Review Of Natsume Soseki's "Kokoro"

715 words - 3 pages

Individualism was the core of Natsume Soseki’s writing. In his renowned novel, “Kokoro”, Natsume explored the constant struggle between personal morality and the selfish aspects of human nature through the life experiences of Sensei, who suffered from sense of guilt and loneliness. “The spirit of Meiji Era” was probably the best footnote for “Kokoro”, as it suggested a free, open and independent mental state that people could pursue happiness at their own will. However, this kind of spirit, Natsume argued in his speech of “My Individualism”, would undermine people’s mental wellness if they did not form the concept of egotism and the conscience for their behaviors. Three negative effects ...view middle of the document...

Secondly, although Western individualism stressed on individuality, it often neglected the commitment and responsibility that people should take. Sensei was the prominent example. As the symbol of individualism himself, he deceived K for his own benefit. Upon K’s death, the first thought came into Sensei’s mind was whether his secret would be realized by others, which revealed the selfish side of human nature. We often put much emphasis on personal happiness in modern society, but the truth is, the happiness constructed on other’s sacrifice won’t last long, and the sense of sinfulness will always haunt us. Having observed the moral decay caused by western individualism, Natsume gave new tenets on mutual relationship between individual and the society. In the speech “My Individualism”, Natsume argued that, in order to develop one’s characteristics, he must respect others’ rights. Also, he must bear the concomitant responsibility if he wants to use wealth and power. We can see from above Natsume’s individualism was not unconditional; it was moralistic individualism, which obligated people with responsibility for their...

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