- Historical Society of English Studies in Japan
- 英学史研究 (ISSN:03869490)
- no.33, pp.57-71, 2000
The first Japanese translation of "<I>On Liberty</I>" by Keiu Nakamura was published in Shizuoka in 1872, and the first Chinese translation of the same book by Yen Fu was published in Shanghai in 1903. This paper intends to examine reception of Mill's ideas in modern Japan and China by comparing the two translations of chapter III of "<I>On Liberty</I>" on individuality.<BR>Nakamura and Yen Fu had studied in Englan-the former from 1866 to 1868 and the latter from 1877 to 1879-, and both of them endeavoured to introduce Western ideas to their countries. They learnt from the Mill's book the great importance of liberty of thought and action, especially individuality of thought and mode of life. In chapter III of "<I>On Liberty</I>", Mill emphasized individuality of character, and variety of situations as the conditions of individual happiness and social progress and he preferred active and energetic character to passive and indolent one. Their translations of "<I>On Liberty</I>" clearly reflected their deep sympathy with Mill's ideas <I>On Liberty</I>.<BR>While Mill contemplated the liberty of thought, discussion and mode of life in mid-Victorian England, he was anxious about the approaching mass society which would oppress individuality and variety by enforcing conformity of thought and action. Though Nakamura and Yen Fu were living in quite a different atmosphere, they sincerely accepted Mill's principle of liberty.Nakamura who was an eminent thinker of enlightenment in early Meiji Japan and Yen Fu who was a passionate patriot in semi-colonized China, respectively accepted Mill's idea of individuality as a springboard to enlighten their own nations' energy and morality. Their translations of "<I>On Liberty</I>" were the grand monuments of the reception of Western ideas in Japan and China.