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Watsuji Tetsuro's Rinrigaku: Ethics in Japan

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... Watsuji's theory of fudo as a milieu that binds the I and others into one operated as the basis for his subsequent study into ethics. In Rinrigaku (Ethics), published two years after Fudo (A Climate: A Philosophical Study), Watsuji's target of critique was individualism which he saw as replacing the notion of the whole mankind with the notion of the individual [2]. In this context, Watsuji analyzed philologically the term ningen that signifies man in the Sino-Japanese linguistic usage. ...
... Accordingly, the linguistic convention of Ningen is indicative of the East Asian conception of man as fundamentally embedded with the dimension of the collective. By relying partially upon this linguistic proof, Watsuji made even a radical assertion that " every trace of the notion of independent existence must be voided " [2]. To be sure, Watsuji's emphasis on the collective, or " we " should not be considered a form of totalitarianism at the expense of nullifying individual differences. ...
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My paper discusses an East Asian notion of climate and its significance for sustainability. A particular reference is the environmental philosophy of Tetsuro Watsuji (1889–1960), a Japanese philosopher who reflected upon the meaning of climate, or “fudo” in the Sino-Japanese linguistic tradition. Watsuji sees fudo not merely as a collection of natural features—climatic, scenic, and topographical—of a given land, but also as the metaphor of subjectivity, or “who I am”. Furthermore, this self-discovery through fudo is never private but collective. By referring to a phenomenological notion of “ek-sistere”, or “to be out among other ‘I’s”, Watsuji demonstrates the pervasiveness of a climatic phenomenon and the ensuing inter-personal joining of different individuals to shape a collective sustainable measure in response to the phenomenon. My paper lastly concretizes the significance of fudo and its inter-personal ethical basis for sustainability by dwelling upon cross-ventilation in Japanese vernacular residential architecture. Cross-ventilation emerges only through what Watsuji calls “selfless openness” between different rooms predicated upon the joining of different ‘I’s soaked in hotness and humidity. Watsuji’s fudo thus offers a lesson that without considering the collective humane characteristic of a natural climatic phenomenon, any sustainable act is flawed and inefficient.
... As Watsuji (1996) concludes: 'Society can arise only between one subject and another in and through practical communication and, hence, through dialogue, communication, and transportation ' (pp. 161-162). ...
... [9] This limited sense of spatiality is the reason, Watsuji (1996) claims, that Heidegger considered temporality to be of greater importance than spatiality (p. 175). ...
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This paper provides an analysis of the key term aidagara ('betweenness') in the philosophical ethics of Watsuji Tetsurō (1889-1960), in response to and in light of the recent movement in Japanese Buddhist studies known as 'Critical Buddhism'. The Critical Buddhist call for a turn away from 'topical' or intuitionist thinking and towards (properly Buddhist) 'critical' thinking, while problematic in its bipolarity, raises the important issue of the place of 'reason' vs 'intuition' in Japanese Buddhist ethics. In this paper, a comparison of Watsuji's 'ontological quest' with that of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), Watsuji's primary Western source and foil, is followed by an evaluation of a corresponding search for an 'ontology of social existence' undertaken by Tanabe Hajime (1885-1962). Ultimately, the philosophico-religious writings of Watsuji Tetsurō allow for the 'return' of aesthesis as a modality of social being that is truly dimensionalized, and thus falls prey neither to the verticality of topicalism nor the limiting objectivity of criticalism.
... Be it human-system or human-human, a harmony-based approach is one suited to the modern digital life. As outlined, for Watsuji (1996Watsuji ( [1937), this is 'in-betweenness' of people established through communitarian interconnectedness, one that focuses on terms of connectivity and group dynamics, while not omitting individuals. Applied, this individual and collective dyad matters, especially for group harms caused by emergent forms of civic profiling involving emotion and physiognomic-inspired profiling of people in urban spaces (McStay, 2018). ...
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This paper assesses leading Japanese philosophical thought since the onset of Japan's modernity: namely, from the Meiji Restoration (1868) onwards. It argues that there are lessons of global value for AI ethics to be found from examining leading Japanese philosophers of modernity and ethics (Yukichi Fukuzawa, Nishida Kitaro, Nishi Amane, and Watsuji Tetsurō), each of whom engaged closely with Western philosophical traditions. Turning to these philosophers allows us to advance from what are broadly individualistically and Western-oriented ethical debates regarding emergent technologies that function in relation to AI, by introducing notions of community , wholeness, sincerity, and heart. With reference to AI that pertains to profile, judge, learn, and interact with human emotion (emotional AI), this paper contends that (a) Japan itself may internally make better use of historic indigenous ethical thought, especially as it applies to question of data and relationships with technology ; but also (b) that externally Western and global ethical discussion regarding emerging technologies will find valuable insights from Japan. The paper concludes by distilling from Japanese philosophers of modernity four ethical suggestions, or spices, in relation to emerging technological contexts for Japan's national AI policies and international fora, such as standards development and global AI ethics policymaking.
... Watsuji Tesurō built his ethics on a Confucian and Buddhist legacy that also assimilated Western thought-he studied in Germany under Heidegger's auspices. 45 Originally, and diverging from Heidegger's (1962) phenomenological analysis of Being and Time, Watsuji (1996) advocated that spatiality was more primary than temporality on intersubjective grounds (of course, tempora i y is also important). Carter explains that, 'Space is inextricably linked with time, and the individual and social aspects of ourselves are inextricably linked as well, and our history and culture are linked to our climate' (2011,12). ...
... 12 Watsuji's ethics is largely based on the concept of "betweenness" founded on the principle of "the fundamental law of human beings." 13 In this sense, Watsuji's primary interest at its core lies in ethics premised on the ontological-existential foundation of human existence. ...
... Hence, to study home and the domestic environment is to study concepts of the person and the body which, as an intelligent agent, familiarizes itself with the immediate environment and gains an understanding of the place (or, in contemporary city, of a network of places) (Seamon, 2015). The concept of "person", however, varies cross-culturally (Bhabha, 2012;Shweder and Bourne, 1982) and in the Japanese context, the closest notion is expressed by the word "ningen" 6 (Tetsuro, 1996), that as a concept includes "both the person or self as individual and the self or person as inescapably involved in interaction" (Carter, 2001). Because of its interactional qualities the concept of "self" is more promising to investigate the perception of home. ...
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This article explores the multidimensional concept of home through the relationship of the self and the city. The case study is Tokyo, and sense of home and homelike activities of its young dwellers are explored, analyzed, and discussed within the integrated unity of their spatial, sociocultural, and psychological/temporal properties. Semistructured interviews were conducted in order to grasp the rhythm and the dynamics of the daily lives of the respondents and to recognize significant places in the city where homelike activities happen. As a result, a dispersed model of home is revealed, which is juxtaposed to the existing, more traditional, concept. In this model, home becomes a territory, a collection, or network of (semi)public and (semi)private places connected by routes made by an individual who gives them specific values and meanings. Spatially, home is transposed from the singular space of a house/dwelling to a field of activities and actions, giving the city and its systems significant roles.
... Krueger 2014). The Japanese philosopher Tetsurō Watsuji-working at roughly the same time as Merleau-Ponty and Sartredraws upon both phenomenology and Zen Buddhism to develop a model of intersubjectivity consonant with DSP (Watsuji 1996;cf. Krueger 2013;McCarthy 2011). ...
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Defenders of a view called "direct social perception" (DSP) argue that our social-cognitive capacities rest on our ability to directly perceive others' mental states-their emotions, desires, intentions, etc.-embodied in their expressive, goal-directed behavior. DSP thus challenges the widespread assumption that mental states are intracranial phenomena, perceptually inaccessible to everyone but their owner. In this chapter, I consider a version of DSP that draws upon phenomenology, 4E cognition, and empirical work in cognitive science. I first examine DSP in its historical context, focusing on its development in the hands of phenomenologists like Husserl, Scheler, and Merleau-Ponty. I then consider some supporting arguments and empirical evidence-particularly work suggesting that embodied expressions of emotions (e.g., facial expressions, gestures, etc.) may constitute part of the emotion itself. I conclude by defending DSP against several objections.
... What is recognizable here is a dialectical unity of those double characteristics that are inherent in a human being. " (Watsuji, 1996, p. 15). 21 See Kitanaka, 2012. ...
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This paper presents the results of a research project aimed at studying the cultural representations of mental illness and related interventions models in contemporary Japan, and providing the basis for a comparison between Japanese and Italian mental health cultures. The research methodology is based on interviews with scholars and professionals from multiple disciplinary areas and fields of practice, in order to analyze the interactions between medical, social sciences’ and humanities’ discourse on mental illness. The results highlight the significance of home custody within the modernization of the country, between Edo and Meiji periods; the cultural frameworks of contemporary psychiatry’s action; what anti-psychiatry and the ‘critical’ reflection on mental illness represented within the academic debate; the new demands and potentialities connected to the spread of psychology within the mental health sector; remarkably new experiences of social integration with the contribution of arts.
... Influenced by Wilhelm Dilthey, we find geo-historical applications that are coetaneous and even precede Husserl in Ortega yGasset (1962) andWatsuji (1996). ...
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Excellent performance in sport involves specialized and refined skills within very narrow applications. Choking throws a wrench in the works of finely tuned performances. Functionally, and reduced to its simplest expression, choking is severe underperformance when engaging already mastered skills. Choking is a complex phenomenon with many intersecting facets: its dysfunctions result from the multifaceted interaction of cognitive and psychological processes, neurophysiological mechanisms, and phenomenological dynamics. This article develops a phenomenological model that, complementing empirical and theoretical research, helps understand and redress choking. It aims at describing the experience of choking as experience, and to discuss strategies to palliate or prevent its onset at the pragmatic level at which athletes engage the phenomenon experientially. An overview of current empirical research and theoretical models highlights key ideas and points out contentious issues. The model describes the common structure of the choking experience. It identifies four core constitutive elements: A) disruptive proprioceptive and kinesthetic dynamics, B) a malfunctioning background or Jamesian fringe of consciousness, C) dislocated time dynamics, and D) emotional disturbances. The novelty of the remedy is that it is designed to cross disciplinary boundaries between phenomenology, historiography, and hermeneutics, and moreover connects theory to praxis as it looks at Japanese dō (道), practices of self-cultivation. It focuses on actual do-or-die situations, not putative ones such as important business deals or competing for a medal. To this effect, it examines medieval Japanese swordsmanship and training manuals and also engages risk sports, where death is indeed a real possibility. The manuals, which arise in the context of choke-inducing life or death duels, and risk sports, afford keen phenomenological observations and practical advice that prove invaluable for today’s sports world and beyond.
... (1996,329) This, he brilliantly theorized through his analysis of climate. Watsuji (1961) was the first to conduct a fully developed phenomenological analysis of climate and its relation to culture, in his case relating the monsoon weather patterns, and how this had shaped the unique Japanese character. Watsuji reveals how the experience of feeling the cold weather already entails others: "But as we have been able to use the expression "we feel the cold" without any difficulty, it is "we" who experience the cold, not "I" alone." ...
... Comme Nishitani et avant eux le spécialiste du bouddhisme Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō (1870 (Suzuki 1988 ;, il contribua à introduire en Occident le bouddhisme et la philosophie de l'École de Kyōto. De nombreux autres philosophes gravitèrent autour de cette école, dont les plus connus sont Kuki Shūzō (1888-1941 (Kuki 1966 ;2004) et Watsuji Tetsurō (1889-1960 (Watsuji 1996 ;2011). Il n'y a toutefois pas lieu de fournir ici le détail de leur pensée puisqu'ils ne sont pas représentés dans ce numéro 8 . ...
... In addition, Watsuji illustrates how fudo is the agency for the formation of collective cultural measures. In other words, it opens a theoretical space for the understanding of how fudo , or the inseparable concrete bond between man and nature, has implications for the relationship between man and man, or the ethics of the inter-personal (Watsuji, 1961; Watsuji, 1996) This point also seems to echo the etymological meaning of ecology: Ecos , which was the hearth in the Greek residence, was not merely about a man standing near the source of heat in the middle of coldness, but from the beginning about a group of people sharing a limited source in a balanced way. ...
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This article illuminates the relationship between the human being and the surrounding things by referring to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Criticizing our habitual approaches to apprehending 'what a thing is,' the two thinkers elucidate how 'what a thing is' can be understood only in conjunction with situations in the everyday and how humanity is joined with the qualities of the thing. In addition to the situated-ness of a thing, this article demonstrates the situated-ness of the human being, too, by referring to the notion of the horizon in the tradition of phenomenology. The last part of the paper discusses the basic premises of sustainability in reference to the situated-ness of both things and human beings. Framing natural things such as light as the alternative sources of energy propagandized in sustainability seems progressive. However, this attitude maintains fundamentally the same instrumental attitude we had towards nature, an attitude that has caused the current ecological crisis. By pointing this out, this article seeks to shape a ground for a broad spectrum of sustainability that embraces non-instrumental dimensions such as the practical, the ethical and the spiritual. This article also points out the limits of some of the currently available versions of ecology such as Shallow Ecology and Deep Ecology. In so doing, it seeks to lay out the parameters that any future version of sustainability and ecology needs to address.
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In this paper, we introduce the Japanese philosopher Tetsurō Watsuji's phenomenology of aidagara ("betweenness") and use his analysis in the contemporary context of online space. We argue that Watsuji develops a prescient analysis anticipating modern technologically-mediated forms of expression and engagement. More precisely, we show that instead of adopting a traditional phenomenological focus on face-to-face interaction, Watsuji argues that communication technologies-which now include Internet-enabled technologies and spaces-are expressive vehicles enabling new forms of emotional expression, shared experiences, and modes of betweenness that would be otherwise inaccessible. Using Watsuji's phenomenological analysis, we argue that the Internet is not simply a sophisticated form of communication technology that expresses our subjective spatiality (although it is), but that it actually gives rise to new forms of subjective spatiality itself. We conclude with an exploration of how certain aspects of our online interconnections are hidden from lay users in ways that have significant political and ethical implications.
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I examine Tetsurō Watsuji’s philosophical discussion of self and embodiment in his Rinrigaku (“A Study of Ethics”). Specifically, I consider how these themes inform his analysis of aidagara, or “betweenness”—one of Watsuji’s central philosophical contributions. First, I develop a phenomenological reading of aidagara. I argue that the notion can help illuminate aspects of our embodied subjectivity and its interrelation with the world and others. Along the way, I also indicate how the notion can be fruitfully supplemented by different sources of empirical research. Second, I put aidagara to work in the context of psychopathology. I show how disruptions of aidagara in schizophrenia not only affirm the foundational role it plays in organizing our experience of self and world in everyday life. Additionally, I suggest the notion can, in this context of application, potentially enhance our understanding of and empathy for those living with schizophrenic disorders.
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The translation of honraisei as “authenticity” has caused scholars to compare Watsuji with Heideggerian and Taylorian accounts of authenticity. In this article, it will be demonstrated that this translation of “authenticity” is misleading insofar as it suggests a sense of subjective individuality as prevalent within Western philosophical thought. However, rather than rejecting a Watsujian account of authenticity, it will be argued that we can salvage this understanding by rethinking honraisei as a distinctly Japanese approach to authenticity and one which is underpinned by the Buddhist concept of emptiness.
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Despite increasing interest in the work of Tetsuro Watsuji, his discussion of intentionality remains underexplored. I here develop an interpretation and application of his view. First, I unpack Watsuji's arguments for the inherently social character of intentionality, consider how they connect with his more general discussion of embodiment and betweenness, and then situate his view alongside phenomenologists like Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty. Next, I argue that Watsuji's characterization of the social character of intentionality is relevant to current discussions in phenomenological psychopathology. I consider how it can help illuminate the character and structure of some anomalous experiences in schizophrenia. I argue further that this application can enrich existing attempts to connect Watsuji and psychopathology, such as those found in the work of the psychiatrist Bin Kimura.
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In Rinrigaku, Watsuji Tetsurō criticizes Martin Heidegger's Being and Time for taking as its starting point the standpoint of the individual “I.” For Watsuji, this “I” is an abstraction, and starting from it leads the phenomenologist to neglect the more fundamental standpoint of the person who is deeply engaged in social activities. In this paper, I explain that Watsuji's criticism is helpful in shedding light on Heidegger's failure to connect hermeneutic phenomenology to ethics in Being and Time. In particular, it is helpful in understanding the shortcomings of Heidegger's account of authenticity, which in Being and Time is juxtaposed with Dasein's immersion in social relations. I go on to argue, however, that Heidegger had made a more significant connection between hermeneutic phenomenology and ethics earlier, in his 1924 Marburg lectures on Aristotle (Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy), where his treatment of being-with-one-another resonates with Watsuji's later account of betweennness (aidagara).
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This chapter describes Watsuji Tetsurō’s ethics of ningen – of human betweenness- explores how it forms the base of an ethics of technology, and analyses a contemporary technology – containerization – based on his ethics. Watsuji sees technology as part of the milieu. Technology is thus not autonomous, but represents betweenness. Technology can also affect betweenness, and promote it. In its analysis of a contemporary technology, the paper describes containerization as a way to efficiently transport goods, which bears the potential of promoting betweenness, but seen more metaphorically, containerization of people and thought put serious obstacles to realizing an ethics of ningen.
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Cross-cultural dialogue between the Kyoto School of modern Japanese philosophy and the classical pragmatist tradition in American philosophy can help educators to clarify aims for greater ecological responsiveness in moral education. This dialogue can contribute to meeting an urgent practical need to cultivate ecological imagination, and an equally practical need to make theoretical sense of the way in which ecological perception becomes relevant to moral deliberation. The first section of this chapter explores relational thinking in the Kyoto School and American pragmatism to help develop, in the second section, a concept of ecological imagination. A fine-tuned ecological imagination is a capacity we already count on in our best environmental writers, educators, scientists, and policy analysts. Moral deliberation enlists imagination of a specifically ecological sort when the imaginative structures we use to understand ecosystemic relationships shape our mental simulations and what John Dewey calls our “dramatic rehearsals.” The final section draws from the foregoing to clarify some appropriate aims for contemporary moral education. Enriched through cross-cultural dialogue about the relational networks in which our finite lives are embedded, a finely aware ecological imagination can make the deliberations of the coming generation more trustworthy.
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This article builds on the growing literature on the Kyoto School of Philosophy and its influences on the field of Education. First, I argue that the influence of the Kyoto School of Philosophy is historically significant in Japan, and that the connection between this philosophical school and the philosophy of education is by no means superficial. Second, I suggest that this school contributes a unique view of ‘negative education’ founded in the philosophical idea of ‘nothingness’. I examine how this negative education is manifest both in religious cultivation and in more general views of education, and I develop these ideas through the models of self-negation proposed by Nishitani Keiji and Hisamatsu Shin'ichi. Third, taking up the Herbartian idea of ‘pedagogical tact’, I analyse the characteristics of the I-Thou relationship, in the vector of nothingness, implicit in the above-mentioned view of education. I examine two approaches to this relationship—one of ‘sharing in nothingness’ as found in Nishitani and Hisamatsu, and one that goes beyond the idea of ‘sharing’ and accommodates alterity, as found in Nishida Kitarô and Nishihira Tadashi. By threshing out these three points, I hope to highlight the continued pedagogical relevance of the philosophical ideas of the Kyoto School.
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This article outlines an approach to a critical cosmopolitan social theory derived from the thought of the Japanese philosopher, Watsuji Tetsurō. In order to develop this, his thought is positioned against the works of the British sociologist, Gerard Delanty, and the Argentinian semiotician, Walter Mignolo. This will be done through the concepts of space, time and the imagination. From their respective intellectual positions these other two have attempted to develop an approach to social theory that cannot be reduced to the optic of conceptual Eurocentrism. However, while they have made significant and important contributions to the development of critical approaches to cosmopolitan social theory, of providing tools to re-imagine the world, they have done so through maintaining old ways of seeing the world. What emerges from Watsuji’s work is an account of a critical cosmopolitanism that moves beyond conceptual Eurocentrism through an approach to social theory grounded in a relational social ontology. His focus on the ontology of social relationships also provides a cosmopolitanism that makes room for the ‘non-social’ and identifies a cosmopolitan view of the world as plural and as ‘hetero-spatial-temporal’. The social ontology developed by Watsuji also forces us to reconsider our understanding of the imagination, and its potential, beyond the dichotomy of an individual faculty or the product of social context. By expanding the notion of the Imaginal of Chiara Bottici, the article introduces a new understanding of the imagination into the debate.
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(New) Sinology is like a Chinese ritual dance: the key is not the movement, but rather the positions (shi ), the moments of non-action ‘in between’, that make rhythm and transformation possible. (New) Sinology itself occupies an in-between position in the landscape of academic disciplines, though it is not the only one to undertake this dance, as various disciplines engage themselves into a similar quest. Its distinctiveness as intellectual inquiry is to point at intervals, interstices, gaps, cracks, pauses, poses, in-between moments or zones in culture and human life. In that sense, Sinology does ‘mind’ gaps.
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This essay situates Tetsuro Watsuji within contemporary approaches to social cognition. It argues for Watsuji's current relevance, suggesting that his analysis of embodiment and social space puts him in step with some of the concerns driving ongoing treatments of social cognition in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. It is further shown how Watsuji offers a fruitful contribution to this discussion by lending a phenomenologically informed critical perspective. First, some interpretative work is done to explore Watsuji's conception of embodied intersubjectivity. The focus in particular is on Watsuji's conception of what is termed here the "hybrid" body as well as his distinctive treatment of interpersonal space—what Watsuji terms "betweenness" (aidagara). Next, these notions are connected to current treatments of social cognition within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Made explicit are several of the ways that Watsuji challenges the core cognitivist and internalist presuppositions behind the Theory of Mind paradigm, and experimental work is drawn from, among other sources, developmental psychology and gesture studies to support Watsuji's alternative characterization of embodied social interaction.
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Watsuji Tetsurô’s Ethics is one of the most important works in Japanese ethical thought. But scholarly research in English has largely focused on the first of three volumes of Ethics, leaving the latter two oft-neglected. In order to balance out the views of Watsuji’s ethics, this paper focuses on the contributions of the second and third volumes of Ethics. These volumes are essential for any concrete understanding of Watsuji’s ‘ethics of emptiness’. The second volume develops the ideas of the first, particularly how the dual-structure (individuality and communality) is concretely realized through the various stages of ethical organization (family, local community, economy, nation, and state). The third volume develops the notions of space and time from the first volume into a theory of climate (fûdo) and history. By analyzing these, we can understand Watsuji’s system as a whole and clarify Watsuji’s unique contribution to ethical theory.
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In this paper, I wish to consider Watsuji Tetsuro's (1889–1960) concept of climate (fudo), and consider whether it contributes anything to the relationship between climate change and ethics. I will argue that superficially it seems that fudo tells us little about the ethics of climate change, but if considered more carefully, and through the lens of thinkers such as Deleuze and Heidegger, there is ethical insight in Watsuji's approach. Watsuji's major work in ethics, Rinrigaku, provides concepts such as between-ness and trust that enable his philosophy of climate to move from a theory of national characters (as Fudo is often seen to be) to an approach to living well within one's milieu.
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The discussion of animal mind in this paper is based on an idealist philosophy contending that only conscious experience is real, based on the transpersonal notion of collective conscious experience.The latter has earlier been explained by the author as experience referred to a group of humans as the subject, the We. Here it is contended that also a group of humans and animals can be seen as the subject of collective conscious experiences. The author argues that the notion of collective conscious experience provides a possibility for studying the problems of animal mind and the related human problem of “other minds” in a detailed and rational way.
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