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Chikuro Hiroike (1866-1938) is known today as the founder of Reitaku University, and of the Institute of Moralogy (a Japanese Public Interest Incorporated Foundation). Moralogy is the technical term which Hiroike coined for his "new science which is chiefly devoted to a comparative study of conventional morality and supreme morality with respect to their principles, substance and content, but which at the same time aims at a scientific demonstration of the effects of their respective practices" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, p. 63). He was convinced that this allowed Moralogy to establish "a definite method of perfecting the supreme character of the individual man, and consequently a definite method regarding moral education" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, p. 48).

From the time of its creation, then, moralogy was very much concerned with moral education and character building, and recent trends in moral education of our country have created renewed interest in it. For example, in elementary and junior high schools, from 2018 and 2019 respectively, the teaching of morality as "a special subject" is to be officially required, and this has meant that increasing attention is being paid to the activities of the two moralogy-based institutions mentioned.

Their influence is not confined exclusively to our country, though. The Research Center for Moral Science that forms part of the Institute of Moralogy has already hosted two international conferences, bringing together researchers from all over the world to discuss the results of their work on ethics and morals. Particular mention should be made of the Second International Conference on Moral Science in 2009, the theme of which was "The Theory and Practice of Ethics and Morality--An Evaluation of Chikuro Hiroike's Dedication to Moralogy." Distinguished specialists in ethics and morality from eight countries were present. The specialists included Bhuvan Chandel, Anne Higgins-D'Allessandro, Michael Palencia-Roth, Marvin W. Berkowitz, Brian Gates, and Hermenegilde Rwantabagu. They met with eminent scholars from Japan to examine the significance of moralogy and the activities of Chikuro Hiroike from a variety of perspectives (Iwasa & Kitagawa, 2011).

Reitaku University, and in particular its Center for Moral Science and Education, also enjoys extensive academic and educational collaborative contacts with overseas educational institutions. These include the Center for Character and Social Responsibility at Boston University (one of the fruits of this relationship, a joint publication entitled Happiness and Virtue Beyond East and West: Toward a New Global Responsibility [Ryan et al., 2012] was written for the general public in the United States); the Center for Character and Citizenship at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; and the Jubilee Centre for Character at the University of Birmingham. The purpose of all such links is to conduct the kind of academic research on moral and ethics education that will meet the needs of our globalized times.

To fully understand the contribution of Reitaku University and the Institute of Moralogy to moral education today, though, we must begin with a brief personal history of Chikuro Hiroike, together with an account of the development of his academic studies, of moralogy, and of his educational activities linked to morality and ethics.


A Life History of Chikuro Hiroike (Institute of Moralogy, 2001) recounts how Chikuro Hiroike was born March 29, 1866, in what is today Nakatsu City, Oita Prefecture. After graduating from his local Nagasoi Primary School at the age of 13, he transferred to Nakatsu City School, where he worked so hard that he was able to graduate after slightly more than a year. In 1880, his professional career began with his appointment as an assistant teacher at his alma mater, Nagosoi Primary School. He then entered Reitaku-kan, a private boarding school in Oita City, superintended by Gansho Ogawa, a distinguished scholar of Chinese Classics. His aim was to qualify as a full-time teacher, and he fulfilled this dream in 1885 when he was granted an official teaching certificate. As well as being a devoted teacher, Hiroike also made time to write, publishing Textbooks for Morals in Primary Schools (3 vols., 1891) and A History of Nakatsu (1891), a pioneering local history of Nakatsu district. It is noteworthy that he was the first nongovernment scholar to advocate the necessity of creating archives to preserve historical records. On the strength of his publications, he left his hometown in 1892 and moved to Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, to become a historian.

In Kyoto, Hiroike promoted the cause of historical science, publishing a monthly journal called Shigaku Fukyu Zasshi (A Journal for Propagating Historical Science, or History for the Layman 1892-1895), as well as works like Koushitu Yashi (An Official History of the Imperial Household, 1893) and Nippon Shigaku Shinsetsu (New Comments on Japanese History, 1892), among others. These publications attracted the attention of Yorikuni Inoue, a famous Japanese classical scholar, who admired Hiroike's scholarly abilities and invited him to come to Tokyo to participate in a grand academic enterprise of national importance initiated by the Meiji government in 1895. This was the Koji Ruien (Encyclopedia of Ancient Things Japanese), a huge work compiled from historical source material. Under the editorial supervision of Jojitsu Sato, another eminent Japanese classical scholar (1839-1908), Hiroike worked very hard on this project for 12 and a half years, personally writing a quarter of the Koji Ruien which, when published, ran to a thousand volumes in Japanese binding and 51 volumes in Western binding. Concurrently with this undertaking, under the guidance of Nobushige Hozumi (1855-1926), a distinguished professor at Tokyo Imperial University, Hiroike also devoted himself to the study of the history of Chinese law as a major academic subject. He blazed a trail in the academic field of "the history of Far Eastern law," in the process taking up professional positions at Waseda University in Tokyo from1902, and at the Jingukogakkan College in Ise, Mie Prefecture (1907-1913). In 1912, he finally completed his doctoral thesis, A Study of Ancient Kinship Laws in China and submitted it to Tokyo Imperial University, which unanimously awarded him the degree of doctor of laws in recognition of his remarkable academic achievements.

The price of his remarkable success as a scholar was, however, high. Many years of overwork had made him seriously ill, and he suffered a crisis of health that brought him to the brink of death. In intense pain, and tasting the bitter waters of life, he came to realize that success is totally different from happiness. Examining the self-centered life that he had lived to date, he came to see how he had been aiming at the worldly fame and fortune, and decided instead to dedicate all his energies solely to the realization of the security, peace and happiness of all mankind (The Institute of Moralogy, 2001). Through what was a kind of religious conversion, he reached a very elevated state of mind, accepting even misfortune positively, to the point where he could say, "I have fortunately become ill." After having miraculously recovered from his fatal illness, Hiroike made up his mind to devote all his efforts to the establishment of moral science, a new field of moral thought he called moralogy.


Eventually in 1928, all of Hiroike's self-sacrificing efforts came to fruition in the form of A Treatise on Moral Science: A First Attempt at Establishing Moralogy as New Science, the first edition of which he published as Dotoku Kagaku no Ronbun (A Treatise on Moral Science, 4 Vols., 1928). Contemporaneously with its publication, Hiroike founded the Institute of Moralogy to deepen the study of ethics and morals based on the treatise and to advocate its teachings to the society.

Two of the motives that Hiroike gave for his study of moral science deserve particular notice here. One was the political and social background of his age; Japan was beset by a multitude of national and international challenges, including labor problems, the spread of socialism, ethnic conflicts, and tense relationship with its neighbors. Hiroike strongly believed that a reliance on morality was indispensable to any attempt to find solutions to these problems. The second factor was the advances being made in various sciences in this period, though Hiroike was careful to point out that even these "cannot solve all social and international problems, nor promote world peace, culture and human happiness" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, p. 77). He noted, for example, the rapid development of sociology, but concluded that its original purpose was "only an indirect demonstration of the effectiveness of moral practice" because it sought "to demonstrate in a scientific manner that the genesis and development of society and its functions really follow the development of rational knowledge and morality of mankind" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, p. 77). He recognized the same tendency in ethics, arguing that while "ethics has contributed greatly to the development of the morality of mankind," it was failing to persuade "ordinary people, who are neither sages nor great men, to enjoy the practice of morality," since it was "mainly a scientific explanation of the principles of morality," which did not clearly demonstrate "the effectiveness of moral practice" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, p. 85).

When speaking of religion, he expressed a high opinion of the role which it had played in enriching the mental life of humankind and bringing it to spiritual salvation, but he was at the same time sceptical about its universal quality. One reason for this was his belief that each religion, being "based on a small number of scriptures from a sage's teachings... tries to save the whole of mankind by those narrow and partial doctrines" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, p. 92).

To overcome the limitations of previous academic and religious approaches to the subject, Hiroike felt strongly that the authority of morality needed to be demonstrated scientifically. He aimed to "enlighten and bring the whole of mankind to salvation through the principle of learning and morality underlying the teachings and deeds" of the sages of the world. To achieve this, the method of study in Moralogy would be "scientific" and its method of propagation "purely educational" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, p. 92).


Conventional or Ordinary Morality and Supreme Morality

Hiroike divided the practice of morality into three categories: the first was immorality, by which he did not mean nonmorality indicating something other than morality, but wicked or evil conduct; the second was the conventional or ordinary morality practiced by the civilized people of his time, which had "developed historically in each race or nation and chiefly lays stress on convention and on form" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. II, p. 87); and the third was supreme morality. Though the first and second types differ in their ways of expressing the basic spirit, that spirit is in fact the same, since conventional morality "originated in the instincts of self-preservation and self-development" and its basic motive lay "in selfishness," just as with immorality. But though Hiroike thought that conventional morality was too imperfect to stand as the final moral goal of humankind, he did not consider that it would become unnecessary in the future, even when supreme morality came to be practiced more commonly. So he did not argue for abolishing "the forms" of conventional morality unless they were very harmful, but rather for maintaining them so long the motive, object and method of their practice could be improved so as to fall in line with supreme morality (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. II, p. 88).

For Hiroike, supreme morality, the third form, was "the form of morality practiced by those people who are referred to among the peoples of the world as sages" and is "in accord with the fundamental divine will" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. II, p. 147). He classified the five great systems of supreme morality in the world, namely those which are regarded as having been founded by Socrates of Greece, Jesus Christ of Judea, Sakyamuni of India, Confucius of China and one developed from the holy virtues of Amatersu Omikami, the ancestress of the imperial household of Japan and successive emperors of Japan. The last of these five figures may need slightly more detailed explanation here. Amatersu Omikami ("the great divinity illuminating heaven"), is the sun goddess and most important deity of Japan's Shinto religion. Accounts of her are only found in Japanese classics such as the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters and Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan), and Hiroike himself readily conceded that many people considered such records as "mere mythological fragments, man-made stories or simply a page or two of the history of thoughts which do not have anything to do with man's actual life." Based on his historical and classical studies over many years, however, he argued that such an interpretation is mistaken, because ancient history or legends, which are to be regarded as "actual records of the thoughts, morality, and the beliefs entertained by the people", reflect their "actual life, both spiritual and mental", though they may contain some mythological elements or man-made stories (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 381).

Supreme morality, then, was for Hiroike the morality common to teachings and deeds of the five sages of the world or, more precisely, the morality wherein "with true impartial spirit of benevolence one loves all things including human beings," being "completely free from egoism" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. II, p. 147). So "the standard" by which we should judge our moral character in life is whether we attain, and the extent to which we exert, "this mental activity of benevolence" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 38).

Benevolence as Supreme Morality

According to Hiroike, benevolence cannot be found in the sphere of conventional morality, though we may come across "mental activity which resembles benevolence merely in appearance," such as mere sympathy, kindness, commiseration and the spirit of chivalry there. Such mental activity is ultimately based, to a greater or lesser degree, on selfishness, since it is activated only when it accords with our "isms," opinions, or self-interested desires. The most important principles of supreme morality, on the other hand, are closely related to those of benevolence. For example, when we do not require any gratitude or reward from those whom we have favored, we are able to keep our minds unselfishly peaceful and make our character morally nobler. Such mental activity, being "continually devoted to the work of the enlightenment or salvation of anyone on any occasion, can elevate the doer's character moment by moment, and as a result, can promote his own virtue" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 40).

In Toward Supreme Morality, Hiroike provided a special section, "A Synopsis of Supreme Morality," in which he tried to express its substance in "brief and concise sayings", in order to "help the memory of those who wish to understand and practice" it. The section contains 136 sayings, the earliest one of which ("Benevolence, tolerance and self-examination") he composed after being inspired by the sacred virtue of the sun goddess in the light of the deeds of the other sages. Hiroike asserted that the spirit of benevolence serves as the fundamental spirit for the practice of supreme morality. Based on this, he defined people of benevolence as "those who have become benevolent by following the teachings of the sages and personifying the mind of God; they therefore fulfil their duties to ortholinons (we will explain the meaning of this word in a section below), love other people, forgive others' faults and vices, and in all cases examine themselves, taking all responsibility upon themselves, and making efforts at selfless sincerity, out of their great hope of bringing enlightenment and salvation to the minds of all mankind" (Hiroike, Vol. III, p. 510). Those who do not have benevolence, by contract, fail to pay attention to others' convenience or happiness; their judgment is always selfish and they concern themselves only with their own matters. Hiroike argued the roots not only of individual egoism, but also of public unrest and social discord, lie in the mean emotions and selfishness that derive from base human instincts. He therefore regarded the work of implanting benevolence in human minds in accord with supreme morality as "the noblest, the greatest and the most urgent task in modern human society" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 43).

The Five Principles of Supreme Morality

In his preface to the second edition of A Treatise on Moral Science, Hiroike listed the five principles of supreme morality (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, pp. 10-11). He believed that they were fundamental to the moral systems of all the sages of the world, though the forms they could take were infinite. The five are as follows:

1. The principle of self-renunciation. Here "self" means egoism or the selfish instinct. Hence we should try to repair our self-centered ways of living and conquer our selfishness.

2. The principle of faith in God. Hiroike does not use this word to mean the Christian God, but refers rather to the Reality of universe in general. It should be noted, therefore, that "God" here has no particular religious or racial association, nor is it detrimental to the universal nature of Reality. As Hiroike wrote, in the light of the doctrines, precepts and practices of the world sages, "the essential nature of God is 'benevolence' and his activity constitutes 'the law of nature,' including psychological and physiological laws that relate to man and social laws that work among men." To believe in God, then, is "to practice his law, i.e., morality" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 102), as well as "to believe in his law, that is, the law of nature or universal causality which informs man's mind and his conduct as well as all other more purely physical phenomena" (p. 103). From a philosophical point of view, God here is regarded as Reality, which has been recognized of old by philosophers to be immutable. All the sages of world, on this view, spoke of their belief in God or the Reality, conforming their will to His or Her will.

3. The principle of the precedence of duty over rights. According to Hiroike, this is "a new important theory in jurisprudence which has elucidated scientifically the origin of rights" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. I, p. 10), and in which the origin of human rights is ascribed to the performance of morality or incumbency. According to the doctrines and practice of sages who taught that our lives and property and freedom belong to God, every act of ours "ought to be for the redemption of our debts, [and] our mental activity and conduct should always be in keeping with" this principle, which contains "a sense of gratitude for the benefit given by God and other people and at the same time the practical moral conduct to repay the debits". The basic principle behind this theory is this "idea of gratitude," and the conduct of realizing this idea brings the doer real happiness (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, pp. 61-62).

4. The ortholinon principle. The word "ortholinon" is a technical term which Hiroike coined to indicate "one line of succession that has inherited the spirit in a direct line from God" in supreme morality. He gives us to understand that this word also refers to "the succession of pure orthodoxy that creates or develops the physical and spiritual life" of human-kind, and all those predecessors who belong to this ortholinon are its "great benefactors" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 111). Hiroike classified the ortholinons into three categories: "the bodily ortholinon" generally represented by a parental line of succession; "the spiritual ortholinon" or "a series of men and women who have devoted themselves as educational parents to the rebirth of the spirit of human beings by means of supreme morality"; and "the national ortholinon" which we may consider figuratively as "the parent of the nation" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III. pp. 112-13). The most important feature of this principle is that we should return favors to the ortholinons who bestowed them on us.

5. The principle of enlightenment and salvation. Hiroike believed that one of the gravest reasons for the serious spiritual deterioration so prevalent in the world was the evil influence of materialism. He argued that there was a strong tendency to consider that morality lay in the giving of material gifts, because selfish people tended to think that their pleasure consisted in material gain. According to Hiroike, though, enlightenment and salvation meant teaching people the principles and methods of virtuous living as good human beings. He concluded that these two activities "render fundamental and eternal benefit to the whole of mankind and accumulate incomparably greater virtues than any other practices do" for those who practice them (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 11).

The five principles do not operate as independent elements, but are interrelated in the sphere of supreme morality, with benevolence as their underlying principle, a sort of meta-virtue. Deep understanding and the practice of these principles can lead people to acquire high moral virtue.


Hiroike attempted to put his concept of Moralogy based on supreme morality into practice through both school and social education. He considered it impossible, however, to "enlighten human minds intellectually and leads them toward the right path" through "education en masse," whether in formal school education or ordinary social education, though a certain amount of success might be expected in both areas. Salvation through supreme morality could be achieved only "through personal communication from individual to individual" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 269) rather than by employing the techniques of mass education. Ordinary people could be brought to conceive of enlightenment or salvation and put it into practice through the following steps:

* "To let others understand the principles of supreme morality by stimulating their reason with his learning, experience and various other forms of knowledge."

* "To induce others to be deeply moved by the principles of supreme morality, by stimulating their emotion by his benevolence and sincerity."

* "To inspire the spirit of others the vital spark of supreme morality, by stimulating their conscience by talking about their own experience in practicing ordinary and supreme morality in the past" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 270).

If this procedure is to be utilized by educators, it is, first of all, very important for them to understand and practice supreme morality as a prerequisite of their educational activities. For Hiroike, educators who preached to their students what they had not themselves experienced were simply offering them dead knowledge. Only when teachers tried persuasion based on their own experiences cold they light a vital flame within their students. In the pedagogy of moralogy, therefore, educators are recommended to go through the process of stimulating first the reason, emotion and conscience of their students, and only then making attempts to obtain understanding, sympathy and consent from them.

As a consequence, the ultimate aim of salvation in supreme morality lies "not in the salvation of others but in the perfection of supreme character within oneself." The requirement here is for us to refine further our own character, rather than conduct "disciplinary sessions for salvation, training exercises for missionary work or oratory meeting for drills on preaching" (Hiroike, 2002, Vol. III, p. 270). In schools, teachers should first train their own spirit of benevolence in compliance with the will of the Reality, before trying to exert "a vital personal influence" on their students by transplanting their spirit into the latters' mind, for example, by means of "repeating earnest persuasions, sitting face to face across the table" (p. 269). The underlying principle of Hiroike's pedagogy of moral education, then, is to help students build their character though the positive influence of the moral character of the teachers themselves.


In time conditions became ripe for Hiroike to start to offer a school education based on his moral ideas, initially in the official form of a private college. In 1935, he opened his Moralogy College in present-day Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture. In his journal on New Year's Day, the most important holiday in Japan when everyone makes a fresh start, Hiroike expressed himself with deep emotion on the subject: "I have attained my 70th year. The foundations of moralogy have been established, and Moralogy College is to open in April. After years of hard work with sincerity, finally I can see a gleam of hope. From the point of viewing of enterprise, however, it is only the beginning of the said enterprise. From now on, I must strive to make more and more efforts in all sincerity, in place of the Sages of long ago, to accomplish the great aim of enlightening people's mind all over the world and of realizing eternal peace for humankind. I pray the gods of heaven and earth to be my witness and grant me a divine protection." (Hiroike, 1985-1988, Vol. 5, p. 259). Moralogy College was a coeducational establishment offering two types of instruction: one was school education which was "educationally similar to a university based on the 5-year system, emphasized a character-building related to moralogy, and taught foreign languages and other general subject"; the other was social education "for adults only, [in which teachers] gave lectures on moralogy for 3-month terms, and contributed greatly toward the moral and practical education of society " (The Institute of Moralogy, 1970, p. 32).

In the process of making his dream a reality, Hiroike had to push himself passionately and sincerely, making use of his energies in life to the fullest as a scholar, educator, and savior (The Institute of Moralogy, 1970, p. 41). Such exertions, given his previous illnesses, pushed his body and mind to the very limit (The Institute of Moralogy, 2001, pp. 392-400). As a result, he took his last breath on June 4, 1938, leaving the following poem as a farewell: "My soul remains here, immutable and undying; / and for those cherish the teachings, / I hereby pray that they may be born anew" (Mototaka Hiroike, 2010, p. 321).

Though Hiroike's body perished, his founding spirit has passed down to us in the form of a variety of educational institutions. In the field of social education, the Institute of Moralogy, as both a public interest foundation incorporated in Japan and a research and educational organization, aims today to advance the study of ethics and morals and to promote lifelong social education founded on such studies. Following in Hiroike's footsteps, the institute directs its research, educational and publishing activities to the nurturing and cultivating of moral character and humanity in people, advocating lifelong education and inter- and transgenerational education, by which the moral virtue of each generation is transmitted to its successors.

In the field of school education, there are now four educational organizations supervised by the Hiroike Institute of Education, namely Reitaku University (which includes the Chikuro Hiroike School of Graduate Studies and a special Japanese Language Program), Reitaku Junior High and High Schools, Reitaku Mizunami Junior High and High Schools, and Reitaku Kindergarten. Though these schools have their own individual educational programs and differing pedagogies, they share the common aim of school education based on Hiroike's founding spirit, namely, to cultivate the moral character of pupils and students with his moral philosophy of pursuing "the integration of knowledge and morality" based on benevolence.


Hiroike, C. (2002). Towards supreme morality: An attempt to establish the new science of moralogy (Vols. 1-3). Kashiwa, Japan: The Institute of Moralogy. (Original work published 1922)

Hiroike, C. (1985-1988). The diary of Chikuro Hiroike (Vols. 1-6) [in Japanese]. Kashiwa, Japan: The Institute of Moralogy.

Hiroike, M. (2010). Distilled wisdom: Integrating the perennial and the modern in a troubled world. Chiba, Japan: Reitaku University Press.

The Institute of Moralogy. (1970). Chikuro Hiroike, father of moralogy, a pictorial biography (in Japanese). Kashiwa, Japan: Author.

The Institute of Moralogy. (2001). A life history of Chikuro Hiroike (in Japanese). Kashiwa, Japan: Author.

Iwasa, N., & Kitagawa, H. (Eds.). (2011). Second international conference on moral science, ethical theory and moral practice: Evaluating Chikuro Hiroike's work in moralogy [in Japanese]. Kashiwa, Japan: The Institute of Moralogy.

Ryan, K., Lerner, B., Bohlin, K. E., Nakayama, O., Mizuno, S., & Horiuchi, K. (2012). Happiness and virtue beyond East and West: Toward a new global responsibility. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle.

Osamu Nakayama and Kenichi Eshima

Graduate School of Education, Reitako University

* Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Osamu Nakayama,
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Author:Nakayama, Osamu; Eshima, Kenichi
Publication:Journal of Character Education
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Jan 1, 2019
Next Article:CHIKURO HIROIKE AND FELIX ADLER: Secularization, Morality and Education in Japan and the United States c. 1875-c. 1935.

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