Learning to Reason: An Encouragement of Learning (Gakumon no susume)

  • Minhyuk HwangEmail author
Part of the Critical Political Theory and Radical Practice book series (CPTRP)


Hwang analyzes Fukuzawa’s bestseller, An Encouragement of Learning, in this chapter. This popular work was intended primarily as a self-help book that sought to open the minds of bellicose samurais to bourgeois rationalism. Given the threat of Western imperialism, Fukuzawa encouraged the samurai class to transform itself into a class of modern bourgeois citizens committed to liberal nationalism. This, he felt, would result in a new and responsible citizen army à la Machiavelli. Moreover, Fukuzawa tried to sever the symbiotic relationship between Confucian literati and the despotic government by calling for an independent civil society beyond the boundaries of the state. Fukuzawa’s vision of a bourgeois class was prescient; it anticipated the real emergence of the bourgeois class in Japan decades later.


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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