Watsuji's Phenomenology of Embodiment and Social Space

Philosophy East and West 63 (2):127-152 (2013)
The aim of this essay is to situate the thought of Tetsurō Watsuji within contemporary approaches to social cognition. I argue 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. Yet, as I will show, Watsuji can potentially offer a fruitful contribution to this discussion by lending a phenomenologically informed critical perspective. This is because Watsuji challenges the internalist and cognitivist presuppositions informing the currently dominant “Theory of Mind” paradigm that is driving much social cognition research. Additionally, I show that Watsuji’s alternative model is not merely confined to the realm of phenomenological description but that it also receives robust empirical support from a number of different sources. I thus hope to open up aspects of Watsuji’s thinking that have yet to be fully appreciated.
Keywords Watsuji  Other Minds  Intersubjectivity  Phenomenology  Embodiment
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DOI 10.1353/pew.2013.0016
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