Personal Liberty and Public Good: The Introduction of John Stuart Mill to Japan and China

By Douglas R. Howland

© 2005

Blame for the putative failure of liberalism in late-nineteenth-century Japan and China has often been placed on an insufficient grasp of modernity among East Asian leaders or on their cultural commitments to traditional values. In Personal Liberty and Public Good, Douglas Howland refutes this view, turning to the central text of liberalism in that era: John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty.

Howland offers absorbing analyses of the translations of the book into Japanese and Chinese, which at times reveal astonishing emendations. As with their political leaders, Mill’s Japanese and Chinese translators feared individual liberty could undermine the public good and standards for public behaviour, and so introduced their own moral values – Christianity and Confucianism, respectively– into On Liberty, filtering its original meaning. Howland mirrors this mistrust of individual liberty in Asia with critiques of the work in England, which itself had trouble adopting liberalism.

Personal Liberty and Public Good is a compelling addition to the corpus of writing on the work of John Stuart Mill. It will be of great interest to historians of political thought, liberalism, and translation, as well as scholars of East Asian studies.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 200 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP002215

  • PUBLISHED MAR 2020

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    ISBN 9781487526153
  • PUBLISHED NOV 2005

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    Regular Price: $78.00

    ISBN 9780802090058
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Quick Overview

Personal Liberty and Public Good is a compelling addition to the corpus of writing on the work of John Stuart Mill. It will be of great interest to historians of political thought, liberalism, and translation, as well as scholars of East Asian studies.

Personal Liberty and Public Good: The Introduction of John Stuart Mill to Japan and China

By Douglas R. Howland

© 2005

Blame for the putative failure of liberalism in late-nineteenth-century Japan and China has often been placed on an insufficient grasp of modernity among East Asian leaders or on their cultural commitments to traditional values. In Personal Liberty and Public Good, Douglas Howland refutes this view, turning to the central text of liberalism in that era: John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty.

Howland offers absorbing analyses of the translations of the book into Japanese and Chinese, which at times reveal astonishing emendations. As with their political leaders, Mill’s Japanese and Chinese translators feared individual liberty could undermine the public good and standards for public behaviour, and so introduced their own moral values – Christianity and Confucianism, respectively– into On Liberty, filtering its original meaning. Howland mirrors this mistrust of individual liberty in Asia with critiques of the work in England, which itself had trouble adopting liberalism.

Personal Liberty and Public Good is a compelling addition to the corpus of writing on the work of John Stuart Mill. It will be of great interest to historians of political thought, liberalism, and translation, as well as scholars of East Asian studies.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 200 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    Douglas Howland is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

  • Table of contents

    Introduction

    1 On Liberty and Its Historical Conditions of Possibility
    Translation in Theory
    Translation Words and Lexical Fields
    The Historical Conditions of Possibility
    Individuality and Subjecthood
    Elite Education and the Ruling Class

    2 Mill and His English Critics
    Self and Others
    The Individual as Ground of Liberty
    Negative and Positive Interpretations of Liberty
    Society and Morality as Ground of Liberty
    The Individual and the State

    3 Nakamura Keiu and the Public Limits of Liberty
    Village Society and Government
    Christianity and the Personal Liberty of Conscience
    Free Trade

    4 Yan Fu and the Moral Prerequisites of Liberty

    The Group and the Self
    Models of Private and Public from Chinese Antiquity
    Individuality as Moral Self-Cultivation
    The Boundaries of Authority: Mutual Encouragement and Local Administration

    5 Personal Liberty and Public Virtue
    Mill's Encouragement of Virtue
    Public Virtue and the Priority of Common Interests
    The Japanese State and Its Subjects
    The Reconstruction of the Chinese People

    Conclusion
    Notes
    Bibiliography
    Index