact during the mis-use of the concept leading up to and during the war [I can't believe anyone in aikido in the US would actually want to go there]).

I was taught the "meaning of the pleats of the hakama" thingy and "Bushido" too...but I choose to take that kind of thing with a few grains of salt. It is part of the mythology of Japanese martial art and specifically, many forms of aikido, even if only in passing. BUT...I also think these things are not to be taken too literally, and I don't think too much should be made of them.

Best,
Ron

Rennis Buchner
05-21-2009, 09:26 AM
I can't claim the level of scholarship of many of those participating in those threads, but it seems to me that comparing aikido to bushido is comparing apples to oranges. Bushido was a "way", a do, that was reserved for members of a certain social class. It was an ideal whose particulars changed over the centuries, not a static thing, and while certainly not every bushi lived up to its ideals, it would seem nonsensical for a peasant to pursue bushido. Aikido doesn't seem to have any such class connotations.

On the other hand, you could very well argue that what most people consider "Bushido" today was very much a product of the military/government leading up into World War Two and that brand of "Bushido" was very much a product aimed that the general population rather than an elite warrior class. More over, it was during a period when Ueshiba was very much active and he seems to have been as influenced by the times as anyone else (adventures in Mongolia anyone?). Of course after the war it is likely much of that influence was downplayed for obvious reasons.

DH
05-21-2009, 09:37 AM
Whenever the samurai-wanna-be's wax romantic about the past I always say with a fiegned gleam in my eye "Lets imagine we can go back to that era wouldn't that be great? I'll go back as a war lord who just successfully attacked a castle. And you? You go back...............as a peasant farmer owing taxes with a bad crop yield!"

What was that other diddy? Hell for a bushi would be reincarnated as a Bushi.

The entire affair seemed to be a stiffling way to live. But taken as a whole the entire world was a system of the haves stepping on the necks of others. I think most dissmissed the whole "noble night" farse a long time ago.

All that said -can we count the times Ueshiba stated flatly that Aikido was budo, that aiki was budo, that Takeda (who described his art as defensive) opened his eyes to true budo!
That he taught the military, was part of rightwing groups, and may have taught assasins? Then spent time talking about love.
Somewhere in there is the dualism of his message.
But most certainly aikido never was about the Samurai or anything to do with the samurai.
Cheers
Dan

Aikibu
05-21-2009, 10:08 AM
Whenever the samurai-wanna-be's wax romantic about the past I always say with a fiegned gleam in my eye "Lets imagine we can go back to that era wouldn't that be great? I'll go back as a war lord who just successfully attacked a castle. And you? You go back...............as a peasant farmer owing taxes with a bad crop yield!"

What was that other diddy? Hell for a bushi would be reincarnated as a Bushi.

The entire affair seemed to be a stiffling way to live. But taken as a whole the entire world was a system of the haves stepping on the necks of others. I think most dissmissed the whole "noble night" farse a long time ago.

All that said -can we count the times Ueshiba stated flatly that Aikido was budo, that aiki was budo, that Takeda (who described his art as defensive) opened his eyes to true budo!
That he taught the military, was part of rightwing groups, and may have taught assasins? Then spent time talking about love.
Somewhere in there is the dualism of his message.
But most certainly aikido never was about the Samurai or anything to do with the samurai.
Cheers
Dan

In my opinion it will take several generations before the term or the philosophy of Bushido will mean anything else other than an expression of the extreme horror and suffering of Japanese Militarism.

Aikido is about Budo. There is simply no corrolation with Bushido other than Ushiba Shihan's possible shame about his small contribution to the horrors of WWII hence "postwar" Aikido.

The Fracking Japanese still deny slaughtering the entire Chinese city of Nanjing (Nanking) and other similiar atrocities all over Asia and the Pacific behind the Samurai philosophy of "bushido"

This is Memorial Day Weekend and lets please remember that thousands of good men died and others lived through hell defending us against the promoters of "Bushido".

William Hazen

Ron Tisdale
05-21-2009, 10:25 AM
But most certainly aikido never was about the Samurai or anything to do with the samurai.
Cheers
Dan

Most Samurai of the time probably wouldn't give a rat's @$$ about aikido or us...no matter how hard we train or severe we make our appearance. This whole glorification of the past and the glories of Rome, Istanbul, Timbuktu, yada yada yada amazes me.

Saw it in African American Studies too...it was one of the major reasons I decided not to go into the field.

Best,
Ron (I really hate it when they make s*** up) :(

lbb
05-21-2009, 10:41 AM
That he taught the military, was part of rightwing groups, and may have taught assasins? Then spent time talking about love.
Somewhere in there is the dualism of his message.

The minister of my old church was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I never asked him what kind of helicopters he flew. I knew him as an admirable person of great moral integrity, but he never claimed that his past didn't exist. This wasn't a case of dualism, IMO, but of a person changing.

DH
05-21-2009, 10:59 AM
And I know Pasters who are IN the military and on active duty. i was an assoc.Pastor leading an outreach ministry involving twelve churches distributing 45,000 lbs of food a month...WHILE practicing MMA. Your pastor does not define Ueshiba's method any more than my examples do. It is not the examples that are the issue
Cheers
Dan

lbb
05-21-2009, 01:10 PM
Dan, I didn't say my minister (not pastor) had anything at all to do with Ueshiba and aikido. When someone responds to something you're saying, it doesn't mean they're disagreeing with you.

(but, you know, you're not the boss of what "the issue" is, either)

DH
05-21-2009, 01:30 PM
Hi Mary
Of course not! I was trying to suggest that none of those examples are relevant to define Ueshiba; not my example, yours or others. His example stands for itself.
Have a great weekend
Dan

DH
05-21-2009, 01:51 PM
Dan, I didn't say my minister (not pastor) had anything at all to do with Ueshiba and aikido. When someone responds to something you're saying, it doesn't mean they're disagreeing with you.

(but, you know, you're not the boss of what "the issue" is, either)
Yes I just re-read that. It did look that way didn't it? I hope my follow up explanation made more sense.
Again, have a great weekend.
Dan

Don_Modesto
05-21-2009, 02:46 PM
....Bushido was a "way", a do, that was reserved for members of a certain social class. It was an ideal whose particulars changed over the centuries, not a static thing, and while certainly not every bushi lived up to its ideals, it would seem nonsensical for a peasant to pursue bushido. Aikido doesn't seem to have any such class connotations."Procrustean" is a term that always occurs to me in this kind of discussion: the concepts can expand or contract as needed to accommodate the speaker.

The 7 virtues thing is great. But what about when loyalty, e.g., conflicts with rectitude (much the situation with our front line torturers and the bad apples ordering it, e.g.)?

And how different is Bushido actually from Shingaku, a code for commoners? Those 7 would certainly hold for them, too, in different degrees, perhaps, but nothing that clever wordsmithing couldn't accommodate.

And how much would a bushi from Kagoshima want to think his code of honor resembled that of a bushi from Edo anyway?

Bushido--is it really anything more than a historical version of the placebo?

Don_Modesto
05-21-2009, 02:48 PM
Ron (I really hate it when they make s*** up) :(

Hey, Ron.

Succinct and on target, as usual.

Don_Modesto
05-21-2009, 02:50 PM
The minister of my old church was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I never asked him what kind of helicopters he flew. I knew him as an admirable person of great moral integrity, but he never claimed that his past didn't exist. This wasn't a case of dualism, IMO, but of a person changing.Unless, of course, his name was Hugh Thompson...

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Thompson,_Jr.)

lbb
05-21-2009, 03:19 PM
Yes I just re-read that. It did look that way didn't it? I hope my follow up explanation made more sense.
Again, have a great weekend.
Dan
Totally, and thanks for clarifying -- you have a great weekend too!

aikishrine
05-21-2009, 03:38 PM
Take away the word "Bushido" and just look at the 7 virtues and tell me that these "precepts" if you will, are not a great way of trying to live ones life. I can certainly think of alot of worse ways to go:grr:

aikishrine
05-21-2009, 03:43 PM
I also try to live by the 14 mindfulness trainings of the way of interbeing that Thich Nhat Hanh writes about.

I guess you could say that i am trying to forge my own path using Aikido, Bushido, and Interbieng.

But i am not the sharpest tool in the shed, so i may be heading up an impossible impasse.

Keith Larman
05-21-2009, 04:07 PM
Don't you already have an innate understanding of right and wrong without having to validate it according to some idealized set of "rules" made up in some cases by academics and petty bureaucrats?

Keith Larman
05-21-2009, 04:59 PM
In rereading my post I really don't want it to sound like a challenge. It's just that most attempts to codify ethical/moral behavior seem to me to miss the point of simply *being ethical*. I just think one doesn't need to model their life on someone else's construct as it is at best an unnecessary layer of abstraction.

aikishrine
05-21-2009, 10:46 PM
In rereading my post I really don't want it to sound like a challenge. It's just that most attempts to codify ethical/moral behavior seem to me to miss the point of simply *being ethical*. I just think one doesn't need to model their life on someone else's construct as it is at best an unnecessary layer of abstraction.

Then i guess catholics and christians shouldnt follow the ten commandments. I think everyone needs a guide of sorts. It doesnt have to be an end all but just a reference point.

Keith Larman
05-21-2009, 11:59 PM
Then i guess catholics and christians shouldnt follow the ten commandments. I think everyone needs a guide of sorts. It doesnt have to be an end all but just a reference point.

Is the man a saint because he does something right as a result of following the guide or is it because he did something right because he knows it's right without being told?

If it is the latter then the guidelines become somewhat superfluous... If it is the former, well, the behavior is quite empty really. "I was just following orders."

It doesn't mean there aren't "good" guidelines out there for "good" behavior. Like always share your snacks with your friends. Buy a round. Just IMHO they're just not terribly helpful. They are trivial and self-evident most of the time. Heck, if you *need* guidelines to tell you what's right in most situations then I'd suggest there are other problems much deeper involved.

Sure, there are many very difficult ethical dilemmas out there. But most of those aren't exactly easily resolved regardless. If we just fall back on "this is right because God /Ueshiba /Jesus /Buddha /Allah /Vishnu/ Nitobe/ Hagakure/ Tale of Genji/ Bible/ Koran/ the voice in my head/ Limbaugh/ Colbert/ said so" then we really haven't resolved all that much. Unless you're a firm believer in (fill in the blank)'s omniscience and omni benevolence then in that case you don't have to struggle with the tough issues.

In all seriousness, the entire concept of "bushido" was pretty much made up post hoc. Appealing on many levels, sure, but is it really an effective approach to living life in a world saturated with shades of grey?

Ron Tisdale
05-22-2009, 07:40 AM
Then i guess catholics and christians shouldnt follow the ten commandments. I think everyone needs a guide of sorts. It doesnt have to be an end all but just a reference point.

And how many times have people from that religion and every other found themselves in situations where expediency ruled the day?

As Keith said, rules are fine...as a reference point. But when you are in a situation where the rules don't seem to fit...or when real sacrifice is called for to employ them, or where your life or another's is hanging in the balance...what then?

The samurai were first and foremost about expediency...rules about loyalty were jettisoned when the situation demanded. Loyalty to what...to whom??? One's lord? Yeah, right up until the time where you decided that your lord was doing something you could not tolerate. Or once you decided that lord was on the losing side. An ideal? Hitler was loyal to his ideals :(

Better to struggle to be a True Human Being. That won't be codified, any more than life can be codified.

Best,
Ron

lbb
05-22-2009, 01:15 PM
I think there's a big difference between following the "n tenets of being a do-bee as espoused by spiritual leader so-and-so" because you don't have any ideas of your own on which to base ethical behavior, and finding something in somebody else's teachings that casts some illumination on your own set of ethics. Maybe the teachings do a good job of articulating something that you believe, or maybe they help you refine your thoughts on something, or maybe they provide you with additional food for thought that helps you to develop your own ethics further. Spiritual teachings aren't necessarily spiritual proscriptions/prescriptions.

Ron Tisdale
05-22-2009, 01:56 PM
Hi Mary,

What does the bible call that...True Religeon? Yep, I'm there with you. I guess I just like to make sure people have the brain engaged, and aren't just spouting the party line.

Party Lines are dangerous, just ask anyone caught up in the Cultural Revolution...

Best,
Ron (remember when a party line was that thing when you could hear other people talking on the phone??) ;)

Kevin Leavitt
05-22-2009, 02:05 PM
The minister of my old church was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. I never asked him what kind of helicopters he flew. I knew him as an admirable person of great moral integrity, but he never claimed that his past didn't exist. This wasn't a case of dualism, IMO, but of a person changing.

Changing from what? or in what way?

Keith Larman
05-22-2009, 05:46 PM
As Ron already point out, the issue is more one of being engaged and going in with a critical mind. And the problem with the concept of Bushido is that if you do that you rapidly find out that what we "call" bushido today is a modern construct that would have been meaningless as a term back when Samurai were wandering about. They weren't following any such code -- it didn't exist. the whole concept is part of the "romanticizing" of the Samurai class. While I'm sure there were upstanding, noble, etc. fellas wandering about who were for all intents and purposes following what we would today call the tenets of bushido, many, many more were not. And frankly it depends also on when, where, etc. you're looking historically.

And that very code in part helped many justify some pretty terrible behavior in China and elsewhere. Or to go to other historical events, look at sword testing on peasants. It's good to be Samurai... Not so good if you're not...

So it is rather hard to take seriously someone saying they want to follow "bushido" when in fact it never really existed. Might as well be a jedi too while you't at it. That's not to say there aren't good things there, but... It still ain't what really happened...

But of course these things may speak to an individual. And may give them things to think about, questions to ask, etc. I honestly have no problem with it. Just trying to add to the conversation.

Shrug.

lbb
05-22-2009, 11:03 PM
Changing from what? or in what way?

I don't know, because I didn't inquire. I didn't ask if he flew an assault helicopter or a medevac; I didn't ask what he was like before. I didn't want to pry, and I didn't want to judge. When I found out that he was a Vietnam vet, I asked him what he did there. "Part of the time, I flew helicopters," he said.

"What did you do the rest of the time?" I asked.

"A lot of drinking," he said.

The implications were obvious. This wasn't fun drinking, it was drinking to cope with what he was seeing and/or doing the rest of the time. Clearly it was very troubling, but I don't know exactly why, or exactly what the "it" was, or what he'd been like before.

aikishrine
05-23-2009, 04:34 AM
As Ron already point out, the issue is more one of being engaged and going in with a critical mind. And the problem with the concept of Bushido is that if you do that you rapidly find out that what we "call" bushido today is a modern construct that would have been meaningless as a term back when Samurai were wandering about. They weren't following any such code -- it didn't exist. the whole concept is part of the "romanticizing" of the Samurai class. While I'm sure there were upstanding, noble, etc. fellas wandering about who were for all intents and purposes following what we would today call the tenets of bushido, many, many more were not. And frankly it depends also on when, where, etc. you're looking historically.

And that very code in part helped many justify some pretty terrible behavior in China and elsewhere. Or to go to other historical events, look at sword testing on peasants. It's good to be Samurai... Not so good if you're not...

So it is rather hard to take seriously someone saying they want to follow "bushido" when in fact it never really existed. Might as well be a jedi too while you't at it. That's not to say there aren't good things there, but... It still ain't what really happened...

But of course these things may speak to an individual. And may give them things to think about, questions to ask, etc. I honestly have no problem with it. Just trying to add to the conversation.

Shrug.

I never once said that i wanted to be a samurai, or that i thought that the way they lived was to be romantisized. All i was getting at is that i like the idea of bushido, or rather trying to adhere to a code of ethics. I am not using any particular person or era as an example. Apparently everyone here thinks that i am completely misguided. Maybe i am.

Josh Reyer
05-23-2009, 05:37 AM
I never once said that i wanted to be a samurai, or that i thought that the way they lived was to be romantisized. All i was getting at is that i like the idea of bushido, or rather trying to adhere to a code of ethics. I am not using any particular person or era as an example. Apparently everyone here thinks that i am completely misguided. Maybe i am.I don't think anyone thinks you are misguided for wanting to adhere to a code of ethics. I think everyone here aspires to do so. I think what people are really saying here is that you might not want to call that code "bushido" without being fully aware of all the history (and lack thereof) that that name implies.

In the days when samurai actually learned budo because their job was battle, there was no thing called "bushido", but there were plenty of ethical codes. The interesting thing is that they weren't called "bushido", because in a sense that name is very limited in scope. It doesn't mean "the way of the warrior" so much as the "way of the political class in power", as "bushi" was a hereditary occupation, rather than something anyone could aspire to. Rather, one common point I've found in many of the philosophies and ethics of the early schools was that they saw their ways as applicable to all people, not merely bushi. Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, for example, explicitly stated that its way was the same way from the common man to emperors. Katori Shinto-ryu and, I believe, Tatsumi-ryu made similar statements. Even Musashi, writing in a time when the four classes had become castes, explicitly states that the way of the warrior is not different from the way of any of the other three, and drives this point home by drawing parallels between the way of the warrior and the way of the carpenter.

In other words, why be stuck on this idea of "bushido", when the past masters themselves took pains to stress that their way was not anything unique to bushi? Most of us are not warriors in the sense of the word "bushi", nor are aikido practitioners practicing an art that the bushi practiced. Nor was the founder of aikido from a bushi lineage. The founders of budo took their ethics from Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shintoism. If we really want to learn from their example, and adhere to the codes they did, that's where we should look, not in the platitudes of Edo period bureaucrats, or the reconstructions of modern romantics.

DH
05-23-2009, 07:37 AM
Excellent examples...and post, Josh-as usual.
It should be telling that the arts that actually were directly involved with the bushi class and commoners alike, like TSKSR, KSR, Yagyu, Takeouchi Ryu ryu and so on seem disinterested in promulgating some sort of romanticized view, and instead choose to talk about practicalities.
Arts that for the most part had nothing to do with the bushi class are in all the movies, hold test cutting demo's and are taught at the local strip mall with samurai paraphernalia, Samurai codes of conduct, and are either shouting and jumping, or have severely formalized teaching and practicing in silence and reverence etc. The Koryu schools and teachers I know are more informal and remind me more of a good Judo school atmosphere than anything else. I enjoy the aikido teachers I know who don't seem to take themselves to seriously and just enjoy the training and friendships. As one senior aikido teacher commented to me about some of the more serious and formal schools- "They need to get over -themselves- before they are ever going to see the art. You'd think they were going to church or something. They're missing the joy, the point of it all."
I found that quite fascinating.
Dan
Cheers
Dan

DH
05-23-2009, 07:52 AM
Excellent examples...and post, Josh-as usual.
It should be telling that the arts that actually were directly involved with the bushi class and commoners alike, like TSKSR, KSR, Yagyu, Takeouchi Ryu ryu and so on seem disinterested in promulgating some sort of romanticized view, and instead choose to talk about practicalities.
Arts that for the most part had nothing to do with the bushi class are in all the movies, hold test cutting demo's and are taught at the local strip mall with samurai paraphernalia, Samurai codes of conduct, and are either shouting and jumping, or have severely formalized teaching and practicing in silence and reverence etc. The Koryu schools and teachers I know are more informal and remind me more of a good Judo school atmosphere than anything else. I enjoy the aikido teachers I know who don't seem to take themselves to seriously and just enjoy the training and friendships. As one senior aikido teacher commented to me about some of the more serious and formal schools- "They need to get over -themselves- before they are ever going to see the art. You'd think they were going to church or something. They're missing the joy, the point of it all." I found that quite fascinating.
Needless to say the people - I - enjoy the most in budo are those who enjoy the deadly practicality and precision, and don't take themselves to seriously to miss the joy in the practice of it all.
Cheers
Dan

Peter Goldsbury
05-23-2009, 08:21 AM
I never once said that i wanted to be a samurai, or that i thought that the way they lived was to be romantisized. All i was getting at is that i like the idea of bushido, or rather trying to adhere to a code of ethics. I am not using any particular person or era as an example. Apparently everyone here thinks that i am completely misguided. Maybe i am.

Hello Brian,

Some of these threads are all about language--and how it is used: with no judgment at all on the user. So, No, you are not misguided. Simply, the two questions with which you began this thread have assumptions that have to be made clearer.

Most of the posts in this thread have gradually added refinements to the two concepts you were talking about: bushido; and ethical codes, especially as related to the samurai.

I want to stress here that what you yourself mean by an ethical code, and what a samurai might have meant by an ethical code, might be quite different.

Here is a very concrete example.
In my opinion, one of the biggest problems that Japanese aikido shihan despatched overseas to teach aikido have had to deal with is sexual ethics. I mean here sexual relationships in the dojo: the general position of women in the dojo culture, or the more focused example of a happily married shihan regularly (but very quietly) bedding the female students in his dojo.

Bear in mind that one of the major tests that a prospective Japanese emperor has to pass is that of the ability to father children--and this is practically tested by means of a concubine.

So the samurai is almost always married (how happily married is always left unstated) and the role of his wife is to produce 'his' children, of whom at least one must be male. But for the rest of the time, since the quality of 'his' sexual urges determine the reproductive result, he has to train to keep his male sexual prowess in perfect condition, just as he trains to keep his martial prowess in the same condition.

Now, how would this issue affect the ethics of bushido? I can assure you that it does affect the ethics of aikido to the extent that I have had to question the present Doshu (as IAF Chairman) about the sexual ethics of one of this 8th dan shihans.

Best wishes,

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
05-23-2009, 08:51 AM
I mean here sexual relationships in the dojo: the general position of women in the dojo culture, or the more focused example of a happily married shihan regularly (but very quietly) bedding the female students in his dojo.


I could also have put it the other way round:
... a happily married shihan quietly (but very regularly) bedding the female students in his dojo.

PAG

Aikibu
05-23-2009, 12:04 PM
I could also have put it the other way round:
... a happily married shihan quietly (but very regularly) bedding the female students in his dojo.

PAG

With all due respect Peter...This is an interesting point but you can find this behaviour in one degree or another in any Patriarchal "Code of Ethics"

Most folks kind of pass over the fact that before we are Ethical, Religious, or Moral, we are Biological Beings...The Biological Urge of Male Homosapians to pass thier genes on through as many Females as possible predates "History" Along with the very same urge for Female Homosapians to select only those Males who are at the top of the Group Hiearchy...
Heck I live in Malibu and you can see this behaviour at work everyday among the elites...LOL

So I gave up complaining about Rock Stars, Movie Stars,Sports Stars, CEO's, Shihan's, and others "getting more" than thier "fair" share or violating an ethical code. From a Biological stand point I empathize with that so called "Human Frailty"

Hows does this relate to Bushido...Well if one looks at it carefully one can see that any ethical system can be distorted to serve this kind of "need" All Male Jihadist "Martyrs" are promised 72 virgins when they get to heaven. I wonder if they would by so ready to blow themselves up if they got them on earth...Then there's the news stories about the extreme sexual abuses of the Catholic Church in Ireland this week, and then there's Bushido...

Thousands of captured woman served as sex slaves for Japanese Soldiers during the war. In the eyes of the average military practicioner of Bushido These "slaves" were the just desserts of victory on the battlefield...

In light of these facts I am very careful not to idealize anyone (or any "code of ethics") but allow them thier humanity and to "forgive them lord... For they know not what they do." :) or as Shoji Nishio puts it... Aikido is Yurusu Budo... The Budo of Acceptance

From Stan Pranins review of Yurusu Budo on the AJ Website

"Yurusu Budo means "budo of acceptance." In this book, Nishio Sensei attempts to explain the changing meaning of budo, from purely contentious to benevolent and giving, as was the evolution of O'Sensei's design of Aikido."

I think I'll continue to "trip on this" for the next 20 years. :)



William Hazen

Peter Goldsbury
05-23-2009, 07:17 PM
With all due respect Peter...This is an interesting point but you can find this behaviour in one degree or another in any Patriarchal "Code of Ethics"

Hows does this relate to Bushido...Well if one looks at it carefully one can see that any ethical system can be distorted to serve this kind of "need" All Male Jihadist "Martyrs" are promised 72 virgins when they get to heaven. I wonder if they would by so ready to blow themselves up if they got them on earth...Then there's the news stories about the extreme sexual abuses of the Catholic Church in Ireland this week, and then there's Bushido...

William Hazen

I think you took my post in a different way than it was intended. What if you come from a culture where, "Thou Shall not Commit Adultery" is not part of the ethical code yo begin with? You then move to a culture where it is. Problems might well arise.

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
05-23-2009, 09:02 PM
EDIT: Correction of a typo:

What if you come from a culture where, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is not part of the ethical code to begin with?

PAG

Aikibu
05-25-2009, 04:42 PM
EDIT: Correction of a typo:

What if you come from a culture where, "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is not part of the ethical code to begin with?

PAG

I understand Peter....My point was made in the context of Bushido...I don't know one religion or ethical system that is not immune to distortion by some of it's adherents in order to justify a crime against humanity...Bushido may never be known for it's tolerance of adultery... but it may be forever associated for the horrible crimes committed in it's name...

In the very same context can you believe a former Senior elected offical of the United States of America is now touring the country trying to convince the world his authorization of the use of torture was justifed!?!?!!!

My Point being....To have Aikido associated in any way with Bushido is just as horrible and disgusting as having the Constitution of the United States of America and the Bill of Rights linked to the torture of human beings.

As far as I know Aikido has no such "stain" on it's history for now.

William Hazen

Carsten Möllering
05-25-2009, 05:21 PM
Hi
As far as I know Aikido has no such "stain" on it's history for now.
Hm.

Was Ueshiba chief of the Oomoto kyo Security?
Did they have prisons?
Did people "disapear"?
Have people been tortured?

Was Ueshiba connected to the right wing, ultra nationalist politicians?
What about the black dragon society?
Did they meet in his dojo?
What about the Mongolian/Mandchurian "adventure"?

Is Aikido only japanese?
Why can't a westerner become hachidan?

What about high graded teachers, injuring their studends on purpose and being renowned for that?

Are there realy no stains?

Carsten

aikishrine
05-25-2009, 05:27 PM
I understand Peter....My point was made in the context of Bushido...I don't know one religion or ethical system that is not immune to distortion by some of it's adherents in order to justify a crime against humanity...Bushido may never be known for it's tolerance of adultery... but it may be forever associated for the horrible crimes committed in it's name...

In the very same context can you believe a former Senior elected offical of the United States of America is now touring the country trying to convince the world his authorization of the use of torture was justifed!?!?!!!

My Point being....To have Aikido associated in any way with Bushido is just as horrible and disgusting as having the Constitution of the United States of America and the Bill of Rights linked to the torture of human beings.

As far as I know Aikido has no such "stain" on it's history for now.

William Hazen

I didnt mean for this to turn into a political post, and i truly hate war and violence. However sometimes combat is ugly, and whatever means it takes to keep America safe is justified in my opinion. Until the people we are dealing with have some concept of what it is like to be human, however they are treated is fine with me. Because they cant be reached with peace and love, unfortunately.

aikishrine
05-25-2009, 05:31 PM
I know may last post is very cold hearted, and doesnt reflect the Aikido philosophy, but at this point in time i know of no other way to feel.

Aikibu
05-25-2009, 06:05 PM
Hi

Hm.

Was Ueshiba chief of the Oomoto kyo Security?
Did they have prisons?
Did people "disapear"?
Have people been tortured?


I specifically mentioned O'Sensei possible "shame" of his past as a reason for the developemnt of his Post War Aikido Philosphy. Did you miss this?

Was Ueshiba connected to the right wing, ultra nationalist politicians?
What about the black dragon society?
Did they meet in his dojo?
What about the Mongolian/Mandchurian "adventure"?
See my above reply...Do you consider His Pre War Aiki-Jujitsu practice Aikido? There are some who would make a distinction between the two...

]Is Aikido only japanese?
Why can't a westerner become hachidan?

What about high graded teachers, injuring their studends on purpose and being renowned for that?

Are there realy no stains?

Carsten

I group all these questions together...It would appear you glossed over my posts and reacted Argumentum ad Absolutum.

If you can show where folks who have committed acts of war mass slaughter rape murder or torture AND have done so in the name of "Pre or Post-War" Aikido then by all means feel free to post the information here for my enlightenment...:)

As for the rest of your complaints some Like the Japanese Xenophobic protection of "thier" Martial Arts does still exist... However the Hachidan complaint does not apply just to Aikido does it....and indeed I can think of one outstanding Menkyo Kaiden of a Japanese Koryu who is Gaijin.. Toby Threadgill...Now it is true he may not reach Hachidan but with each new generation of Martial Artist that "barrier" my be breached in our lifetime...

And like me get this straight... Because some High Grade teachers act like Assholes all of them do??? And they act this way in the name of Aikido??? Where in Aikido's Philosophy does it allow for folks to act like assholes??? And how does this compare to Bushido exactly???

Don't get me worng Carsten...I have personal experiance with this complaint.. but not once did I think to "blame" Aikido when this Sensei tried to hurt me. And since I out weighed him by about 70 pounds it was simply a matter of "correction by physical suggestion" :)

Willaim Hazen

Aikibu
05-25-2009, 06:25 PM
I didnt mean for this to turn into a political post, and i truly hate war and violence. However sometimes combat is ugly, and whatever means it takes to keep America safe is justified in my opinion. Until the people we are dealing with have some concept of what it is like to be human, however they are treated is fine with me. Because they cant be reached with peace and love, unfortunately.

How can comparing or equating Aikido with Bushido NOT be political on some level?

As for for tacit acceptance of torture All I can suggest is that you "proof" your own opinion.

While in the Service I was a participant as a young private in a S.E.R.E ( Survival...Evasion...Resistance...Escape) MTT conducted by the SF S.E.R.E. School (It may have been a Joint Services Committee since All branches of the Service can go through S.E.R.E. it was a long time ago) They gave us a class on Communist Torture Techniques and one of those methods was Water Boarding...It was done to our Servicemen in Korea and Vietnam. The PRIMARY PURPOSE of Waterboarding was to ELICIT FALSE CONFESSIONS from U.S. Servicemen for Communist Propaganda...I was waterboarded 2 or 3 times for 30 seconds each...

We also got to experiance other "techniques" and believe you me...It's torture...All through these classes the Instructors emphasized that WE DO NOT TORTURE...

Sad to say...That is not true today.

William Hazen

Buck
05-25-2009, 06:29 PM
I didnt mean for this to turn into a political post, and i truly hate war and violence. However sometimes combat is ugly, and whatever means it takes to keep America safe is justified in my opinion. Until the people we are dealing with have some concept of what it is like to be human, however they are treated is fine with me. Because they cant be reached with peace and love, unfortunately.

The core of this is at the heart of something very important I think people have to understand about Aikido. Aikido's message of peace, if taken as a warm and fuzzy view, an ideal that I would love to live in if possible. An Aikido ideal if applied butts heads up against stronger reality that has no reason to obey. I think that is why there are some Aikido that are into the pre-war, and MMA (thought I feel Aikido has it all and you don't need to cross train or out sourse your training-that's IMO). They feel they need to adjust to that stronger reality of not everyone is going to play nice, or find the light of peace and surrender to the Aikidoka's superiority. I think this happens because it is hard to understand O'Sensei's philosophy, and there is one of his students who stated that clearly, ignoring O'Sensei's vision for the world.

If you're ever are in a bad situation where you must use your training and you throw the guy with a warm fuzzy feeling attitude, and not stay on guard and do what it takes to stop the attack, then you may not see the next day. Not everyone is pre- 1970's Japanese. We see today in so many parts of the world how violent people are and have become, and how far they are willing to go to get what they want.

The time O'Sensei developed his philosophy was an unique time in Japanese history and that really only applied to Japan, and not universally to the rest of the world, or in our times, where you deal with an attacker on drugs. I think , with all due respect to O'Sensei, it was pretty nieve of O'Sensei to think it could be and he could make a change- that is understandable considering Japan being a closed nation for so long, and what he went through in his life.

I have to agree with Brian, there are people which can't be reached with peace. I add these people are not going to respond to peace either- sadly.

Peter Goldsbury
05-25-2009, 06:32 PM
Hello, Brian,

As I mentioned in an earlier post (#53), if you raise questions concerning the 'philosophy of bushido' and the 'philosophy of aikido', it is pretty well guaranteed that some posters will interpret at least the first of these questions as 'political'. Why? Because if you dig a little more deeply into the 'philosophy' of bushido, you will see the distortions, rather like the romantic view of medieval European troubadours and knights errrant. One could argue that the 'philosophy' such as it was, was also a device for maintaining a ruthless military regime, based entirely on power / force, and which used just as much 'double-speak' as present-day North Korea does.

One can also argue, as others have done, that Nitobe's view of bushido is FUNDAMENTALLY false and misguided, since it is based on an ethical system that the Japanese did not have. This was the point of my earlier post to William. It is not a matter of the moral 'gap' between an ethical system and the corruptibility of those who subscribe to it: because they do not act in accordance with the ethical principles they are supposed to: it is a matter of the basic ingredients of the ethical system to begin with. 'Western' ethics is very heavily based on biblical notions of sin and guilt--of individuals acting or not acting in accordance with ethical principles they embrace--and one cannot assume that a system based on pollution and shame is necessarily similar.

I didnt mean for this to turn into a political post, and i truly hate war and violence. However sometimes combat is ugly, and whatever means it takes to keep America safe is justified in my opinion. Until the people we are dealing with have some concept of what it is like to be human, however they are treated is fine with me. Because they cant be reached with peace and love, unfortunately.

Best wishes,

PAG

Aikibu
05-25-2009, 06:50 PM
Hello, Brian,

One can also argue, as others have done, that Nitobe's view of bushido is FUNDAMENTALLY false and misguided, since it is based on an ethical system that the Japanese did not have. This was the point of my earlier post to William. It is not a matter of the moral 'gap' between an ethical system and the corruptibility of those who subscribe to it: because they do not act in accordance with the ethical principles they are supposed to: it is a matter of the basic ingredients of the ethical system to begin with. 'Western' ethics is very heavily based on biblical notions of sin and guilt--of individuals acting or not acting in accordance with ethical principles they embrace--and one cannot assume that a system based on pollution and shame is necessarily similar.

Best wishes,

PAG

I glossed over this excellent point the first time Peter, Thanks for repeating it. :) I completely agree with your premise.

William Hazen

Buck
05-25-2009, 07:08 PM
Hello, Brian,

One can also argue, as others have done, that Nitobe's view of bushido is FUNDAMENTALLY false and misguided, since it is based on an ethical system that the Japanese did not have. This was the point of my earlier post to William. It is not a matter of the moral 'gap' between an ethical system and the corruptibility of those who subscribe to it: because they do not act in accordance with the ethical principles they are supposed to: it is a matter of the basic ingredients of the ethical system to begin with. 'Western' ethics is very heavily based on biblical notions of sin and guilt--of individuals acting or not acting in accordance with ethical principles they embrace--and one cannot assume that a system based on pollution and shame is necessarily similar.

Best wishes,

PAG

FWIW, because this really is a burr under my horse's saddle blacket. The comment I would like to make on Nitobe's view of bushido being “FUNDAMENTALLY false and misguided” isn’t a new view. It has been a view for now what 20 years which was born out of the internet. It is an internet vogue thingy started by those who are non-Japanese directed to those who are not Japanese. I am not saying this is what bushido is or isn't. I don't know.

What I am saying the modern Japanese didn't go around and make an effort to debunk it. I think they too used it as a model for something they really consciously didn't understand. In my copy of Nitobe's book it said in the preface that Nitobe was arguing morality and ethics between Japan and Europe. And somewhere down the line that was totally missed on a lot of people thinking he was defining bushido rather using an abstract instrument in contrast to European chivalry codes of morals and ethics to relate Japanese ethics and morals in his argument. I think you need to look at Nitobe's book in this way, and not as a guide to bushido as other much older books on bushido that the Japanese took seriously.

IMO, Nitobe's book taken as I discribed it to be should not be argued if it is or isn't a defining model of bushido. If someone wants a model I can suggest what I do. You look at the Japanese solider of today to be the closed thing. Why because bushido was practiced and subscribed to by soilders, not martial artists, not ryu's etc. but the solider back than who put a weapon in his hand and marched upon that field following orders to fight, and expecting not to live to see the next day. Don't look at martial artists, because what we are, are artists after all. FWIW.

lbb
05-25-2009, 08:03 PM
However sometimes combat is ugly, and whatever means it takes to keep America safe is justified in my opinion.
We've heard rather a lot of this in the past eight years, and IMO not enough of the following two questions:
1. On what basis do you assert that your "whatever" methods are, in fact, what it takes (and, implicitly, that no other methods will suffice)?
2. On what basis do you assert that your "whatever" methods produce a result that "keep[s] America safe"?

Answer these first; otherwise you're just begging the question.

aikishrine
05-26-2009, 04:10 AM
As i said before, i do not like war or violence. That being said it is sometimes a necessary evil. We are animals after all and animals do fight. It is in our nature, therefore i dont believe that "peace" is a truly attainable thing. However its the pursuit of peace that helps me out. Its the journey not the destination. So maybe as an Aikidoka i or we can become mirrors, and in that way peace may be attainable on some small level.

Its like i always tell green peace people that come knocking on my door to protest big business and such. Clean up your own backyard first, because after all, big business doesnt pollute the earth nearly as much as all individual people do combined. Its the same with war and violence, there is more violence on the streets of this world than our governments create it war. So we should become mirrors of that in which we want. Lead by example not by words. If we want peace, than let peace begin with me. Sorry for my ramblings.

aikishrine
05-26-2009, 08:34 AM
Let me just say that i believe in Aikido and its philosophies whole heartedly, i also believe in the romantic notions of Bushido. I have read Nitobe's book and i find it quite good. Now there may be some falsehoods there, as with all types of ethos. But i believe that there are some simple truths to be cognizant of as well. I am greatly sorry that i have offended some people here, and as such this will be my last post.

Best Wishes to all, Brian

Ron Tisdale
05-26-2009, 11:33 AM
Hi Phil, first I must say that I see much more effort going into making your posts understandable. Thank you for that. It is also evident that you are reading quite a bit. That is always a good thing.

FWIW, because this really is a burr under my horse's saddle blacket. The comment I would like to make on Nitobe's view of bushido being “FUNDAMENTALLY false and misguided” isn’t a new view. It has been a view for now what 20 years which was born out of the internet. It is an internet vogue thingy started by those who are non-Japanese directed to those who are not Japanese.

I am afraid that this is just not true. There are works in Japanese that discuss this book, and that come to much the same conclusions, and well before the internet came into "vogue", or for that matter, even existed.

What I am saying the modern Japanese didn't go around and make an effort to debunk it.

I'll post a link to a thread below which will list some possible sources to check out that should show this to be false.

I think they too used it as a model for something they really consciously didn't understand. In my copy of Nitobe's book it said in the preface that Nitobe was arguing morality and ethics between Japan and Europe. And somewhere down the line that was totally missed on a lot of people thinking he was defining bushido rather using an abstract instrument in contrast to European chivalry codes of morals and ethics to relate Japanese ethics and morals in his argument. I think you need to look at Nitobe's book in this way, and not as a guide to bushido as other much older books on bushido that the Japanese took seriously.

I think this is probably a valid way to read that book, and in any case, opinions on the same book differ often enough where to me, it's not worth debating.

IMO, Nitobe's book taken as I discribed it to be should not be argued if it is or isn't a defining model of bushido. If someone wants a model I can suggest what I do. You look at the Japanese solider of today to be the closed thing. Why because bushido was practiced and subscribed to by soilders, not martial artists, not ryu's etc. but the solider back than who put a weapon in his hand and marched upon that field following orders to fight, and expecting not to live to see the next day. Don't look at martial artists, because what we are, are artists after all. FWIW.

I think there are several issues with this last statement, but those are addressed on other posts, so I'll leave to the gentle reader to decide.

Best,
Ron (the thread I was speaking of can be found here: http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=42260&highlight=nitobe)

PS, it should also be noted that this book was orinally written in English, and later translated into Japanese...

Rennis Buchner
05-26-2009, 07:19 PM
The comment I would like to make on Nitobe's view of bushido being “FUNDAMENTALLY false and misguided” isn’t a new view. It has been a view for now what 20 years which was born out of the internet. It is an internet vogue thingy started by those who are non-Japanese directed to those who are not Japanese.

Hardly. I know plenty of Japanese who happen to agree with the "fundamentally flawed" point of view. Also personally, I was introduced to this view in university, by professional academics in Japan and not on the internet. Interestingly most of the articles in English written by Westerners I have seen discussing the issue online were also written by academics with formal training and extensive work performed in Japanese universities. It has been my experience that these people are generally writing based on findings and research current among Japanese researchers. As with all things you will find some Japanese who embrace Nitobe's writings and others who reject them, often for the reasons discussed.

Random thoughs,
Rennis Buchner

Buck
05-26-2009, 11:34 PM
Hardly. I know plenty of Japanese who happen to agree with the "fundamentally flawed" point of view. Also personally, I was introduced to this view in university, by professional academics in Japan and not on the internet. Interestingly most of the articles in English written by Westerners I have seen discussing the issue online were also written by academics with formal training and extensive work performed in Japanese universities. It has been my experience that these people are generally writing based on findings and research current among Japanese researchers. As with all things you will find some Japanese who embrace Nitobe's writings and others who reject them, often for the reasons discussed.

Random thoughs,
Rennis Buchner

Let me correct any assumptions. I didn't say all Japanese nor did I imply that. It boggles my mind when things like that happen, ya know the assumptions. I didn't apply you in any way, or connected you to the internet. I was speaking to the power of the western internet and how it does incorrectly admonishes those who have naive views of Nitobe. Those on the western internet who are quick in ego to admonish the lesser learned westerner, they fail to point out the argument constructed by Nitobe was as I previously explained, to communicate to mmm...western intellects. But rather the western internet researchers attack Nitobe for his "flawed" sense of what budo is and isn't. Which I find very odd, since Nitobe was Japanese and not a western researcher and wasn't writing to definitely and definitively define budo.

I studied Nitobe in a university in the USA, keep in mind he was well versed in western thinking, and culture. So, I studied him from a western view, along with other western thinkers, not concerning budo, but rather his argument. Which again is totally missed on the western internet that is so bound and determined to show how fundamentally wrong he was about what is and isn't Japanese budo.:eek:

Peter Goldsbury
05-27-2009, 03:48 AM
Let me correct any assumptions. I didn't say all Japanese nor did I imply that. It boggles my mind when things like that happen, ya know the assumptions. I didn't apply you in any way, or connected you to the internet. I was speaking to the power of the western internet and how it does incorrectly admonishes those who have naive views of Nitobe. Those on the western internet who are quick in ego to admonish the lesser learned westerner, they fail to point out the argument constructed by Nitobe was as I previously explained, to communicate to mmm...western intellects. But rather the western internet researchers attack Nitobe for his "flawed" sense of what budo is and isn't. Which I find very odd, since Nitobe was Japanese and not a western researcher and wasn't writing to definitely and definitively define budo.

I studied Nitobe in a university in the USA, keep in mind he was well versed in western thinking, and culture. So, I studied him from a western view, along with other western thinkers, not concerning budo, but rather his argument. Which again is totally missed on the western internet that is so bound and determined to show how fundamentally wrong he was about what is and isn't Japanese budo.:eek:

At your university, did you also study the phenomenon known as Nihonjinron 日本人論? Nitobe is part of this phenomenon, as are Lafcadio Hearn, Ruth Benedict and, to a lesser extent, Eugen Herrigel. The focus of this phenomenon is the supposed uniqueness of Japanese culture. Examples of nihonjinron are, for example, that Japanese literature is impossible to translate into other languages because of kotodama: the Japanese spirit which is believed by Japanese to exist in the Japanese language, or that Japanese are uniquely emotional because they are believed to process certain vowel sounds on the opposite side of their brains to those of 'westerners' (= all non-Japanese).

After Nitobe's book was written to communicate to western intellects, it was translated into Japanese. Subsequently, it was taken up and given a special place, along with the Hagakure, as a 'correct' view of Bushido. Benedict was also translated into Japanese and her view of Japan as a 'shame' culture also also taken up and enshrined by the postwar Japanese, as a 'correct' view of Japanese culture.

You state that you have studied Nitobe in English at university in the USA. I have taught Nitobe in Japanese at university in Japan and much of my time was spent in showing the fundamental flaws in his picture of bushido, to Japanese bureaucrats who still believed that it was an attractive picture and therefore 'probably' accurate. (They had been taught this by their Japanese teachers, who, almost certainly, were believers in nihonjinron.)

Of course, if you believe Nitobe's view of bushido is not fundamentally flawed (despite being directed at western intellects), then please argue your point. I am sure some would be happy to respond.

Yours sincerely,

Ron Tisdale
05-27-2009, 07:39 AM
Hi Phil,

Let me correct any assumptions. I didn't say all Japanese nor did I imply that. It boggles my mind when things like that happen, ya know the assumptions.

Ok, let's review:

FWIW, because this really is a burr under my horse's saddle blacket. The comment I would like to make on Nitobe's view of bushido being “FUNDAMENTALLY false and misguided” isn’t a new view. It has been a view for now what 20 years which was born out of the internet. It is an internet vogue thingy started by those who are non-Japanese directed to those who are not Japanese.

You now have two people in Japan, both associated with Japanese scholarship, who interpretted your words the same as I did. And both of whom have pointed out your error. This is not an assumption...your words are on the page.

What I am saying the modern Japanese didn't go around and make an effort to debunk it.

You don't say "some modern Japanese", you say **the modern Japanese**. If you meant some, or most, or many, you could have said that. It is not an assumption to read the words typed on the page. If you mean something different, just type something different. If you studied at university, you should know this, and being corrected on it should not be an affront...

I was speaking to the power of the western internet and how it does incorrectly admonishes those who have naive views of Nitobe. Those on the western internet who are quick in ego to admonish the lesser learned westerner, they fail to point out the argument constructed by Nitobe was as I previously explained, to communicate to mmm...western intellects.

First, that is a rather tortuous construct of a sentence (I'm sure your university proffesors would certainly take you to task for it). But putting that aside, there really is no ego involved in this from my side, and I would think, not from anyone else's side either. At least not those engaged in conversation with you.

As far as I am concerned, no one here is lesser or greater. Some have better writing skills, some make better arguements. But no person is lesser because of that. It is just simply a fact. I cannot write or think or argue as well as Peter, or Mike or Josh. That does not cause me any undue concern...it has been years since I studied at the undergraduate or graduate level, and I wasn't all that hot then either. :D It is simply a fact...just as they probably couldn't install 5 routers in one day at 5 different locations...remotely. That certainly doesn't diminish them or their achievements in academia in any way, does it?

Best,
Ron

Buck
05-27-2009, 07:51 AM
At your university, did you also study the phenomenon known as Nihonjinron 日本人論? Nitobe is part of this phenomenon, as are Lafcadio Hearn, Ruth Benedict and, to a lesser extent, Eugen Herrigel. The focus of this phenomenon is the supposed uniqueness of Japanese culture. Examples of nihonjinron are, for example, that Japanese literature is impossible to translate into other languages because of kotodama: the Japanese spirit which is believed by Japanese to exist in the Japanese language, or that Japanese are uniquely emotional because they are believed to process certain vowel sounds on the opposite side of their brains to those of 'westerners' (= all non-Japanese).

After Nitobe's book was written to communicate to western intellects, it was translated into Japanese. Subsequently, it was taken up and given a special place, along with the Hagakure, as a 'correct' view of Bushido. Benedict was also translated into Japanese and her view of Japan as a 'shame' culture also also taken up and enshrined by the postwar Japanese, as a 'correct' view of Japanese culture.

You state that you have studied Nitobe in English at university in the USA. I have taught Nitobe in Japanese at university in Japan and much of my time was spent in showing the fundamental flaws in his picture of bushido, to Japanese bureaucrats who still believed that it was an attractive picture and therefore 'probably' accurate. (They had been taught this by their Japanese teachers, who, almost certainly, were believers in nihonjinron.)

Of course, if you believe Nitobe's view of bushido is not fundamentally flawed (despite being directed at western intellects), then please argue your point. I am sure some would be happy to respond.

Yours sincerely,

What I am commenting on when Nitobe is discussed on the internet like he is now, he is discredited in such a way as I described that it over-looks what Nitobe was arguing. The internet also makes the assumption that he was defining bushido definitely. And fails to focus on or includes what he was really discussing. And that was morality and ethics between two cultures that knew very little about each other. Budo (which Nitobe had experience in) was his model in his argument that had parallels to ancient European knighthood and its military chivalry.

What I studied was what and how Nitobe argued mechanically against other western arguments concerning morals and ethics of other thought and cultures. I don't see his book as guide for bushido as other older Japanese military books describe.

I think there is a fatal flaw, but not in Nitobe's writings rather in how people think he was defining budo, and those who argue that. And as a result, the whole point of his book is missed, something that never gets properly argued, to communicate the misconceptions (at that time and written in the acceptable western vogue) about the Japanese.

And finally, if a person is going to mistake Nitobe's book for a guide to budo, I don't think is so wrong. The morality and ethics presented in the book are good, and universal. He doesn't speak of coldly killing a sleeping stranger for snoring out of annoyance. Or declares an eye for an eye.

Peter Goldsbury
05-27-2009, 09:29 AM
What I am commenting on when Nitobe is discussed on the internet like he is now, he is discredited in such a way as I described that it over-looks what Nitobe was arguing. The internet also makes the assumption that he was defining bushido definitely. And fails to focus on or includes what he was really discussing. And that was morality and ethics between two cultures that knew very little about each other. Budo (which Nitobe had experience in) was his model in his argument that had parallels to ancient European knighthood and its military chivalry.
Well, I think you would need to go into details here. I have just looked through the archives of E-Budo and there is much good stuff by scholars like Karl Friday and G Cameron Hurst III. As for Nitobe defining Bushido, the subtitle of the book is The Soul of Japan and this is how the Japanese understood the term. Whether it was a strict definition is immaterial.

What I studied was what and how Nitobe argued mechanically against other western arguments concerning morals and ethics of other thought and cultures. I don't see his book as guide for bushido as other older Japanese military books describe.
Well, in the introduction, Nitobe appears to be responding to the question of M. de la Laveleye: "No religion! How to you impart moral education?" His response is in the second paragraph of p.xii of the (Tuttle) edition that I possess: "I found that without understanding feudalism and Bushido, the moral ideas of present Japan are a sealed volume." Thus, one might reasonably conclude that the purpose is to give an explanation of moral education--in terms of bushido. This is borne out by the list of contents. Chapters III to XI deal in turn with the supposed Bushido virtues: Rectitude; courage; benevolence; politeness; veracity/sincerity; honor; the duty of loyalty. If Nitobe was not defining bushido, what was he doing? Giving his own views about the concept?

I think there is a fatal flaw, but not in Nitobe's writings rather in how people think he was defining budo, and those who argue that. And as a result, the whole point of his book is missed, something that never gets properly argued, to communicate the misconceptions (at that time and written in the acceptable western vogue) about the Japanese.
Well, we would have to go through the book chapter by chapter to argue this. The fact that Nitobe is using a 'fundamentally flawed' conception of bushido to communicate western misconceptions about the Japanese does not alter the fact that the conception is fundamentally flawed. If you do not think there is a flaw about bushido in Nitobe's writings, you need to argue this point, with evidence.

And finally, if a person is going to mistake Nitobe's book for a guide to budo, I don't think is so wrong. The morality and ethics presented in the book are good, and universal. He doesn't speak of coldly killing a sleeping stranger for snoring out of annoyance. Or declares an eye for an eye.
Well, he wouldn't, would he? He was a Christian: "I believe in the religion taught by Him and handed down to us in the New Testament, as well as in the law written in the heart." (Preface, p. xiv.) The morality and ethics presented in the book might well be good and universal, but it is much more questionable whether they were the morality and ethics of a code that really existed and was actually followed by samurai who believed in something called Bushido.

As always, best wishes,

PAG

aikishrine
05-27-2009, 10:35 AM
I think that you are all missing what the original intent of my post was. Does Aikido and Bushido have anything in commom? And i believe they do. If you look at Bushido as an internal seeking for peace, and calmness of spirit in the face of any type of situation that appears before you then it most definitely jives real well with Aikido. However this is my interpretation of the two. Unfortunately i dont seem to be as well educated as a couple of the other posters on this thread, so i guess my laymans approach to this may be flawed. It is however my belief.

Ron Tisdale
05-27-2009, 11:15 AM
Hi Brian, I think if that is how you as a laymen define Bushido, and you understand that other's have no need to accept that definition, then all is fine.

Some of us just like to be more rigorous...but that is not a slight on your choice, just our preference. You will find that often a thread takes on a life of its own, while still at least partially addressing the Original Poster (OP).

Best,
Ron

Ketsan
05-27-2009, 01:48 PM
How closely do you find the philosophies of Aikido and Bushido compare?

Or do you find that they are in no way similar?

Depends on what you mean by Bushido. Personally I ignore anything from the edo period onwards because it seems a bit too idealised and a bit too "gangsta." It's very insecure, like a bunch of people desperate to prove themselves by killing anyone who looks at them the wrong way.

The attitude I find in pre-edo period stuff, to me, is the real deal. It's much more sensible and pragmatic, much more about living as best you can in what's likely to be a short and bloody life. It's things like you have a one in three chance of surviving a real fight or that you can have the best training available, but you're still going to get killed. The focus seems to be on living your short life as best as you can.
And that's the kind of attitude I find in Aikido, especially when weapons work is taught. I also find that, on the whole, Aikido dojo aren't so up tight and formal as some other arts. I can imagine that back in the day that training wasn't overly formal, you were bushi you trained, you were respectful but there was no big deal to it, training was what you did because of who you were.
These days I think a lot of arts have this Hagakure-like insecurity where how badass they are is measured by how up tight, aggresive and formal they can be.

Don_Modesto
05-27-2009, 05:05 PM
I think that you are all missing what the original intent of my post was. Does Aikido and Bushido have anything in commom?

You defined neither, and much of the thread has been taken up doing so and critiquing those efforts.

In essence, you haven't really asked a question, despite the presence of words and grammar.

The bushi was a thousand year institution spread across an archipelago, some parts of which couldn't even understand each other's language.

You want to encompass this diversity with one word?!

Don_Modesto
05-27-2009, 05:20 PM
Hagakure-like insecurity Yup. Well said. Kinda like career noncombatants declaring, "Bring it on!" (to the children of mothers not their own...)

Buck
05-27-2009, 10:07 PM
Whether it was a strict definition is immaterial.
If Nitobe was not defining bushido, what was he doing? Giving his own views about the concept?
The morality and ethics presented in the book might well be good and universal, but it is much more questionable whether they were the morality and ethics of a code that really existed and was actually followed by samurai who believed in something called Bushido.

From what I have read Budo isn't a constant and seem to change thus, I agree with what Don said. You can't pin it down. Cause what it meant to one clan was different to another and it varied at different times in Japanese history. I think Hagakure shows that. Base on that Nitobe's view can't be flawed if defining budo was his target. His target I get from the good was to show Victorian's Japan had a soul. They had chivalry and honor, etc just like knights.

I have to disagree, here is why, based on why he felt compelled to write it, and thus the context I feel of the title. Nitobe was a western learned man, a researcher, a scholar of both cultures in his day. He researched budo, he practiced budo arts. He ran into those whose lived, breathed and defined budo of that time. He, in my view, was defending Japan- not budo, showing the Victorians that Japan had morals and ethics similar to theirs, and stuff. And that is what is not posted, like as you did initially.

I really don't think Nitobe was writing a new Hagakure or a 5 rings, I mean budo during that time was the tail of the comet, right. It's kind of like the Chaplin was saying the last prayers over the remains of what was left of budo. Nitobe knew that. He wasn't on a bent to resurrect budo, instead he was communicating or educating to Victorian snobs who knew nothing about Japan, using budo code palatable to those snobs by making a parallel to knights. That is clear in his book. Yamamoto, unlike Nitobe dictates the way of the samurai in detail with definite purpose intent, as a primer. I see Nitobe writing about morals and ethics (using the idea of bushido as a model based on bushido for to argue, and it was not intended to educate them solely on how to be a samurai or how to live like a samurai. Nitobe wrote in the same stylize language of the time.

I think that is the main flaw that many make on the net concerning Nitobe, imo. You just can't say Nitobe's views are flawed on budo. What is that compared to? The Hagakure, or other ancient texts written by scholars, or those like Mushashi, etc? Budo, now a days, is found in the Japanese military, and isn't what it was during Japan's feudal period or at budo's inception, or any other period in history.

You want a fundamentally flawed view of budo, look to the Japanese organized crime mob. Now they have a flawed view of budo.


:)

Buck
05-27-2009, 10:09 PM
Brian,

You question as straight forward as it is, doesn't elicit an equal straight forward answer. And Don's response illustrates that too. I think Peter in this responses including the one here does answer your question. It may not be a cookie cutter answer, but rather a more complex intricate that requires some background and context information as an answer. You would have to agree with him over me of course that Nitobe view of bushido is flawed.

Nitobe has been criticized for Romanizing budo. If you agree- I don't, rather he writes in the vogue of the day that comes off as Romanizing the subject vs. writing in a romantic style of the day- then O'Sensei Romanized Aikido and so did every other peer of other martial arts of O'Sensei's time, Romanize budo, and they can be seen as have the same flaw as Nitobe. Keep in mind Aikido wasn't something out of O'Sensei's imagination. Aikido came from other legitimate sources. O'Sensei is quoted saying that his teacher taught him budo. He learned budo from his teacher who was a sword carrying member of a samurai clan and upbringing. O'Sensei was a solider as well, who followed bushido of his day. Yes, is a simple unjust answer of mine is you can't separate budo from Aikido. Just as you can't separate an element from something and expect it maintain its completeness, existence, or whole. For lack of a better example, it would be like taking Christ out of Christianity.

Now if you took budo out of Aikido you would have something like, Ikebana, or nothing at all. I am mean, look at O'Sensei he strongly believe budo was a part of Aikido, and he defined it and how Aikido and budo are as one thingy, in the book he wrote, titled, Budo Training in Aikido.

Personally, I would go with what Peter does or would say over what I said if you are looking for an answer. He has been at Aikido longer and has had better Aikido opportunities and experiences then I. I am on in the bleachers writing it all down, in that sort of way. But, outside of that feel free to weigh my opinion on Nitobe's credibility, and the internet conspiracy against Nitobe. :D

Peter Goldsbury
05-28-2009, 02:25 AM
You want a fundamentally flawed view of budo, look to the Japanese organized crime mob. Now they have a flawed view of budo.

I want to be clear about one point. You regard budo and bushido as being synonymous. Is that right?

PAG

Ron Tisdale
05-28-2009, 07:55 AM
But, outside of that feel free to weigh my opinion on Nitobe's credibility, and the internet conspiracy against Nitobe.

I can understand the smiley...that statement is quite amusing...
:eek:

Best,
Ron

aikishrine
05-28-2009, 07:56 AM
I greatly appreciate all answers to my question, i have found them to be very enlightening. And as such they are helping me in my quest to have a better understanding of my own thoughts. Thank you all.

Brian

Buck
05-28-2009, 09:34 PM
I can understand the smiley...that statement is quite amusing...
:eek:

Best,
Ron

Uff Da! It's close enough, you finally got my sense of humor.

Buck
05-28-2009, 11:32 PM
I want to be clear about one point. You regard budo and bushido as being synonymous. Is that right?

PAG

It's in error, a typo, and should read as the following. "You want a fundamentally flawed view of bu[shido], look to the Japanese organized crime mob. Now they have a flawed view of bu[shido]." It is said in light elbow ribbing humor, it is not a statement the should to be argued, but rather a statement this is to be enjoyed like a fine wine. Thanks for pointing it out.

Buck
05-28-2009, 11:48 PM
Let me leave you the following from the last chapter of Nitobe's book, published by Ohara Publications Inc. as something to look over.

Of course, the preface by Nitobe recalls his Belgian jurist friend astonished (as a sense of being incredulous) and completely incomprehensive that the Japanese have no religion (in the western sense), means lacking moral instruction/education. Like how ghastly.

Also in his preface Nitobe states, "All through the work, I have tried to illustrate the points I have made with similar examples from European history and literature, I hope this will make the subject more relative for the comprehension of the Western reader." Keep in mind he is writing to an 1899 educated moral Western audience. That is the people he is making his views on paper more relative and comprehensive to.

This passage is from the last chapter, "The Future of Bushido" and he is concerned about the future of Bushido. It reads to like aw...like...where are we going to put Grandpa kind of thingy. That is also a major concern for him. Cause Japan doesn't have a religion to keep Bushido like the church in the West did for European Chivalry when European feudalism ended.

"Christianity and Materialism (including Utilitarianism) - or will the future reduce them to still more archaic forms of Hebraism and Hellenism? - will divide the world between them. Lesser systems of morals will ally themselves to either side for their preservation. On which side will Bushido enlist? Having no set dogma or formula to defend, it can afford to disappear as an entity: like the cherry blossom, it is wiling to die at the first gust of the morning breeze. But a total extinction will never be its lot. Who can say that stoicism is dead ? It is dead as a system: but it is alive as a virtue: its energy and vitality are still felt through many channels of life -in the philosophy of Western nations, in the jurisprudence of all the civilized world.

Bushido as an independent code of ethics may vanish, but its power will not perish from the earth; its schools of martial prowess or civic honor may be demolished, but its fight and its glory will long survive their ruins."

I think any flaw is in thinking in anyway that Nitobe's book is a primer for Bushido. What I also see in Nitobe's philosophy and view on Bushido is similar to O'Sensei's in many ways. I often wondered is that because such views where the common views during post Japanese feudalism. Or was O'Sensei influenced some how by Nitobe. I don't know if the latter is possible. But it seems there is a commonality between the two men in their thinking along the same lines.

Something to consider when there is comment made about Nitobe being flawed in his understanding of Bushido. I would definately not mistake Nitobe for anything thing else than being, well I will quote him, "The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such ideas and customs prevail in Japan. He is talking about what formed his moral notions which he credited it to Bushido. He was born during the feudal period of Japan. :)

Buck
05-29-2009, 12:17 AM
The other thing we have to understand is that Nitobe's wrote (like I alluded to earlier several times) in Victorian rhetoric. And in the earlier post I mentioned he was writing to a Victorian audience. I see no flaw in Nitobe's views. What I see by many is that possibly a misunderstanding of Nitobe's writing style, his audience and the time period. I think from reading Nitobe and the study I did on him he is more concern with the reader getting a feel giving it a tangible experience of Bushido for the reader vs. his book reading like a dictionary, or encyclopedia on bushido. He wants his work to be experienced as living and breathing experience.

He was a hell-of-a-scholar and researcher, and according to my copy's Editor worked very hard at a "monumental research task" getting original western material sources, and translated himself the material he chose from Japanese material.

Again when he was writing- about Bushido being the source of his moral code- for his victorian audience.

I think so much is overlooked and misunderstood concerning Nitobe's message in his writing.

Josh Reyer
05-29-2009, 01:44 AM
Again when he was writing- about Bushido being the source of his moral code- for his victorian audience.
Here's the fundamental flaw in Nitobe's work. When asked how the Japanese taught morals without having a religion, rather than thinking back to his bushi father, writing about that, and presenting it as "the soul of Japan", he should have written a book on Neo-Confucianism.

Peter Goldsbury
05-29-2009, 07:42 AM
Hello Phil,

A few more points and questions.

I think any flaw is in thinking in anyway that Nitobe's book is a primer for Bushido.
Why do you assume that Internet attackers of Nitobe see him as writing a 'primer for bushido'? He wrote a book called "Bushido: The Soul of Japan", which was taken by the Japanese themselves as a 'primer for bushido', along with the Hagakure. I want to be clear about this, for your statement entails that the Japanese were/are also as mistaken about Nitobe as his 'western' Internet detractors. To me, it is completely immaterial whether or not Nitobe was writing a 'primer for bushido'. What he wrote was accepted by many Japanese as a 'primer for bushido'.

What I also see in Nitobe's philosophy and view on Bushido is similar to O'Sensei's in many ways.
Of course, I suppose that you have evidence for this. Are there any of O Sensei's writings that you can point to?

I often wondered is that because such views where the common views during post Japanese feudalism.
With respect, what are the 'common views' in question here? Would you like to summarize O Sensei's specific views on bushido (NB, not budo), on the basis of his discourses?

Or was O'Sensei influenced some how by Nitobe. I don't know if the latter is possible.
Do you have any evidence?

But it seems there is a commonality between the two men in their thinking along the same lines.
You have mentioned this seeming commonality, but what is the commonality? What are the 'same lines' of their thinking? Please spell this out.

Something to consider when there is comment made about Nitobe being flawed in his understanding of Bushido. I would definately not mistake Nitobe for anything thing else than being, well I will quote him, "The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such ideas and customs prevail in Japan. He is talking about what formed his moral notions which he credited it to Bushido. He was born during the feudal period of Japan. :)
Wait a minute. You begin the quote at, "The direct inception...," but you do not end it.
Secondly, there is no relationship between your quotation and 'his moral notions'. Perhaps you should have given the entire section:
"In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and my wife (who asked "the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan"), I found that, without understanding feudalism and Bushido (with a footnote on pronunciation), the moral ideas of present Japan are a closed volume."
"Taking advantage of a long illness, I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversations. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when feudalism was still in force." (Preface, p. xii).

So where is the actual evidence about the 'formation of his moral notions'? Actually, Nitobe was born in 1862, which would make him just SIX years old when the 'feudal period' officially ended.

Many apologies for sounding like a professor in a tutorial, but if you are going to quote Nitobe himself in defence of your argument, you should be fair to Nitobe as well as yourself.

As always, best wishes,

PAG

Ron Tisdale
05-29-2009, 08:27 AM
I think any flaw is in thinking in anyway that Nitobe's book is a primer for Bushido.

But I think this is where *you* are making the assumption of what the people posting here and in other theads are saying. One of the primary things people are saying is that his tome is definately NOT a primer in Bushido. And they are advising readers of the context and complexities with the term, and how his work glosses over those for the sake of "clarity" to his western audience. In fact, your posts above point that out very clearly.

And that is why when students of Gendai Budo come online and post romantically about Bushido based on their reading of Nitobe, others are quick to point out the lack of context and complexity inherent within that frame work.

What I also see in Nitobe's philosophy and view on Bushido is similar to O'Sensei's in many ways.

Well, already we have issues with that statement, since Ueshiba ususally spoke of Budo, not Bushido, and as Peter has already pointed out, the two are not synonymous. So already we have a divergence of terms, let alone the difference in how those terms are defined. I know you have claimed that was an error in typing, but it was then a strangly consistent error in typing, and here we see further evidence of an *apparent* confusion.

I often wondered is that because such views where the common views during post Japanese feudalism. Or was O'Sensei influenced some how by Nitobe. I don't know if the latter is possible.

It is hard to think so for me at least...Nitobe wrote his book in English, and as you noted, for a western audience. I don't know if a Japanese translation was available at the time when Ueshiba would have been likely to read it during his formative years. Do you have any sources that suggest so? We do know that Ueshiba did not read English...correct? And further, do you have any evidence that **if** Ueshiba did have access to a translation, that he actually read it, and that it influenced his thinking in any way?

But it seems there is a commonality between the two men in their thinking along the same lines.

Could you be more specific?

Something to consider when there is comment made about Nitobe being flawed in his understanding of Bushido. I would definately not mistake Nitobe for anything thing else than being, well I will quote him, "The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such ideas and customs prevail in Japan. He is talking about what formed his moral notions which he credited it to Bushido. He was born during the feudal period of Japan.

I'm not sure how that statement takes anything away from the cautions raised by the folks on this thread and others.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
05-29-2009, 08:31 AM
Dito what Peter and Josh have said...

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
05-29-2009, 11:37 AM
Some more reference material. It should be particularly noted that this material was NOT originally published online. And that it was written by an historian. Not a layman.

http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_hurst_0501.htm

Some particular things that caught my eye:

Nitobe was born in 1862 during the turbulence of the bakumatsu era, but almost immediately embarked upon an educational career that in a sense isolated him from the main events of the age. He began the study of English at age nine and, after several years of study in Tokyo, went off at fifteen to school in Hokkaido, where he became a Christian and studied primarily agricultural economics, in English, from Americans. [EN4] Hokkaido was only just becoming a real part of Japan, so Nitobe was essentially isolated spatially, culturally, religiously, and even linguistically from the currents of Meiji Japan.

This passage does two things...it makes me wonder if there was any way in which Ueshiba's time in Hokkaido could have included any knowledge of Nitobe. And it stresses how unprepared Nitobe was to use Bushido in any accurate sense at all, for ANY purpose.

Nitobe was not even aware when he wrote the book that the term bushidó existed: he thought he was coining a new word, and he expressed some surprise several years later when a Japanese pointed out to him that the word actually existed in Tokugawa times! [EN10] Thus Nitobe’s contemporary, Basil Hall Chamberlain – who was virtually the only one with courage enough to challenge him at the time – was not incorrect when he referred to the excitement over Nitobe’s bushidó as the "invention of a new religion."

This I think highlights why we must try to discourage the Gendai Budoka from looking at this book as any type of treatise on Bushido...or having any real value as such (even if incidental to his actual purpose). The dangers of such usage are pointed out in the article, which stresses what happened when others used this idea as the underpinnings of Japanese Nationalism leading up to the war.

Please read the entire article. It really is quite good. And it is NOT a product of an internet fad...

Best,
Ron

Buck
05-29-2009, 06:44 PM
It going to take me awhile to answer all of it. Those internet discreditors of Nitobe who say he has a flawed view of bushido (which I think is odd because well his Japanese, and born during feudal Japan etc.) treat his work as if it was a primer for budo it, yet clearly it wasn't. Now if the Japanese accepted the book as a primer for bushido, then it goes to reason the flaw doesn't lay with Nitobe's work. And I would think the Japanese if they feel it was a primer should now, and not the Nitobe discreditors on the internet. Right?

I didn't state it as evidence, rather an observation. I can point out why I believe that in another thread.

Good question, and if you failed to ask it I would scratch my head in wonder. I see common views of both men toward the transformation of Japan at that time. I base that on O'Sensei's, and Nitobe's books. We will have to start another thread to get into that.

I am going to stop here, and finish the rest later.


Hello Phil,

A few more points and questions.

Why do you assume that Internet attackers of Nitobe see him as writing a 'primer for bushido'? He wrote a book called "Bushido: The Soul of Japan", which was taken by the Japanese themselves as a 'primer for bushido', along with the Hagakure. I want to be clear about this, for your statement entails that the Japanese were/are also as mistaken about Nitobe as his 'western' Internet detractors. To me, it is completely immaterial whether or not Nitobe was writing a 'primer for bushido'. What he wrote was accepted by many Japanese as a 'primer for bushido'.

Of course, I suppose that you have evidence for this. Are there any of O Sensei's writings that you can point to?

With respect, what are the 'common views' in question here? Would you like to summarize O Sensei's specific views on bushido (NB, not budo), on the basis of his discourses?

Do you have any evidence?

You have mentioned this seeming commonality, but what is the commonality? What are the 'same lines' of their thinking? Please spell this out.

Wait a minute. You begin the quote at, "The direct inception...," but you do not end it.
Secondly, there is no relationship between your quotation and 'his moral notions'. Perhaps you should have given the entire section:
"In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and my wife (who asked "the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan"), I found that, without understanding feudalism and Bushido (with a footnote on pronunciation), the moral ideas of present Japan are a closed volume."
"Taking advantage of a long illness, I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversations. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when feudalism was still in force." (Preface, p. xii).

So where is the actual evidence about the 'formation of his moral notions'? Actually, Nitobe was born in 1862, which would make him just SIX years old when the 'feudal period' officially ended.

Many apologies for sounding like a professor in a tutorial, but if you are going to quote Nitobe himself in defence of your argument, you should be fair to Nitobe as well as yourself.

As always, best wishes,

PAG

Buck
05-29-2009, 07:10 PM
Peter,
I can't argue nihonjinron genera whether it was intended or not, or if it was vague or not, and how it relates to Nitobe. But, to me if it is so that he was guilty of nihonjinron then Nitobe was guilty of being Japanese. I don't see how that makes his viewed flawed on bushido, rather the opposite. I just don't understand the great effort on the net by so many who feel the need to debunk with conviction that Nitobe's view on bushido is so flawed. It isn't in my view, and I don't see any reasonable proof that it is flawed.

I would think people would be attacking his views on western culture, and religion instead of bushido. That would make sense.

Buck
05-29-2009, 07:45 PM
Some more reference material. It should be particularly noted that this material was NOT originally published online. And that it was written by an historian. Not a layman.

http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_hurst_0501.htm

Some particular things that caught my eye:

This passage does two things...it makes me wonder if there was any way in which Ueshiba's time in Hokkaido could have included any knowledge of Nitobe. And it stresses how unprepared Nitobe was to use Bushido in any accurate sense at all, for ANY purpose.

This I think highlights why we must try to discourage the Gendai Budoka from looking at this book as any type of treatise on Bushido...or having any real value as such (even if incidental to his actual purpose). The dangers of such usage are pointed out in the article, which stresses what happened when others used this idea as the underpinnings of Japanese Nationalism leading up to the war.

Please read the entire article. It really is quite good. And it is NOT a product of an internet fad...

Best,
Ron

Ron, that is the author's opinion. It is worth noting that if what Peter said is true, that the Japanese considered Nitobe was a primer for bushido. It really shows there is an effort to discredit Nitobe, by western critics who never lived or partook in bushido at the time of Nitobe when it was ending. It's the same thing if the Japanese said the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon is flawed because he knows nothing about cowboys. Or we can say the same thing about works by African slaves in the United States; replace Japanese with White people not understanding the Black experience, yet the White people saying they do. I think with this author you cite, it's the samething. And you said there wasn't a conspiracy on the net. :)

Rennis Buchner
05-29-2009, 10:50 PM
....if what Peter said is true, that the Japanese considered Nitobe was a primer for bushido. It really shows there is an effort to discredit Nitobe, by western critics who never lived or partook in bushido at the time of Nitobe when it was ending.

The context of the work's value is what seems to need to be discussed more here. As I have said previously, the idea that "the Japanese" considered it such a "primer" is false. Many Japan did, and still do, reject the work as having not much, if anything, to do with whatever historically might have been called Bushido. Also this idea of a Western plot by academics to discredit the name seems false as well and Nitobe has and has always had a large number of Japanese detractors as well. If there is a plot, the Japanese are in on it as well, and in fact probably doing most of the work. The fact of the matter is that Nitobe barely lived in the time of, and all sources seems to indicate, did not partake of "bushido" himself.

Yes SOME Japanese did latch onto it, but the context was a bit different. It gained popularity IN JAPAN (for that matter the book has always seemed to be a bit more popular overseas than here) as a work on the "proper" mindset for the loyal Japanese citizen, soldier, etc in years leading up to and through World War Two (a use that some suspect Nitobe himself may not have been comfortable with, although there is much academic debate on this point and many feel that the fact that he never denounced his work being used in such a way has forever tainted his image since, but that is a whole other discussion). The point is that that situation, where the work gained most of its fame in Japan, was in a context where it did not really matter how correct or accurate of a view the work presented on the subject of Bushido in realistic or historical terms. Rather its value was on how a certain segment of the society at the time wanted to the Japanese to view themselves and the work was useful in furthering that view. In the context in which the book gain the most fame, it really had no value as a "primer" to a historically accurate school of thought, which historians, both Japanese and foreign, have long since shown never really existed as a unified system, and while probably not the author's intent, the work has been criticized (by academics Japanese and non-) as being one of many used in some historical revisionism that occured in pre-war and war time Japan.

Nitobe was probably the most famous Japanese man alive during his lifetime (both in and out of the country), but his fame had very little to do with this small work he wrote later in his life. Most of his fame is related to his work abroad in the international community and his high position in the League of Nations. Almost no-one I interact with in Japan outside of some people in the budo or academic communities, are even aware that he wrote the book Bushido, and his fame and area of expertise were in completely unrelated fields. This is basically the point I believe Hurst was trying to make, and it is a view shared by many Japanese I have met. Yes the guy was Japanese, but simply being Japanese, does not in any way qualify the man as an expert in the topic. In addition, his areas of personal interest and professional career seemed to indicate that among people of his generation, he was probably among the least qualified to discuss the topic accurately. Much of his professional work actually was involved with agriculture and economics. It'd be a bit like demanding a highly trained expert on international economics today to write an historically accurate work on the views and social conditions of the United States during the revolution and how that has continued to influence Americans today.

I think really Nitobe's biggest contribution to the whole discussion of commentary on Bushido has very little to do with the actual quality of the work he produced, but rather lies with the fact that he was one of the first to produce a modern work of such a nature.

As an aside, a few people here have brought up the idea that he was very knowledgable about budo (not bushido), I have found no evidence of any real serious commitment to the subject by him. His family appears to have had some connections and he did a bit as a kid, but that seems to be the extent of it (much like my family on my father's side were avid hunters and as a kid I went hunting with them, but outside of it being something I did a bit of as a kid, it has not had much real impact on my personal development and view of the world, much less enable me to make any sweeping generalizations on the effects of the hunting culture on the make up and formation of the United States as a nation).

Anyways, as a simple list of ideas of a way to live your life, the book is as good as any, and perhaps better than many, but it is when you go around trying to claim as being a continuation of bushi-based Japanese ideals accepted by all (or even most) is were you run into trouble and get massively long threads on the issue.

Rennis Buchner

Buck
05-29-2009, 11:32 PM
The context of the work's value is what seems to need to be discussed more here. As I have said previously, the idea that "the Japanese" considered it such a "primer" is false. Many Japan did, and still do, reject the work as having not much, if anything, to do with whatever historically might have been called Bushido.

... but it is when you go around trying to claim as being a continuation of bushi-based Japanese ideals accepted by all (or even most) is were you run into trouble and get massively long threads on the issue.

Rennis Buchner

This is what I have been saying all along, if you go back through my posts you will see it. Like I said, Nitobe never was writing a book on bushido, he was using it as a instrument in his argument, an argument that was laid out in his preface. And in the passages I posted you see he wasn't concerned with defining, or what ever, his concerns where on a bigger scale and scope, the cause of Japan. He tells us that in the foward and more precisely in the last chapter in his book. You have to consider his time period and who was his audience in the way he wrote the book, it was for them to understand something in their snobbery and arrogance could get their head around about his culture i.e. Japan has no religion, that is absurd, impossible! -kind of thing.

You would have to think that Nitobe's book was defining budo like the Hagakure or other such books to say Nitobe's views are flawed on bushido. That thinking is the flaw, either way. Again why isn't he criticized concerning Christianity, having a flawed view be? It is because he is mis-read as defining bushido as Yamamoto and others did before. Why is he misread, because he wrote his book around 1899 in English of that day, since there no need to translate it in comtemporary English, like the Hagakure that was written in Japanese.

Buck
05-29-2009, 11:48 PM
The book is about religion. Here again why isn't Nitobe being criticized about Christianity? The book shows that Japanese have ethics and moral in a way snobby parlor Victorians can understand. It was written for them to prove something to them, and not the Japanese martial arts community, or ours.

I find it odd that there is the effort to discredit Nitobe on the grounds of bushido by people on the net. People who don't, haven't, are prohibited, and unable to live the bushido life. Again it goes back to what I said to Ron about Slavery and Cowboys.

Buck
05-30-2009, 10:49 PM
Peter,
this is the quote you are concerned with it should read as follows and the quote is italicized and in bold for your your convenience:

Something to consider when there is comment made about Nitobe being flawed in his understanding of Bushido. I would definately not mistake Nitobe for anything thing else than being, well I will quote him, "The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such ideas and customs prevail in Japan." He is talking about what formed his moral notions which he credited it to Bushido. He was born during the feudal period of Japan.

Peter Goldsbury
05-31-2009, 12:03 AM
I am not entirely sure why you made the last post, or whether we are actually on the same wavelength. I myself have the book and I think we need the first few paragraphs of the Preface to the First Edition:

"About ten years ago, while spending a few days under the hospitable roof of the distinguished Belgian jurist, the lamented M. de Laveleye, our conversation turned during one of our rambles, to the subject of religion. "Do you mean to say," asked the venerable professor, "that you have no religious instruction on your schools?" On my replying in the negative, he suddenly halted in astonishment, and in a voice which I shall not easily forget, he repeated "No religion! How do you impart moral education?" The question stunned me at the time. I could not readily answer, for the moral precepts I had learned in my childhood days were not given in schools; and not until I began to analyse the different elements that formed my notions of right and wrong, did I find that it was Bushido that breathed them into my nostrils.

"The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan.

"In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and to my wife, I found that without understanding feudalism and Bushido, the moral ideas of present Japan are a sealed volume.

"Taking advantage of enforced idleness on account of a long illness, I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversation. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when feudalism was still in force." (Preface, pp. xi-xii.)

In my university graduate classes (all Japanese students), there tended to be an even split between those who thought that Bushido was crucial for understanding "the moral ideas of present Japan" (even in 2008, when I last taught the class) and those who thought it was a dead concept, never really instantiated, that was finally laid to rest as a result of World War II.

Nitobe's wife was American and I can imagine the domestic scene. I remember a similar scene many years later, when I myself started aikido training in 1969. My Japanese teacher taught that aikido was/is essentially bushido, teaching and practicing all the same virtues that Nitobe lists. The only difference with Nitobe is that my teacher laid far more stress than Nitobe on the Emperor (though Nitobe is fairly effusive):

"Mommsen, comparing the Greek and the Roman, says that when the former worshipped he raised his eyes to Heaven, for his prayer was contemplation, while the latter veiled his head, for his was reflection. Essentially like the Roman conception of religion, our reflection brought into prominence not so much the moral as the national consciousness of the individual. Its nature-worship endeared the country to our inmost souls, while its ancestor-worship, tracing from lineage to lineage, made the Imperial family the fountain-head of the whole nation. To us the country is more than the land and soil from which to mine gold or reap grain--it is the sacred abode of the gods, the spirits of our forefathers: to us the Emperor is more than the Arch Constable of a Rechstaat or even the Patron of a Culturstaat--he is the bodily representative of Heaven on earth, blending in his person its power and its mercy. If what M. Boutmy says is true of English royalty--that it "is not only the image of authority, but the author and symbol of national unity," as I believe it to be, doubly and trebly may this be affirmed of royalty in Japan." (Nitobe, Bushido, pp. 14-15.)

Now many years later, I still believe that my first teacher--and also Nitobe, present a view of Bushido that is fundamentally flawed.

Best wishes,

PAG

Buck
05-31-2009, 12:12 AM
Hello Phil,

Secondly, there is no relationship between your quotation and 'his moral notions'. Perhaps you should have given the entire section:
"In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and my wife (who asked "the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan"), I found that, without understanding feudalism and Bushido (with a footnote on pronunciation), the moral ideas of present Japan are a closed volume."
"Taking advantage of a long illness, I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversations. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when feudalism was still in force." (Preface, p. xii).

So where is the actual evidence about the 'formation of his moral notions'? Actually, Nitobe was born in 1862, which would make him just SIX years old when the 'feudal period' officially ended.

Many apologies for sounding like a professor in a tutorial, but if you are going to quote Nitobe himself in defence of your argument, you should be fair to Nitobe as well as yourself.

As always, best wishes,

PAG

Your right. I stated moral notions was referred to by me as the closest thing Japanese had to religion within the context of the book etc. To me the sentence "...I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversations. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when feudalism was still in force." To me he is saying that HE was taught. Clearly indicating he wasn't defining what Bushido is as some many think and believe he was. That task was already done by those who where Bushido, those who where still alive that influenced him, who lived and continued to follow Bushido in their lives and their hearts until they died.

There is no demarcation of time that definitively says Bushido ended here. It not a goal line on a football field, or a declaration of surrender. Scholars argue that Bushido ended in after the Shimabara rebellion, other don't. Point being it took some time before Bushido was phased out over time and eventually disappeared into obscure practice. We can say Nitobe was influenced, and taught by experts in Bushido, something he infers to in his own words. "...I had learned in my childhood days,were not given in schools;they were imparted as part of the feudal tradition that still held sway over much of Japan in my youth." And in his own words, he doesn't state or imply he is an expert in Bushido or that he is writing a book that defines Bushido. But, rather trying to answer question that put him on the spot by Westerners in such a way that would be comprehend by Western readers that he had moral education. Part of that was using European parallels- implied Bushido being part of that parallel. Bushido being something he received education in, that still had an influence on Japanese life back then. All done in a way for the benefit of the Western reader .

The rest of the preface supports that three times. He says how discouraging it is for him not to be a native English writer, how in his "discourse" he has made "parallel examples from European history and literature hoping it will help the comprehension of foreign readers." To help them understand "Bushido and the feudal system is essential to a comprehension [of the Western readers] of the soul of Japan. And he also says "All though the work, I have tried to illustrated the points I have made with similar examples from European history and literature. I hope the is will make the subject more relative for the comprehension of the Western reader." He wants them to understand he had morals and points to Bushido to show that presented in a way that would be understood by Western readers. He was bother by the fact he couldn't write as well a native English writer to get his message across better.

Nitobe is concerned about how effective is argument for the cause of Japan. It is clear he is not providing the world with what is or isn't, what should be and shouldn't be Bushido. The guy Ron cited obviously didn't read the preface when he slammed Nitobe. It was really off the mark of what Nitobe was really discussing and what Nitobe was about.

It is us, in our ignorance who don't understand Nitobe's point when we criticize him for not presenting Bushido as we see it should be, and that he has a flawed view on Bushido- as we see it

BTW my edition doesn't number the preface.

Also I just noted Peter you posted a new post, I have yet to read before posting this one. Which means this is not a response to your new post.

Buck
05-31-2009, 12:51 AM
Now many years later, I still believe that my first teacher--and also Nitobe, present a view of Bushido that is fundamentally flawed.

Best wishes,

PAG

Respectfully, that is your opinion. An opinion you have later come to believe, because, as you imply, you are wiser and thus now think he is flawed as well as your teacher and all the other Japanese that support Nitobe.

Personally I find that difficult to get me head around. It is easy for us to say that almost a hundred later, and being Westerners. I know you have been in Japan a long time, and have experience with the culture. But....That goes along the lines that a White man can understand what it is like to be a black slave. And saying that a black man who was born at the end of slavery and was freed at six years old has a flawed view of slavery base on a book he wrote to communicate that he and the black race are not a species of animal-lesser than human. You can't deign them that experience, with all due respect. You can't be so arrogant to say Nitobe's view of Bushido is flawed, with all due respect. He was closer, way closer, to Bushido, and what it was. He didn't write a definite book on the subject. He wrote about Bushido in a way that could be understood by Victorian Westerners who snub him and Japan. He lived and was taught Bushido under it's influence. His father and mother, and other family lived it, surely.

We practice Aikido, not Bushido. What right do we have to criticize and say a Japanese scholar and researcher who was educated in Bushido and was born at the end of that period, who was trying to show his moral up bring, based in Bushido, to snobby arrogant Westerners, and didn't feel he convey it well enough. If his views are flawed, then they are a hell of allot more right then ours will ever be.

What book, what author is the definite authority on Bushido, Tsunetomo who was a samurai that was more of a suit wearing pencil pushing samurai, then a harden uneducated illiterate battle field vet? A book that was used as a model, put in practice like the Bible, of how to be a samurai for one particular samurai clan?

What is the validation that permits us to make such judgements upon Nitobe and those like him of who is and isn't flawed in their views of Bushido? Regardless of what we think of ourselves, we will certainly never touch or engage in Bushido. We stand at the museum class and take notes.

Peter and others take my tone as being rude or disrespectful. I post in all due respect.

Peter Goldsbury
05-31-2009, 01:50 AM
Hello,

A few comments.

Respectfully, that is your opinion. An opinion you have later come to believe, because, as you imply, you are wiser and thus now think he is flawed as well as your teacher and all the other Japanese that support Nitobe.
PAG. Yes. It is my opinion--and is subject to the same kind of peer review as Nitobe's opinion about bushido.

Personally I find that difficult to get me head around. It is easy for us to say that almost a hundred later, and being Westerners. I know you have been in Japan a long time, and have experience with the culture. But....That goes along the lines that a White man can understand what it is like to be a black slave. And saying that a black man who was born at the end of slavery and was freed at six years old has a flawed view of slavery base on a book he wrote to communicate that he and the black race are not a species of animal-lesser than human. You can't deign them that experience, with all due respect. You can't be so arrogant to say Nitobe's view of Bushido is flawed, with all due respect. He was closer, way closer, to Bushido, and what it was. He didn't write a definite book on the subject. He wrote about Bushido in a way that could be understood by Victorian Westerners who snub him and Japan. He lived and was taught Bushido under it's influence. His father and mother, and other family lived it, surely.
PAG. I disagree. I do not believe at all that you cannot understand bushido unless you have been born a Japanese. Thus your case of black slavery is quite irrelevant. In the same way, since I was not living in Hiroshima at 8.15 on August 6, 1945, I do not have direct experience of being an A-bomb victim. However, I have a pretty good idea of the moral issues involved in dropping the bomb, and also a pretty good idea of the issues concerning the city government's policy on nuclear weapons, or whether the A-bomb Museum presents a truthful picture of what happened. I do not need to have been an A-bomb victim, in order to understand these issues and have an opinion concerning these issues. I do have an obligation to make sure that these opinions are as well-informed as possible and the same is true of Nitobe's opinions. (In this respect, this thread had hardly scratched the surface.)
Furthermore, I do not agree that an opinion that Nitobe has a flawed view of Bushido is at all arrogant. I am an academic and Nitobe wrote a book. His ideas are public knowledge and his arguments can be tested. Is what he states true, or reasonable? What are the explicit premises of his arguments? What are the assumptions he takes for granted? What effect do these unargued assumptions have on his argument as a whole? This is not arrogance: it is academic common sense.

We practice Aikido, not Bushido. What right do we have to criticize and say a Japanese scholar and researcher who was educated in Bushido and was born at the end of that period, who was trying to show his moral up bring, based in Bushido, to snobby arrogant Westerners, and didn't feel he convey it well enough. If his views are flawed, then they are a hell of allot more right then ours will ever be.
PAG. Well, as I stated in my previous post, my first aikido teacher argued that aikido was bushido: that when we practised aikido, we practised bushido. I disagreed with him then (and said so) and I disagree with him now. The way you state your views about criticizing Nitobe, you are implicitly denying the possibility of serious historical research and analysis. The wartime Kokutai no Hongi tract also presented a view of Bushido that was just as flawed as that of Nitobe. We have every right to question publicly stated views about Bushido and its argued relationship with aikido. Whether his audience were 'snobby arrogant westerners' is beside the point: it is the ideas themselves that are in question. And the last sentence in the above paragraph (in bold type) is quite unworthy of you as a reasonable debater, given your past contributions to AikiWeb. If you really believe what you have stated, then there is no further point in continuing this discussion.

What book, what author is the definite authority on Bushido, Tsunetomo who was a samurai that was more of a suit wearing pencil pushing samurai, then a harden uneducated illiterate battle field vet? A book that was used as a model, put in practice like the Bible, of how to be a samurai for one particular samurai clan?
PAG. I hope these are rhetorical questions. I am not concerned with the Hagakure. No one stated in this thread that Nitobe was 'the definite authority on Bushido'. I have seen that some Japanese I have encountered do regard him as an authority on Bushido, but others agree with me that his view of Bushido is flawed.

What is the validation that permits us to make such judgements upon Nitobe and those like him of who is and isn't flawed in their views of Bushido? Regardless of what we think of ourselves, we will certainly never touch or engage in Bushido. We stand at the museum class and take notes.
PAG. I think I have explained my view of the validation above. Whether we ourselves practice Bushido, or not, is a separate issue and has a much wider scope than Nitobe's view and the question of its validity.

Peter and others take my tone as being rude or disrespectful. I post in all due respect.
PAG. Not at all.

Best wishes,

PAG

Buck
05-31-2009, 10:43 AM
Peter,

I want to thank you for your time with this topic. I know what I said about your statement that you feel Nitobe view is flawed, stuck in your craw. I felt your statement to criticize your statement similar to how Nitobe is criticized by a group on the net that sees Nitobe to be flawed, and influencing many similarly. This is because I think those who see Nitobe being flawed and influenced by them see it from strictly one perspective, and not his. He faced many challenges in explaining the abstract question presented to him in a way he new best that would result in the best understood answer of those who had no idea of his culture.

Therefore it is easy to criticize Nitobe, it makes him an easy mark to do so, because his book was a first attempt to explain to Westerners the complexity and uniqueness of how he seen his oneself and culture way back in the 1800s. In comparison with today where have more contact and understanding of the Japanese.

I think if one is going to criticize Nitobe's view on Bushido, it is something of light fare that is done in one sentence or on a blog, or alike where editors and experts are absent in evaluation of the piece that is posted. I think Nitobe deservers a proper argumentation in the proper forum, regardless of the vanity (I feel of some) who will admonish anyone on the net who subscribes to Nitobe's view of Bushido.

Evidently, we didn't do this here. What I tried to do is give an alternative view on seeing Nitobe. A view I think is more substantial than saying his views on Bushido are flawed, by those who really where not in his shoes, or could be. A man who struggled to communicate himself and his culture to snobby, even pompous closed minded academic Victorians. The flaw of Nitobe was to take the bait they set out. I think that is how the book should be looked at. Of couse it is not the definative book on Bushido, it wasn't intended as I read it, it was a clever refute to say if your going to attack me, you are attacking your own beilef system because yours and mine (moral education) share the same fundemental commonalities. I also think he may wanted to be accepted and recognized by his Western peers and may had been conflicted. That kind of stuff, I think is essential in viewing Nitobe. That is the magic of it, where we can see for possibly the first time in his book the cultural struggle, or what have you, between Japan and the West. A tell, that is more interesting then simply discrediting Nitobe's use of the abstraction of Bushido. We are able to see how different the two cultures where, and the differences in thought and philosopy very readily with Nitobe.

I think under different circumstances Nitobe's book and the use of Bushido would have read different. That is something we also have to take in consideration.

Hello,

A few comments.

PAG. Yes. It is my opinion--and is subject to the same kind of peer review as Nitobe's opinion about bushido.

PAG. I disagree. I do not believe at all that you cannot understand bushido unless you have been born a Japanese. Thus your case of black slavery is quite irrelevant. In the same way, since I was not living in Hiroshima at 8.15 on August 6, 1945, I do not have direct experience of being an A-bomb victim. However, I have a pretty good idea of the moral issues involved in dropping the bomb, and also a pretty good idea of the issues concerning the city government's policy on nuclear weapons, or whether the A-bomb Museum presents a truthful picture of what happened. I do not need to have been an A-bomb victim, in order to understand these issues and have an opinion concerning these issues. I do have an obligation to make sure that these opinions are as well-informed as possible and the same is true of Nitobe's opinions. (In this respect, this thread had hardly scratched the surface.)
Furthermore, I do not agree that an opinion that Nitobe has a flawed view of Bushido is at all arrogant. I am an academic and Nitobe wrote a book. His ideas are public knowledge and his arguments can be tested. Is what he states true, or reasonable? What are the explicit premises of his arguments? What are the assumptions he takes for granted? What effect do these unargued assumptions have on his argument as a whole? This is not arrogance: it is academic common sense.

PAG. Well, as I stated in my previous post, my first aikido teacher argued that aikido was bushido: that when we practised aikido, we practised bushido. I disagreed with him then (and said so) and I disagree with him now. The way you state your views about criticizing Nitobe, you are implicitly denying the possibility of serious historical research and analysis. The wartime Kokutai no Hongi tract also presented a view of Bushido that was just as flawed as that of Nitobe. We have every right to question publicly stated views about Bushido and its argued relationship with aikido. Whether his audience were 'snobby arrogant westerners' is beside the point: it is the ideas themselves that are in question. And the last sentence in the above paragraph (in bold type) is quite unworthy of you as a reasonable debater, given your past contributions to AikiWeb. If you really believe what you have stated, then there is no further point in continuing this discussion.

PAG. I hope these are rhetorical questions. I am not concerned with the Hagakure. No one stated in this thread that Nitobe was 'the definite authority on Bushido'. I have seen that some Japanese I have encountered do regard him as an authority on Bushido, but others agree with me that his view of Bushido is flawed.

PAG. I think I have explained my view of the validation above. Whether we ourselves practice Bushido, or not, is a separate issue and has a much wider scope than Nitobe's view and the question of its validity.

PAG. Not at all.

Best wishes,

PAG

Ron Tisdale
05-31-2009, 12:09 PM
I think my participation in this thread has run it's course, given two simple facts.

1 : One of the arguments has been that others are making assumptions...yet the only ones in this thread that I see doing that are the ones who wish to either support their view of Nitobe's work as a valid source for some level of a definition of Bushido, or those putting forward an idea of an "internet conspiracy". These are assumptions...and no evidence has been presented to bolster these assumptions in any way with anything like facts or critical thinking. This being coupled with the use of words like "ego", "vanity", etc., show a willingness to use those assumptions to cast others in a negative light, without the ability to actually back that up. Further, assumptions are made as to what the motives of others are. And these assumptions are again used to cast others in a negative light.

2 Phil has repeatedly ignored the reasoned arguments of others actually trained in this kind of discussion, and actually mis-characterized the contributions of serious scholars in the field. When it is clearly shown that these are NOT being posted on the web, but rather, in serious scholarly journals, and that the authors are looking at the work as a whole and in the context of the times when it was written, his response is: to simply repeat the same weak accusations as earlier, and accuse professional, trained historians of not reading the actual work! :eek: He shows no willingness to engage the arguments in good faith, by either addressing the arguments in a factual and logical way, or by accepting that he may have misconstrued something, and moving forward from there.

Lacking any semblance of honest debate, there really is no point in continuing. I am glad however that the conversation (such as it is) took place, because it does give some good examples of what is (and is not) intelligent debate. Hopefully others reading it will be able to look at the various arguments and come to reasonable conclusions on their own. That is one of the values of this sort of medium. Perhaps in future when I see the same thing happening, I'll just post a link to this thread, and move on, rather than attempt to engage someone who simply is not really interested in engaging to begin with.

Best,
Ron

Buck
05-31-2009, 05:52 PM
I think my participation in this thread has run it's course, given two simple facts.

1 : One of the arguments has been that others are making assumptions...yet the only ones in this thread that I see doing that are the ones who wish to either support their view of Nitobe's work as a valid source for some level of a definition of Bushido, or those putting forward an idea of an "internet conspiracy". These are assumptions...and no evidence has been presented to bolster these assumptions in any way with anything like facts or critical thinking. This being coupled with the use of words like "ego", "vanity", etc., show a willingness to use those assumptions to cast others in a negative light, without the ability to actually back that up. Further, assumptions are made as to what the motives of others are. And these assumptions are again used to cast others in a negative light.

2 Phil has repeatedly ignored the reasoned arguments of others actually trained in this kind of discussion, and actually mis-characterized the contributions of serious scholars in the field. When it is clearly shown that these are NOT being posted on the web, but rather, in serious scholarly journals, and that the authors are looking at the work as a whole and in the context of the times when it was written, his response is: to simply repeat the same weak accusations as earlier, and accuse professional, trained historians of not reading the actual work! :eek: He shows no willingness to engage the arguments in good faith, by either addressing the arguments in a factual and logical way, or by accepting that he may have misconstrued something, and moving forward from there.

Lacking any semblance of honest debate, there really is no point in continuing. I am glad however that the conversation (such as it is) took place, because it does give some good examples of what is (and is not) intelligent debate. Hopefully others reading it will be able to look at the various arguments and come to reasonable conclusions on their own. That is one of the values of this sort of medium. Perhaps in future when I see the same thing happening, I'll just post a link to this thread, and move on, rather than attempt to engage someone who simply is not really interested in engaging to begin with.

Best,
Ron

Ron glad you decided to chime in,and make criticism that are seemly out of know where, as if I was arguing directly with you. I don't see how your post fits in other then trying to discredit my opinion that Nitobe's view on Bushido isn't flawed, and that there isn't a conspiracy (which obviously there is- 3 or more people make it a conspiracy) to prove that. I understand your ad hominem attacks on me, because you have no other contribution to the argument? I am having a discussion, I provide my opinion, because it would be arrogant of me to think I am an expert on the Japanese and Bushido. I base my discussion on Nitobe from his book. I didn't know him personal, and God knows I am not Japanese, nor did I ever want to be, nor could I ever be, and this includes Bushido. My criticisms is on individuals like yourself, that take a wide sweeping red pen to Nitobe's book, and stamping it incorrect. Therefore, then are we not missing all the other good stuff in the book?

Nitobe may not have written a strict definition of Bushido by your standards, so If Nitobe's view is flawed then whose isn't, yours? How about Tsunetomo's view? So then whose definition do you put up against Nitobe's to show us what flawless Bushido is? :)

lbb
05-31-2009, 06:49 PM
Ron glad you decided to chime in,and make criticism that are seemly out of know where, as if I was arguing directly with you. I don't see how your post fits in other then trying to discredit my opinion that Nitobe's view on Bushido isn't flawed

I think you have to turn off your attack-sensors and really read what Ron wrote to see how his post "fits". Put simply, he is pointing out that those you disagree with are providing scholarly research to back up what they say, whereas you...well, to be honest, it sounds like your sources are a bit more like Cliff's Notes. Now, you'll probably accuse me of making an ad hominem argument too, but I've got no dog in this hunt, I've got nothing against you, and I'm not even talking about you...just about your argument.

Look, I'm no scholar of Japanese history and culture either. I know a few things, but if someone who's a scholarly heavy hitter were to refute one of my cherished notions, I'd like to think that I would reexamine what I thought was true, rather than simply insist, "Is so!" -- which is kind of how your arguments are sounding to me, I'm afraid to say.

Buck
05-31-2009, 07:13 PM
I messed it up here and this is how this is suppose to read.

Peter,

Revised

I want to thank you for your time with this topic. I know what I said about your statement that you feel Nitobe view is flawed, and stuck in your craw. I felt to criticize your statement that criticized Nitobe's view of Bushido is similar to how Nitobe is criticized by a group on the net. And that, is influencing many to seeing Nitobe being flaw based on limited argumentation.

This is because I think some of those many who are influenced to see Nitobe as flawed, view Nitobe similarly as those Victorian writers challenging him. What is different is they just accept what they hear and they don't ask for a balanced informative argument but rather 't they just accept what they hear because it was said so on the net. Everyone with this view sees it from strictly one perspective, and it isn't Nitobe's.

He faced many challenges in explaining the abstract question presented to him in the way he knew best that would result in the best understood answer of those who had no idea of his culture. During Nitobe's time Japan little was known about it, and it was a mystic and mysterious place.

Therefore it is easy to criticize Nitobe, it makes him an easy mark, because his book was a first attempt to explain to uppity Westerners the complexity and uniqueness of how he seen himself and his culture way back in the 1800s.

Now in comparison with today where we have more contact and understanding of the Japanese it is more easy and familiar to do so. There is no mysterious East, no bridges to build, etc. Our current day and age is a global one, where isolation, as it is a thing of the past.

I think if one is going to criticize Nitobe's view on Bushido, it is something of light fare that is done in one sentence or on a blog, or alike where editors and experts are absent in evaluation of the piece that is posted. I think Nitobe deservers a proper argumentation in the proper forum, regardless of the vanity (I feel of some) who will admonish anyone on the net who subscribes to Nitobe's view of Bushido.

Evidently, we didn't do this here. What I tried to do is give an alternative view on seeing Nitobe, something that is lacking on the net. What is needed is a counter argument -which should be done better than I have done.

I think if we are to say Nitobe’s views are flawed on Bushido, it has to more substantial than just saying so by those who where not ever in his shoes, or could be. Remember he is Japanese working from that end of things to get Westerners to understand the cause of Japan and not the cause of Bushido. He is a man who struggled to communicate himself and his culture to snobby, even pompous closed minded academic Victorians. The flaw of Nitobe was to take the bait they set out. I think that is how the book should be looked at.
Of course it is not the definitive book on Bushido, it wasn't intended to be as I read it, instead it was a clever refute to say if your going to attack me and my belief system, you are attacking your own belief system because yours and mine (moral education) share the same fundamental commonalities.

I also think he may wanted to be accepted and recognized by his Western peers and may had been conflicted. That kind of stuff, I think is essential in viewing Nitobe. That is the magic of it, where we can see, for possibly the first time, in his book the cultural struggle, or what have you, between Japan and the West. A tell, that is more interesting then simply discrediting Nitobe's use of the abstraction of Bushido. The attribute of the book is we are able to see so many different things between the two cultures, like the differences in thought and philosophy and is very readily seen with Nitobe.

Nitobe is also giving us a look at Japan that is more palatable, more digestible, less concentrated to those who are starting their venture into the Japanese cause. The least relevant points than, in comparison, here and above, are whether or not Nitobe does or doesn’t have a flawed view of Bushido, taken to be the exemplary model of Bushido.

I think under different circumstances Nitobe's book and the use of Bushido would have read different. That is something we also have to take in consideration when discussing Nitobe comprehensively and fairly.

Buck
05-31-2009, 07:43 PM
I think you have to turn off your attack-sensors and really read what Ron wrote to see how his post "fits". Put simply, he is pointing out that those you disagree with are providing scholarly research to back up what they say, whereas you...well, to be honest, it sounds like your sources are a bit more like Cliff's Notes. Now, you'll probably accuse me of making an ad hominem argument too, but I've got no dog in this hunt, I've got nothing against you, and I'm not even talking about you...just about your argument.

Look, I'm no scholar of Japanese history and culture either. I know a few things, but if someone who's a scholarly heavy hitter were to refute one of my cherished notions, I'd like to think that I would reexamine what I thought was true, rather than simply insist, "Is so!" -- which is kind of how your arguments are sounding to me, I'm afraid to say.

Awe, shucks. But...but... that is our relationship. We are internet pundits.We attack each other blindly without reading what the other is saying. :) :)

I see what your are saying. Though I feel everyone makes mistakes and can be wrong. Or miss something or get stuck in box. Sometimes fresh eyes are needed, a different perspective is needed. Not everything functions in an academic world. The Ivory Tower world is a world of argumentation. In the academic world it is common to discredit others ideas in favor of yours.

When I post about Nitobe, I am giving an opinion, I am challenging the idea that just because the internet says so, its gotta be true, and not specifically one individual. I don't think you or I need to be an academic (a researcher) to see from different angles, etc.

Also a matter of fact is, Nitobe was a heavy or one of the heaviest academic hitters of his day. He was one of the first in the area of expertise in Japan and Europe. It is odd Mary, that you didn't see that. Rather, you seen Peter as such. When in fact Nitobe paved the way for Peter and others, for all of us really in a way. Nitobe was a pioneer and as so had great value to what he wrote. :D

lbb
05-31-2009, 07:53 PM
I see what your are saying. Though I feel everyone makes mistakes and can be wrong. Or miss something or get stuck in box.

Well, sure, but the thing is, scholars get called on it. An academic can be dull, stodgy, abrasive, and uninterested in innovation, but they can't be persistently or consistently factually incorrect without having the academic world call BS on them and substantiating their charges. Did you ever hear the saying, "You have the right to your own opinion; you don't have the right to your own facts"? There is a difference between fact and opinion, and opinion can't gainsay fact. Now, what we're talking about here isn't quite as cut and dried as the difference between "2+2=4" and "kickypunchydo is the best martial art for self-defense", but there's still a big difference between an opinion based on a casual reading of one secondary or tertiary source, and one formed by a critical reading and careful study of numerous primary sources.

Also a matter of fact is, Nitobe was a heavy or one of the heaviest academic hitters of his day. He was one of the first in the area of expertise in Japan and Europe. It is odd Mary, that you didn't see that. Rather, you seen Peter as such. When in fact Nitobe paved the way for Peter and others, for all of us really in a way. Nitobe was a pioneer and as so had great value to what he wrote. :D

Do me the courtesy of not telling me what I see who as, mmmkay? Nitobe could be viewed as a "pioneer", yes, but a "pioneer" of what? Not a pioneering scholar of bushido, which is the subject at hand, not so?

Buck
05-31-2009, 09:50 PM
Well, sure, but the thing is, scholars get called on it. An academic can be dull, stodgy, abrasive, and uninterested in innovation, but they can't be persistently or consistently factually incorrect without having the academic world call BS on them and substantiating their charges. Did you ever hear the saying, "You have the right to your own opinion; you don't have the right to your own facts"? There is a difference between fact and opinion, and opinion can't gainsay fact. Now, what we're talking about here isn't quite as cut and dried as the difference between "2+2=4" and "kickypunchydo is the best martial art for self-defense", but there's still a big difference between an opinion based on a casual reading of one secondary or tertiary source, and one formed by a critical reading and careful study of numerous primary sources.

Do me the courtesy of not telling me what I see who as, mmmkay? Nitobe could be viewed as a "pioneer", yes, but a "pioneer" of what? Not a pioneering scholar of bushido, which is the subject at hand, not so?

Mary, slow down... and re-read my posts. Do me that courtesy, because I don't want you be embarrassed. I said he was an academic pioneer. I never said of Bushido, but between Japan and Europe,i.e. he wrote his book in English concerning .... I have explained it so many times just go back and pls. re-read my posts.

lbb
05-31-2009, 10:07 PM
Oh, I give up. You win, Philip. You're totally right about all of it.

Keith Larman
05-31-2009, 10:47 PM
Buck

I've read and reread your posts now a bunch of times. The only real question I have is whether you wonder why it is that virtually *everyone* is disagreeing with you?

Seems to me there are two possibilities.

One is that your posts are just incredibly difficult to understand (too complex? too esoteric?). And everyone here is simply not of a caliber to understand your point.

*or*

Maybe, just maybe, we do understand what you're saying, but... you're simply wrong...

Peter Goldsbury
06-01-2009, 05:31 AM
I studied Nitobe in a university in the USA, keep in mind he was well versed in western thinking, and culture. So, I studied him from a western view, along with other western thinkers, not concerning budo, but rather his argument. Which again is totally missed on the western internet that is so bound and determined to show how fundamentally wrong he was about what is and isn't Japanese budo.:eek:

I think it will help me, at least, to understand your position about Nitobe if you explain a little more about how you studied him. Did you, for example, read Kitasawa's biography? What was the main theme of the course?

I taught Nitobe's theories of bushido in a course for doctoral students at Hiroshima University. My students were all Japanese and the course featured nihonjinron from a western perspective: how non-Japanese (like Hearn and Benedict) and Japanese living abroad (like Nitobe) contributed to this phenomenon.

Best wishes,

PAG

Ron Tisdale
06-01-2009, 07:59 AM
Please note the following:

I did not attack you, I attacked the lack of evidence and the manner of your arguementation. Read below carefully...you might find it fits your posts much more than mine.

As I said, not much more to say here. I personally do not bother with a definition of Bushido, because it simply is not a factor in my training. Not at all. Budo however, is a strong factor in my training. If you'd like to start another thread about that, I might be interested in discussing my thoughts on the matter. If you can avoid these types of side issues.

Best,
Ron

Translated from Latin to English, "Ad Hominem" means "against the man" or "against the person."

An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of "argument" has the following form:

Person A makes claim X.
Person B makes an attack on person A.
Therefore A's claim is false.
The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made).

Example of Ad Hominem

Bill: "I believe that abortion is morally wrong."
Dave: "Of course you would say that, you're a priest."
Bill: "What about the arguments I gave to support my position?"
Dave: "Those don't count. Like I said, you're a priest, so you have to say that abortion is wrong. Further, you are just a lackey to the Pope, so I can't believe what you say."

Ron glad you decided to chime in,and make criticism that are seemly out of know where, as if I was arguing directly with you. I don't see how your post fits in other then trying to discredit my opinion that Nitobe's view on Bushido isn't flawed, and that there isn't a conspiracy (which obviously there is- 3 or more people make it a conspiracy) to prove that. I understand your ad hominem attacks on me, because you have no other contribution to the argument? I am having a discussion, I provide my opinion, because it would be arrogant of me to think I am an expert on the Japanese and Bushido. I base my discussion on Nitobe from his book. I didn't know him personal, and God knows I am not Japanese, nor did I ever want to be, nor could I ever be, and this includes Bushido. My criticisms is on individuals like yourself, that take a wide sweeping red pen to Nitobe's book, and stamping it incorrect. Therefore, then are we not missing all the other good stuff in the book?

Nitobe may not have written a strict definition of Bushido by your standards, so If Nitobe's view is flawed then whose isn't, yours? How about Tsunetomo's view? So then whose definition do you put up against Nitobe's to show us what flawless Bushido is? :)

Ron Tisdale
06-01-2009, 08:07 AM
con⋅spir⋅a⋅cy  /kənˈspɪrəsi/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kuhn-spir-uh-see] Show IPA
–noun, plural -cies. 1. the act of conspiring.
2. an evil, unlawful, treacherous, or surreptitious plan formulated in secret by two or more persons; plot.
3. a combination of persons for a secret, unlawful, or evil purpose: He joined the conspiracy to overthrow the government.
4. Law. an agreement by two or more persons to commit a crime, fraud, or other wrongful act.
5. any concurrence in action; combination in bringing about a given result.

Hmmm...oh never mind...

Best,
Ron

Buck
06-01-2009, 11:42 PM
I think it will help me, at least, to understand your position about Nitobe if you explain a little more about how you studied him. Did you, for example, read Kitasawa's biography? What was the main theme of the course?

I taught Nitobe's theories of bushido in a course for doctoral students at Hiroshima University. My students were all Japanese and the course featured nihonjinron from a western perspective: how non-Japanese (like Hearn and Benedict) and Japanese living abroad (like Nitobe) contributed to this phenomenon.

Best wishes,

PAG

I don't see Nitobe is glorifying his culture, of twisting the truth to make Japan look good. He isn't being absurd or expecting to accept such absurdity of his culture. There are other more modern author's that do that. And I am not guilty of nihonjinron. Like I said before, he wrote in English and defending what a Western peer found absurd that Japanese religion isn't like there. What is the similar term to nihonjinron when Westerners do it? When we stereotype and are pompous, self-righteous, think our ways are superior, and our God is supreme, well history is full of good old fashion spilled blood, torture, etc. because of that. But mostly, it takes form in what is reflected in the Victorian age attitude of superiority, and self-rightious ways that is documented by Nitobe. Yes, I think Nitobe was being accurate on how they snubbed him.

I think Nitobe answered his critics in the accepted Western model, and that is clearly seen and stated. I don't think he knew what nihonjinron meant, a genera that came after him. I know you see nihonjinron in a negative context and it only applies to Japanese; being unique to Japanese. I don't think nihonjinron applies to all Japanese books and authors. Watanabe Shōichi and Yuiko Mishima (I don't know any others off hand.) are good examples of nihonjinron, that rival many others and books of the West.
I studied him in an undergraduate upper level religion class. BTW, that is where learning begins, and it doesn't end there in a class room
:)

Buck
06-02-2009, 12:06 AM
BTW, for sake of discussion say Nitobe was guilt of nihonjinron how would that make his writing of Bushido flawed? If he isn't guilt of nihonjinron, how is his view flawed?

Keep in mind I not saying his description of Bushido is or isn't flawed, I am saying that Bushido isn't or is the main idea of his book. What is the main idea is to point to that Japanese isn't without morals and ethics. To support this he uses the example of Bushido and parallels that with Knighthood's.

Buck
06-02-2009, 12:23 AM
Oh, I give up. You win, Philip. You're totally right about all of it.

Your a good internet pundit up to this point. It isn't about you or me, it is about Aikido and Bushido. Your post was directed at me, "...but there's still a big difference between an opinion based on a casual reading of one secondary or tertiary source, and one formed by a critical reading and careful study of numerous primary sources."

I stated that I was not arguing formally, but giving my opinion, and if you read my posts even at best haphazardly you would have known that. And that I did study Nitobe. And I still am. I don't need a Ph.D to critically read, or go beyond college to deepen by understanding and knowledge, or even become an expert.

Please taken a moment and really think about what you said to me and how you said it. And what you are reading. Maybe you will not respond to me as if we are children playing a board game, and you lost. It isn't a contest. :)

Peter Goldsbury
06-02-2009, 01:33 AM
I studied him in an undergraduate upper level religion class. BTW, that is where learning begins, and it doesn't end there in a class room.

Many thanks.
I agree that learning does not "end there in a classroom".

PAG

Peter Goldsbury
06-02-2009, 06:13 AM
And I am not guilty of nihonjinron. Like I said before, he wrote in English and defending what a Western peer found absurd that Japanese religion isn't like there. What is the similar term to nihonjinron when Westerners do it?

I don't think he knew what nihonjinron meant, a genera that came after him. I know you see nihonjinron in a negative context and it only applies to Japanese; being unique to Japanese. I don't think nihonjinron applies to all Japanese books and authors. Watanabe Shōichi and Yuiko Mishima (I don't know any others off hand.) are good examples of nihonjinron, that rival many others and books of the West.

I mentioned nihonjinron in Post #74 only to ascertain more clearly how you had studied Nitobe in college. To discuss this here would involve too much thread drift, away from the main topic of how the philosophy of bushido and of aikido can be compared. If you want to discuss nihonjinron, I suggest you begin a new thread.

Buck
06-02-2009, 07:52 PM
I mentioned nihonjinron in Post #74 only to ascertain more clearly how you had studied Nitobe in college. To discuss this here would involve too much thread drift, away from the main topic of how the philosophy of bushido and of aikido can be compared. If you want to discuss nihonjinron, I suggest you begin a new thread.

We are on the same page there, I also suggested a new thread some posts back. Thanks for making that clear. I wasn't sure if that was something that related to your view.

Buck
06-02-2009, 08:01 PM
Many thanks.
I agree that learning does not "end there in a classroom".

PAG

I am glad you understood that as intended as a compliment, most people would have thought of it as an insult. :)

Keith Larman
06-02-2009, 08:04 PM
Nevermind... :crazy: