Kato Hiroyuki’s Naturalism and Ethics for Modern Japan


  • Eun-young Park
  • Do-hyung Kim


Harmony between People, Materialistic Naturalism, Modern State, Naturalistic Ethics, Organism State Theory


This essay draws on the limitations of materialistic naturalism and ethical aspects attempted by Kato Hiroyuki in the 19th century Japan. In order to overcome the crisis of Western entry into East Asia in the 19th century, Kato Hiroyuki argued that Japan must achieve the development of a modern country through 'Harmony between People'. He studied Western state theory, especially through Bluntschli's political science and state theory, and criticized the Western state theory based on social contracts or natural rights as having an unproven metaphysical basis and insisted on the validity of the naturalist state theory which sees the state as an organism. However, when Kato realized that the organism state theory evolving through competition could harm the 'harmony between people' of the modern Japan, he argued that true evolution could only be possible through competition for harmony of community. In the end, he failed to overcome anti-metaphysical metaphysics called ‘materialistic naturalism’, as the Western social contract theory or natural rights theory he criticized.

Author Biographies

Eun-young Park

Eun-young Park (Corresponding Author) is a Research Professor of AEAS at Sungkyunk­wan University, Seoul. Her area of research is Modern Japanese Thought.

Do-hyung Kim

Dr Do-hyung Kim is Assistant Professor of Department of Japanese Language and Literature at Sejong University, Seoul. His area of research is History of Modern Japan.


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How to Cite

Park, E.- young, & Kim, D.- hyung. (2020). COMPETITION AND HARMONY: Kato Hiroyuki’s Naturalism and Ethics for Modern Japan. Journal of Dharma, 45(4), 575–588. Retrieved from