Kokka no Hinkaku, Chapter 2: The World Will Be Ruined with "Logic" Alone

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In this installment, I will summarize Fujiwara’s arguments in their original order and then add commentary at the end.

Main point: “logic” alone cannot lead to a good society.

Four reasons supporting his thesis:

1) Limits to logic

A. Students at American universities have terrible English. They spell “professor” with two f’s. A lot of people were surprised when Dan Quayle made the spelling error with “potatoe” but Fujiwara wasn’t. “It reminded me of old times.” (懐かしく思いました。)Why is their English so bad? Because instead of learning English, they learn how to type. This is exactly the kind of solution that logic leads to.

B. Elementary school students learn about the stock market in America. “It is not necessary for kids to check the newspaper’s financial column.” Kids should learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. “They don’t need to think about economics and society.” This stock learning scheme is also a product of American elite’s logical thought process.

C. Japanese elementary school students should not learn English. “If you want to destroy Japan, this is the most sure method.” Japanese must learn Japanese to become international citizens. When Fujiwara was at Cambridge University, he was asked by a fellow professor “Is there a connection between the suicide of the teacher in Natsume Soseki’s ‘Kokoro’ and Mishima Yukio’s suicide?” The foreign elite will ask Japanese questions like this, so the Japanese must be prepared. A Japanese in the financial sector was asked by his boss, “What was the difference between the two Mongol invasions?”

D. The Japanese lack of English ability used to make them look like quiet types “with something deep in their hearts.” All these young kids who speak English destroy the image of the Japanese by having nothing to say. “So much that I want all those who can speak fluently but have nothing to say to shut up when they are overseas.” There is no time in the first years of the educational process to learn English. Kids must learn Japanese culture, literature, and history. This makes them “international.”

E. The only thing that the public accepts is “one-step” logic. People want to make kids international, so they propose learning English. 86% of the population supports English learning in elementary schools. This is just a logical response to wanting to make people more international. We see the limits to logic in the fact that people keep wanting to wage war, even though every generation realizes how terrible it is. “I think you can call logic a goblin.”

2) You cannot explain the most important things with logic.

A. The world cannot be explained in just in mathematical, logical terms. Godel’s incompleteness theorems prove this mathematically.

B. You can’t prove that murder is bad just through numbers. The old prefecture of Aizu-han taught seven things:

1. You must not disobey the orders of your seniors.

2. You must bow to your seniors.

3. You must not tell a lie.

4. You must not behave in a mean way. (卑怯)

5. You must not bully those weaker than you.

6. You must not eat outside.

7. You must not exchange words with women outside.

Fujiwara thinks these are all right, except for the last one. And written along with these seven lessons is “You must not do what you must not do.” This kind of thing cannot be explained with logic.

C. Teachers and parents should push these values onto their kids. “Japanese schools in the post-war have become where they only teach things through logical explanation. It is because they are reflecting upon the excessive teaching of irrational things in the pre-war, like ‘The Emperor is a living God’ and ‘Anglo-Saxon brutes.'” But in a bout of over-reflection, they now fail to teach important things.

“The British-American thought makes everything go through logic. Firmly teaching those parts that cannot be explained by logic is part of Japan’s national character and was a great source of the high morality of the Japanese people.”

3) The start-off point for logic is crucial.

A. The way you choose hypotheses for a logic chain is through feeling/emotion (情緒) — a word that encompasses religious emotion as well as a person’s ability to synthesize (総合力), a person’s upbringing, opinion of artworks, and all experiences in love. This determines someone’s starting point for logical analysis.

B. For example, if a hungry man steals bread, someone who sees Japan as a nation of law will look upon the that person as a criminal. Someone else may ignore him out of sympathy. These are both decisions dictated by logic, with different starting points and different conclusions.

C. “The Worst is Logical People who Lack Emotional Ability.” Even if logical smart people start with a false preconception, their final conclusion will be false. Smart people who cannot use emotion to pick their starting point are frightening.

4) The chain of logic cannot be very long

A. Logic only works if statements are true or false, 0 or 1. But there are no 1s and 0s in real life — not black and whites, only shades of grey. (Omitted from the summary: a page-long argument using an old kotowaza to explain how deduction with percents doesn’t work.)

B. Long logic chains are dangerous. For example, everyone wants to make Japanese children into “international people” (国際人) — who will even be respected as humans overseas. So, they believe that if they teach them English, they will learn to speak, and become international. But Fujiwara estimates the chances of becoming international at 10%, as only about 10% of Americans can be called “international.” This makes the chance of the whole logic chain to be 0.01%. However, if the logic chain is “Strengthening Japanese teaching at elementary schools —> Enriching people’s internal content —> Becoming international,” then there is a much greater chance of it working.

C. Why are Indians so good at being software engineers? Because they learn multiplication tables up to 19 x 19 in elementary school — not because they use computers. If you want to make a generation of software engineers, you teach basic math better.

D. A logical person would solve bullying by putting school counselors into schools, but they have done this and it has not helped. The way to stop bullying is to teach the moral idea of 卑怯 — meanness.

Notes:

1. The most obvious flaw in Fujiwara’s argument is that a vast majority of people in the English-speaking world do not consider logic to be the sole decision-making criteria. Yes, there is an attempt to use science and research for things like child-rearing, but I think it is a bit far-fetched to believe that ethics and morals are the sole possession of the Japanese nation. Confucianism — and its Bushido offshoot — does provide nice non-religious codes of conduct that fit well into civil education, but I am not convinced that Westerners believe that all morality comes down to 1s and 0s. Most of his criticisms seem to have come from the Cliff Notes of Philosophy 101. Again, I think he would have a hard time finding people to disagree with his arguments. It is his linkage of these arguments to conclusions that is problematic.

2. A lot of the math/deductive reasoning explanation used in the chapter is not necessarily wrong, but strikes me as “smoke and mirrors” type argument, where he is trying to use his specialty knowledge to “prove” something that may or may not have anything to do with his final conclusions. Saying that “something cannot be explained with numbers” and then un-ironically assigning 10% to the “chance of a Japanese person becoming international” seems a bit contradictory.

3. I love how erudite the British come off. Asking about “the difference between Jomon pottery and Yayoi pottery” is not a Japanese 101 type question. They seem to be a good model for “internationalism” — being knowledgeable in your own culture and that of the outside world.

4. Also, none of his solutions seem to be new: teach the basics, children should learn their native language first, teach morals in the schools. Sounds identical to conservative Americans who want to abolish the Department of Education.

5. Is that really why Indians are better software engineers? Because they can do the multiplication of large numbers in their heads?

6. Eating outdoors is morally reprehensible.

Next time — why freedom is an illusion and equality is fiction!

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

38 Responses

  1. Brown Says:

    Marxy, hats off for performing this crucial service! Let us know the hearts (if not the minds) of the fiercely anti-intellectual reactionary oyaji. Has he dissed John Dewey yet? How does Fujiwara’s disjointed grumbling compare with, say,『下流社会』? Miura also takes issue with the allegedly slovenly nature of women and food in public, if I recall correctly, but in his favor he actually brings worthwhile data and analysis to the table. Young people sitting on the ground, speaking (or not speaking) English- Goodness, it’s enough to make your blood boil!

  2. marxy Says:

    I only finished about half of Miura, but in the part I read, he was not very judgmental. It was mostly about the realities of social class and how they effect the consumer market. And yes, it is mostly data-based.

    Fujiwara is more like, “I am so smart and worldly, that you must surely understand why I am right.”

  3. aliene Says:

    Heh. It was fun reading this and I’m really looking forward to the rest of it.

    In the chapter 1 (your previous) entry, it was interesting to see him comparing Japan to Europe when this is (like you pointed out) problematic since he’s comparing a country with a continent. This smells like an unspoken lack of identification with Japan’s neighbours like Korea and China and a superiority complex that extends not just to Europe and America but the rest of the world as well.

    “If the Japan that I love had taken over the world, the world’s children would be crying as they learned Japanese. Such a shame.”
    – That sentence was really reinforces my feeling above…

    I agree that his arguments in chapter 2 just seem to link obsecure information in support of his theories regardless of whether they really matter or are related to the point at hand. The bit about morality really just makes me shake my head. Thinking that a subjective thing such a morality can be “standardised” and adopted to the same standard by every individual in a community is so ridiculous. But well, knowing the direction of his argument he’d probably start arguing against the individual, saying that the Japanese of the past were a people of 1 mind, etc etc etc. *roll eyes*

  4. marxy Says:

    I think it would be fair to say that Fujiwara and other equal-minded bushido-proponents do believe there is one standard moral code that is quintessentially “Japanese” and that provided the “moral strength” behind Japan’s miracluous growth.

    Korea and China

    I may be wrong, but I have not encountered the name of another Asian country by page 64.

    The more I am reading this, the more I realize I need to start reading some Karatani Kojin after this to balance things out.

  5. aliene Says:

    What really scares me is the popularity of this book. If only a small percentage of people who read it start to think like him…

  6. marxy Says:

    I can’t see Fujiwara convincing people who aren’t already suspicious of globalism and on the right-wing. His obvious interest in moralism is not going to win him fans on the Left.

  7. Momus Says:

    I think it is a bit far-fetched to believe that ethics and morals are the sole possession of the Japanese nation.

    But is he saying this? Or is he saying that Japanese ethics and morals are the best groundbed for Japanese people, rather than imported ones?

    It’s interesting how closely this argument maps to a 19th century argument going on in Russia. Figures like Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoyevsky argued against Westernization, setting Russian emotional and spiritual values against the cold-hearted, rationalist spirit of logic and progress seen in Europe. You can see something similar in Tarkovsky’s films.

  8. marxy Says:

    Since he has not mentioned the idea of Western “morals” existing, I am assuming he believes in a binary where:

    Japan = “illogical”, “emotional” values and ethics
    the West = reliance on logic to solve all problems

    As you point out, I don’t think this is a particularly novel argument or unique to Japan. It seems to ground him in a much longer tradition of anti-modernity.

  9. Mulboyne Says:

    The excerpts you have summarized so far remind me of a dialogue from early 2005 between the President of Riken and the Commisioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs:

    http://www.riken.go.jp/engn/r-world/info/release/news/2005/jan/index.html

    Especially the segment entitled “The scientific mind-set of the future: East and West”

  10. marxy Says:

    Sensibility is probably a better translation of 情緒 than feeling, emotion.

  11. Chris_B Says:

    this is turning out to be fun on the bun! thanks again marxy!

    This stuff does seem like populist appeal, that always sells well. After all, everyone knows that 86.3% of the people dont act in their logical self interest.

    Oh, FWIW, 4C reads like endorsing math (logic) but I think maybe its about dicipline. 4D is odd, AFAICT illogical people who endorse political correctness, moral relativism and the nanny state try to solve bullying with councelors. Logical people solve it with a willow switch or that lacking a good old fashioned bare ass spanking.

    (perhaps google will pickup the words “bare ass” and “japanese” and you will get millions of hits)

  12. alin Says:

    Marxy, again you’ve managed to fully convince a monocultural audience. What’s funny here is that basicaly you follow the same pattern as the typical japanese ‘scholar’ from meiji till the 80 or so – with contemporary freak-out exceptions like fujiwara. you descend into the abbys of the unknown (other) then solitarily climb the peaks of wisdom to return and disseminate the knowledge to the adulating (mono-cultural) masses.

  13. marxy Says:

    I killed Ceauşescu.

  14. check Says:

    Objective reasoning is no more “Western” than algebra is Islamic.

    (or)

    Logic is the least unilateral of languages.

  15. alin Says:

    a much longer tradition of anti-modernity.

    haha that’s where in all fairness tarkovski, robert bresson, tom ze and the tropicalia movement … all end up , huh , all neatly packed like sardines in a tiny crushed tin can

  16. Duffy Says:

    Is it just me, or are Alin’s comments almost always in-fucking-comprehensible? Though his perennially dismayed presence does add a certain je ne sais quois to this here circus o’ minds.

  17. Chris_B Says:

    alin, I’m gonna guess that like our dear momus, you havent read the book and have nothing to add but snipery. Am I wrong?

    So far two or so people besides marxy who have read the text in question have chimed in. The rest of us seem merely to be reading marxy’s readers digest notes.

  18. alin Says:

    if you’ve been around for a bit it’s really not that hard to figure out what that book is about. at least a good 90% without actually reading it. (i can guarantee you momus does know a lot about that book)

    marxy does definitely touch on interesting topics but as it turns out if not in the initial post then soon in the comments it actually turns out that his premise and standing point are evil

    contrary to some comment yesterday i believe momus , dzima or myself could actualy walk a mile in marxy’s shoes.

    there was talk the other day as to why some people can take yuki’s negative comments about japan yet when marxy does it they jump on his back. now i don’t know what yuki thinks about neomarxisme but i myself think about NM similar to the way she thinks about this photograph.

    you know people like these can also be described as nihonjinron-ka since all their work is about and dealing with unique japanese things and situations.

    it’s not that i think japan is that great, in fact most of the stuff i’m interested in reading about japan is basically critical. marxy’s writing though after some good false starts usually turns out chauvinistic and evil.

  19. marxy Says:

    You know that you can make your own shoes, right? Not getting into mine shouldn’t be stopping you from anything.

  20. dzima Says:

    Is it just me, or are Alin’s comments almost always in-fucking-comprehensible?

    I wholeheartedly disagree with your point of view.

    What actually confuses me the most here are the wild mood swings in Marxy’s positions.

    First he says that Japan should be criticised objectively like any other developed country but then he writes a sarcastic entry about how the choice of the name Heisei was influenced by Roman Alphabet initials (what do you expect? Japan has to catch up with the West mate! Are you going to make fun of Seiji Ozawa’s hair next?). And then he tells off certain bloggers for criticising New York and America in general. But shouldn’t developed nations have the right to be criticised?

    Marxy, are you the new Machiavelli? Or maybe in your world objective criticism equals sarcastic mockery (which I think is Bill O’Rilley’s schtick).

  21. Momus Says:

    illogical people who endorse political correctness, moral relativism and the nanny state try to solve bullying with councelors. Logical people solve it with a willow switch or that lacking a good old fashioned bare ass spanking.

    I wonder how Marxy feels about having as one of his temple guardians such a stereotypical conservative? Embarrassed? Or is Chris B this blog’s ideal reader? The irony is that entries like this week’s seem to be mounting an attack on Japanese conservatism, and yet these attacks meet with the approval of an American conservative.

  22. nh Says:

    As an English learner, I am curious how you’d traslate 論理 and 理屈 into English.

  23. Adamu in Connecticut Says:

    Well, placed next to each other, I’d say “logic” and “rationality”

  24. Adamu in Connecticut Says:

    It amazes me how many people in this comments section claim marxy has no right to express his opinions on Japanese society (one even calling him “evil” for it), yet he’s gainfully employed and living legally in Japan, a country with constitutionally-protected freedom of speech! He could call Mt. Fuji the Earth’s rancid third nipple if he wanted to and no one could stop him legally. His opinions, no matter how removed from mainstream interpretation (though they aren’t) would not even bar him from citizenship should he desire it (though participating in activities to topple the Japanese government might hurt his chances). Japan’s society can more than withstand an English-language dressing down of Dignity of a Nation along with the rest of marxy’s blog posts, even those some might consider chauvinistic. But the way I see it, you can’t have much respect for Japan’s ability to withstand criticism if you keep trying to protect the country with silly ideas like cultural relativism.

    The reality is that the debate over things like how to retool Japan’s system to become a more normalized (rather than driven by manufacturing exports) and internationally competitive (rather than inefficient, declining, and unattractive) economy, how to deal with globalization, the role of foreigners, and all manner of policies is going on as we speak, and the participants are most certainly NOT all Japanese, nor are there any arbitrary rules stating that they must be. I can see no justification for why someone residing, doing business, consuming the fashion/pop culture of, living in a neighboring country to, or otherwise interested in Japan (or even just the well-being of the world economy or security situation) should NOT have an opinion about Japan in one way or another. If you care about purity and authenticity of anime, for example, you might not like it if the JFTC suddenly imposed sanctions on Gainax for anti-competitive practices, resulting in a 1/3 drop in output by the company for 2 years. And if you happen to like the aesthetics of Japanese street life (I’m referring to Momus) then it would make sense to seek a continuation of the status quo of government subsidies and zoning restrictions that make the usual rows of tiny business lining Japanese streets the norm. Japan is a sovereign nation and a democracy, so ultimately it is the citizens who should have the final say on these matters (including on the role of foreigners and foreign businesses) but that should stop no one from expounding on Japan, with a critical eye or otherwise.

    Japanese law supports this, not just in the constitution’s freedom of speech, but also in public comment procedures, which accept foreign contributions. Foreign interests are actually encouraged to give their input. So since this whole blog is premised on the right to comment on what’s going on in Japan, why don’t we put to rest the false idea that marxy is speaking out of turn?

    Is marxy a chauvinist though? You’d have to ask him, but I kind of doubt he advocates implementing American ideals and thoughts onto Japanese society. For one thing, Japan is a modern state with a constitution and a working rule of law. In that sense, just all non-Western nations that are considered “liberal democracies”, Japan’s institutions have been Westernized. You can take a trip to the Diet building if you don’t believe me. The basic idea that an elected government and bureaucracy that is (ostensibly) answerable to the people has already taken shape. Citizens have the right to vote, and they have the right to criticize the government and ask that they put their tax revenues to good use. So in that sense, the debate over whether Japan should operate under Western assumptions is already settled except in this comments section.

    So except for radicals like Fujiwara, the mainstream of Japan accepts and even cherishes the institutions that may be Western in nature (hospitals, labor unions, an elected government, insurance, banks, courts, roads, schools) but nonetheless form the underpinnings of Japanese society. The debate that rages, then, centers less on fundamental issues like the value of a democracy and more about how to tweak that system to ensure a decent future. And in that context, some decry people like Koizumi who try and apply some of the lessons learned from the American experience to Japan’s economic reform efforts. That’s part of why Fujiwara’s ideas aren’t all that helpful.

    On a related note, I think the reason why “Japanese uniqueness” is such a popular concept among many foreign visitors to Japan (especially those who believe in strict multiculturalism) is that it’s much more comfortable to regard a strange culture as fundamentally different and therefore incomprehensible rather than either admit ignorance or delve deeper. The idea is given a skeleton by the various Western Japan Shills and of course by Japanese nationals themselves.

    One undercurrent to these comments seems to center around the fact that marxy is American (and hence able to be labeled a “chauvinist” I presume) and ostensibly among the elite due to his alma mater. I can understand this sentiment at least in the sense that the US plays too large a role in Japan’s society. On both the security and economic fronts the US has supported Japan in the past, and although Japan now trades with China more (and does not have to rely on a favorable yen-dollar interest rate) than the US, America nonetheless wields a huge influence over Japan’s economic policy – including domestic policies such as copyright protections and the medical device market. Due in part to the power of unaccountable bureaucrats who profit from the status quo, Japan has often dragged its feet on reforms until foreign pressure made things happen. Some of these reforms seem shockingly common-sense (jail time for antimonopoly law violators) while others all too commonly shocking (extend copyright protections to 70 years after the death of the holder – still in progress).

    In this sense, I suppose the commenters that seem to have beef with marxy’s American-ness think that America should step off and let Japan decide for itself.

    I would tend to agree with those who feel like Japan needs to step up and get a better-functioning policymaking mechanism (which in a sense it has already found in the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy) while American negotiators need to step down and realize that they don’t always need to use the pressure of the negotiating table to get what they want (especially since they’ve already got most of it after 17 years of arm-twisting).

    But I most certainly would not agree with those who think Japan is above criticism, or that Americans have no right to criticize because of their government’s position. For example, if Japan’s government is giving dams to countries that don’t need them in the form of ODA just so some former zaibatsu can pad its earnings, it should be soundly rebuked. The same goes for unethical behavior in the news media or unfair treatment of talent by jimusho or any host of other issues. And yes, the same goes for America. My personal belief is that we could all benefit from some constructive criticism.

    Another thing: The comparison of marxy’s blog to the rude photographers makes absolutely no sense at all.

  25. P P Says:

    Adamu, thank you for your comments. Surely Momus, alin, cultural relativists, post-modernists, non-Americans, you would disagree with him?

  26. marxy Says:

    Sorry that this post has to become Referendum Part 200 on whether this blog should be razed to the ground.

    “論理” is definitely “logic.” I always think of “理屈” as “reasoning.”

  27. Adamu in Connecticut Says:

    Yes it is horrible. But by all means please continue kokka no hinkaku week! Great stuff.

  28. alin Says:

    My personal belief is that we could all benefit from some constructive criticism.

    that is my personal belief as well but this site unless someone throws a spanner in the works is simply a unilateral, unidimensional discourse.

  29. P P Says:

    that is my personal belief as well but this site unless someone throws a spanner in the works is simply a unilateral, unidimensional discourse

    On the contrary, I’ve often felt you’ve shed essentialist bicameral positioning via the espousing of demonstrative “non-definatives”, and that is of itself the saving grace of your presence, the raison d’etre of your contributions to unidimensional discourse.

  30. marxy Says:

    I know that I always add aggressively contrarian comments to people’s blog posts when I haven’t even read the book in question. Just to give the debate some “kick.”

  31. nate Says:

    alin:”contrary to some comment yesterday i believe momus , dzima or myself could actualy walk a mile in marxy’s shoes.”

    what I said was that you should reserve judgement until you have as a paraphrase of verstehen. The irony being that the three of you presume to understand Japan, and comment consistently on the soul of the Japanese whereas your supposed adversary rarely makes such grandiose claims… this despite the fact that he’s walked a lot of miles in geta (figuratively).

  32. dzima Says:

    Sorry for ignoring the petty small talk going on right now and focusing on the big picture but I just found out about something

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error

    that pretty much summarises the ideology behind the editorial page of Neomarxisme. Notice one of the conclusions of the study: “Persons living in more individualistic societies may be more likely to commit the fundamental attribution error”…

    Ok, now back to your heated debate in the studio guys!

  33. marxy Says:

    What an odd thing to attribute (haha!) to me, seeing that my explanations are almost always structural, not personal. I am not sure whether you are being sarcastic, or whether it is backwards day, but I think if you really want anyone to take this idea further, you are going to have to go one step beyond – this link is totally Marxy! – and then run away.

  34. Chris_B Says:

    Adamu: spot on.

    momus said The irony is that entries like this week’s blah blah blah

    Well if marxy has something to say to me about it I think he’s capable of doing so. I’m not so interested in being either syncophantic or contrarian for the sake of itself.

    alin said but this site unless someone throws a spanner in the works is simply a unilateral, unidimensional discourse.

    But thats the nature of having your own web page where you can post your opinions. This aint a BBS.

    As for the “mile in ___’s shoes” issue, thats one of my favorite points. Ones perspective on this fine nation that a few of us call home is affected by living here for extended periods of time (as I’m sure any place one expatriates to is). I’ve said it before and I’ll probably have reason to say it again, when M/A/D have lived here for continuous periods of years and had to deal with life outside the gaijin ghetto, I’d love to hear what they have to say about it. Otherwise, their buckets hold little water for me.

  35. dzima Says:

    I am not sure whether you are being sarcastic, or whether it is backwards day

    Typical.

    You want me to develop my ideas? Well, these days I just sit on my couch, open a can of happoshu and watch the rams fighting from a safe distance…

  36. alin Says:

    is simply a unilateral, unidimensional discourse.

    But thats the nature of having your own web page

    so you too chris believe that’s what it is. but i somehow don’t realy think that’s realy the intention. also i don’t realy believe you guys , ‘americans’, are really this homogenous but circumstances here seem to bring you to some lowest common denominator.

    one even calling him “evil” for it

    hey, i never called marxy himself evil

  37. Brown Says:

    Marxy, about Miura: I’ve been very disappointed to read him ranting against tomboys, frumpy women, and 自分らしさ, all things which are apparently going to destroy human culture and make us into lower primates. The hyperbole is his, not mine, unfortunately. Also, wanting to so clearly distinguish man from beast isn’t very Shinto, is it?

  38. Ianm Says:

    Interesting. I found this chapter quite interesting and I think he actually makes some valid points. – although often with questionable justifications.

    I was amused to see him use godels incompleteness theorem as a I used a similar argument in a philosophy paper to show that pure rationality/logic was insufficent as a basis for moral behaviour. My professor didn’t think much of it though.
    His justifications are way of base though. Kids in the US learn about the stock market – ? really ?

    and the “Instead of learning Englishh they learn to type” argument. I don’t see how these two are mutually exclusive. Granted the quality of English typed by the IM generation can be a bit sketchy but on the other hand the amount that I write in a given day at a kyboard is far more than I would have hand-written in a comparable job pre computer age. And then there are the massive benefits that computerisation have brought to Japanese language learning. I can type and read ( wth rikaichan ) with a much larger vocabulary in Japanese than I could hope to writing by hand – although more practice hand writing kanji surely wouldn’t hurt :)

    His argument about using feeling to reach a conclusion is not pecularly japanese either. Mathemeticians and computer programmers(surely among the most logical of thinkers) routinely use the word “elegant” to describe a well crafted proof or piece of code. So while I tend to agree that logic alone is sufficent and that feeling and intuition are often necessary, I disagree that this is somthing that distinguishes Japan from the West.

    btw – thanks for the summary translations. I’ve been hearing about this book for a while now and I don’t think my Japanese is yet up to the challenge.