19 July 2024
Virtue in Japan: Perceptions Differ

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Virtue in Japan: Historical Context and Cultural Differences

Virtue, a normative concept encompassing moral and social codes accepted by society, has been a topic of interest throughout history. In the West, particularly in ancient Greek and Christian belief systems, virtue was seen as a form of “excellence” that all individuals should aspire to embody. On the other hand, in the East, particularly in Confucian beliefs, virtue was considered aspirational mainly for select individuals like rulers. Despite these differences, the modern era saw a decline in the emphasis on virtue due to the rise of modern values and sociopolitical changes.

Research on Virtue Perception in Japan

In a recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology on 15 February 2024, Dr. Koji Tachibana and Dr. Eisuke Nakazawa explored the perceptions of virtue among educational specialists (ESs) and the general public (GP) in Japan. The study revealed significant differences in how these two groups perceive virtue. Interestingly, the GP tended to associate virtue with passive and emotional qualities, while the ESs leaned towards active and intellectual virtues. Both groups, however, had positive views of virtue but struggled to grasp the Confucian concept of virtue.

Key Findings and Implications

The study highlighted several key findings regarding the perception of virtue in Japan. Firstly, it was noted that the ES group was more familiar with the term “virtue” compared to the GP group. Secondly, both groups held positive impressions of virtue, although their associations varied. ESs tended to align more with ancient Greek virtues, while both groups acknowledged Buddhist elements but had limited understanding of Confucian virtues. Additionally, differences were observed in the emphasis on virtues, with the GP leaning towards Eastern values and ESs towards Western ones.

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These findings underscore the importance of understanding how virtue is perceived in society, particularly among educational specialists who play a crucial role in shaping educational curricula and policies. Neglecting the differences in perception could lead to errors in theoretical and empirical research on virtues and hinder the development of an effective education system. It is essential for ESs to be mindful of these perception gaps to ensure the accurate integration of virtue in educational practices.

Future Implications and Recommendations

The study’s findings offer valuable insights into the understanding of virtue in Japanese society and raise important considerations for future research and educational practices. As Dr. Tachibana emphasized, the differences in perception between ESs and the GP have social implications that extend to academic integrity and educational policy. Moving forward, it is crucial for educators and policymakers to address these perception gaps and work towards a more cohesive understanding and integration of virtue in the education system.

The study on virtue perception in Japan sheds light on the diverse perspectives held by different segments of society. By acknowledging and bridging these perception gaps, educators and policymakers can enhance the incorporation of virtue into educational practices, ultimately contributing to the holistic development of individuals and society as a whole.

Links to additional Resources:

1. www.japanesestudies.org.uk 2. www.jstor.org 3. www.tandfonline.com

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Confucianism, Virtue ethics, Education in Japan

Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China, and is variously described as a tradition, philosophy (humanistic or rationalistic), religion, theory of government, or way of life. Confucianism developed from teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BCE), during...
Read more: Confucianism

Virtue ethics
Virtue ethics (also aretaic ethics, from Greek ἀρετή [aretḗ]) is an approach that treats virtue and character as the primary subjects of ethics, in contrast to other ethical systems that put consequences of voluntary acts, principles or rules of conduct, or obedience to divine authority in the primary role.Virtue ethics...
Read more: Virtue ethics

Education in Japan
Education in Japan is managed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan. Education is compulsory at the elementary and lower secondary levels. Most students attend public schools through the lower secondary level, but private education is popular at the upper secondary and university levels....
Read more: Education in Japan

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