|Abstract: ||Nakae Choumin, known as Rousseau of the East, was a great thinker as famous as Fukuzawa Yukichi during the Meiji period. Learned in both Eastern and Western philosophies, he was also famed in literary circles. Moreover, he introduced latest humanitarian thoughts from France. A colorful life he led, he was never afraid to speak for the marginal groups and was once elected by the people as Congressman in the first Congress. San Suijn Keirin Montou was Nakae’s representative work and also a masterpiece of Japanese thoughts of the Meiji period.
San Suijn Keirin Montou not only displays Nakae’s three internal spirits but also reflects the three social thoughts—the thoughts about people’s rights , national expansionism, and the middle-way (stable) line. Furthermore, these are also the three concepts which have influenced the development of Japan so far.
With his profound understanding of Sinology, Nakae wrote San Suijn Keirin Montou in the representative Meiji literary style, kanbun kundokutai. The rich contents of Chinese studies demonstrate that although Nakae was famous for his erudition of the Western studies, he preferred Sinology when expressing his thoughts.
Through translating and researching the entire San Suijn Keirin Montou, I find that the contents of San Suijn Keirin Montou is about Western knowledge and thoughts but its vocabulary, phrases, sentence patterns, allusions, characters are from the works, poetry, and prose of the pre-Song dynasty in China. Its sources can be categorized into five parts: Confucianism of Confucius and Mencius, Daoism of Lao Zi and Zhuan Zi, histories, yin yang and other philosophies, and literary works. This evidence proves that despite the fact that Nakae is known for his Western thoughts, what he used to convey his ideas is still Sinology, one of the traditional disciplines that Japanese gentry is trained in. This can be seen as the Japanese version of the phenomenon of “the Chinese studies as the body and the Western studies as the practice,” which was very prominent in East Asian intellectuals of the turn of the twentieth century when the Western civilization impacted the East.