Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bushido: An Antiquated Values System?

A Critical Review of the Classic Samurai Text:
Bushido: The Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobe - Part One
Article by Sean Hannon

Many martial arts students have romantic notions of, and frequently espouse, the virtues of Bushido – the traditional, behavioral code of ancient Japanese samurai. These individuals often claim to live and abide by such values and sometimes even pass judgment on themselves and others claiming Bushido values as their standard of judgment. But do people today really know what those values were? Or, what those values might mean today? For example, some martial arts students and instructors profess unquestioned loyalty as a virtue of Bushido. However, is unquestioned loyalty always intelligent? If, at times, unquestioned loyalty is not intelligent then wouldn't that also suggest that Bushido, at times, is not intelligent?
And, what about honor? Does honor really exist as a legitimate virtue? Or, is honor just a more sophisticated way of inflating or defending one's ego? Are these and other alleged virtues of samurai culture relevant outside of the oppressive, feudalistic society from which they emerged? Do people really understand these behavioral virtues as they existed? That is, in a context of feudalism? Is it really possible to live Bushido today as it was in the 12th through 19th centuries? Is it possible that Bushido is an antiquated system of values that is either no longer relevant today or at the very least in need of adaptation and modernization? Can Bushido exist in cultural environments based on freedom and capitalism? This series of articles will explore questions like these and will propose possible answers for consideration. We will summarize Bushido's major principles, concepts, and values as articulated in the classic Japanese text, Bushido: The Soul of Japan, and evaluate their applicability in today's modern world.

Read the full article here.

No comments: