Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 341–357

Similarities and Varieties: A Brief Sketch on the Reception of Darwinism and Sociobiology in Japan

  • Osamu Sakura

DOI: 10.1023/A:1006504623820

Cite this article as:
Sakura, O. Biology & Philosophy (1998) 13: 341. doi:10.1023/A:1006504623820


This paper discusses the reception of Darwinian evolutionary theory and sociobiology in Japan. Darwinism was introduced into Japan in the late 19th century and Japanese people readily accepted the concept of evolution because, lacking Christianity, there was no religious opposition. However, the theory of evolution was treated as a kind of social scientific tool, i.e., social Spencerism and eugenics. Although evolutionary biology was developed during the late 19th and the early 20th century, orthodox Darwinian theory was neglected for a long time. In the mid 1980s, sociobiology was introduced but it was ignored and criticized by a large part of the ecologist-evolutionist community in Japan. This hostile attitude was due to the absence of Darwinism among these scientists. Compared with the reception of sociobiology in English-speaking countries, there were both similarities and differences in Japan.

theory reception Darwinism sociobiology cultural studies evolutionary biology in Japan 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Osamu Sakura
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Human Behavioral Sciences Faculty of Business AdministrationYokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan

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