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Japanese Philosophy and Aesthetics

In the early days of the country’s history, Japanese philosophers largely ignored the theories and practices of China. Confucianism, in particular, was not immediately influential and was not studied extensively until the 16th century. The main interest in Confucianism was the Kongzi, which systematized and defended Chinese customs. These were similar to many practices in ancient Japan, and Confucianism was interpreted as a theory of cohesion and a justification for hierarchy. The governing principle of both cultures was loyalty to superiors and the group.


Modern society stresses fast-paced lives with too much to do and not enough time for the most important things. Japanese philosophy stresses the importance of slowing down, listening to other people and things, and not judging everything. These practices are useful for negotiation and friendships. In addition, Japanese philosophy emphasizes the benefits of removing judgment. For example, listening to a person without judgment can help you make better decisions. Further, Japanese philosophy emphasizes the value of time.


Aesthetics in Japanese philosophy has an important ethical connotation. The ideals of Japanese aesthetics are found in nature and are designed to cultivate human character virtues and appropriate behavior. Japanese philosophy holds that art and aesthetic practice cultivate civility and virtue. By exploring the roots of Japanese aesthetics, students can better understand their own values and the values of others. This book contains 27 new essays that examine the history of Japanese aesthetics and its contemporary relevance today.

Aesthetics in Japanese philosophy emphasizes iki, a concept with an etymological root of ‘pure’ and a connotation of ‘appetite for life.’ ‘Iki’ is the quality of life expressed through originality, simplicity, sophistication, spontaneity, and straightforwardness. Although iki does not occur naturally, it can be expressed through art and philosophy. Similarly, Japanese aesthetics focuses on the ‘tasteful’ expression of sensuality.

Aesthetics in Japanese philosophy emphasizes the uniqueness of objects and the quality of their inherent beauty. A beautiful wooden spoon, for example, may be aged with age and still possess a certain charm. Weathered tree bark, on the other hand, may be imperfect and have charm. These characteristics are characteristic of wabi-sabi, a concept that has become a trend among minimalists. However, the philosophy behind ‘wabi-sabi’ has a rich history in Japanese culture.

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Shinto aims to cultivate heightened openness. It seeks to capture the “mood” of things through a sympathetic resonance with their environment. This level of intimacy is the most intimate form of knowledge. In Shinto, this is the essence of the term mono no ke. The term wabi-sabi is derived from Buddhist teachings that the three marks of existence include suffering, impermanence, and emptiness. Western aesthetics places emphasis on the perfection of things.

Social movements

Since 2011, a new type of social movement has emerged, a kind of occupying the place. The purpose is to reclaim one’s place in the world, and the latest examples include the demonstrations in New York, Hong Kong, and Egypt. In France, people have taken over parliament buildings, giving speeches and holding debates. These protests have been described as ‘an attempt to recover a lost sense of belonging’.

The early twentieth-century academic philosophers in Japan were well-versed in Western philosophy, and their work reflects a global perspective. These philosophers embraced both Western and Eastern thought, and they were influenced by the work of Nietzsche and Fichte. As a result, they were among the most globally-informed philosophers of their time. Despite their distinctly Japanese character, many aspects of their work owe their influence to the social movements in Japan, including the philosophy of religion.

In the West, we think of forensic evidence as a dna pattern of the deceased’s anatomy, and the holographic paradigm is starting to gain ontological relevance. In Japanese thought, the holographic paradigm has always been a high value. Indeed, forensic scientists see DNA patterns as an analogy of a person’s anatomy. While the holographic paradigm is a Western concept, it has been prized in Japanese thought.

In order to evaluate philosophical positions, we must understand the mindset of the creator. For example, a philosophical position is based on a mindset. The mindset of the philosopher’s author is crucial to evaluating the ideas expressed in his/her work. For instance, Yuasa found that the mind-body problem formulations are alien to the Japanese philosophical tradition. The author of a philosophical work is likely to have a radically different perspective.

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German philosophy

A book on German philosophy vs. Japanese philosophy may be useful for students of both traditions. The differences in the development of philosophy can be seen in the history of ideas. Although the two countries were closely associated in the nineteenth century, it was the Germans who exerted the greatest influence on the evolution of Japanese thought. Consequently, German philosophers were soon the preferred locations for Japanese students. However, this choice may have been affected by the modernization strategy of the Japanese government.

In German and Japanese philosophy, the knower is not separate from the known. The two countries are known for their philosophical approaches, but Japanese philosophers see reality as a complex organic system of interdependent processes. The knower is a part of the common field, which is designated by terms such as kokoro, aidagara, and so on. In a way, this approach allows us to make sense of our own mind in terms of our relationship with reality and to think critically.

A fundamental difference between Japanese and German philosophy lies in their focus on the bodymind. While modern Western philosophy views the bodymind as a separate entity, Japanese philosophers see it as an internal part of the self. In this way, Japanese philosophy shares some similarities with ancient Greek philosophy, which also emphasizes the importance of loving wisdom and knowing oneself. This contrasts with the skepticism that characterized German philosophy.

Although Japanese and German philosophy differ in their emphasis on the mind, their differences are not easily resolved. Japanese philosophers have long interacted with a variety of different philosophies outside their own borders, and they have always been attentive to the intimate connections that exist between culture. Moreover, Japanese philosophers benefited from the fact that they remained largely untouched by foreign invasion until 1945. This allowed Japan to negotiate its own philosophical and cultural development without the interference of foreign powers.

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There are many lines of Buddhist thought in Japan. Pure Land lineages, such as those of Shinran and Honen, emphasize chanting the name of Amida Buddha. Despite their reliance on the Lotus Sutra, these schools tended to criticize more traditional figures. The Shingon school of Buddhism is perhaps best known for introducing tea into the country. But the history of Buddhist thought in Japan is much more complex than this.

While original enlightenment thought is considered the pinnacle of Buddhist philosophy, scholars disagree about the proper interpretation of it. Some scholars celebrate it as the epitome of Japanese spirituality while others claim it represents a dangerous anti-nomianism. These latter philosophies undermined the observance of moral precepts and legitimized discriminatory social practices. However, many scholars have been critical of both original enlightenment thought and modern Japanese Buddhist philosophy.

The great buddha of Asuka-dera is one of Japan’s oldest Buddha statues. It is an excellent example of the style known as Tori. It was painted on silk during the fourteenth century. The statue represents a number of Buddhist deities, including the deity of the Buddha. The buddha of Asuka-dera, whose portrait is depicted below, represents the five elements.

The eldest child in a Japanese family typically lights the incense at home. He is often the household elder. The Japanese Buddhist community has tried to integrate early Indian Buddhism and Christianity as a way to overcome the conflicts between the two. However, the differences in the three schools of Buddhist thought make these schools unique in their own way. It is therefore not surprising that Japanese Buddhism is so diverse and so rich in its influences. So, while Buddhism is the dominant religion in Japan, there are many schools of Buddhist thought.