Watsuji’s Idea of the Self and the Problem of Spatial Distance in Environmental Ethics

Laÿna Droz
Kyoto University (PhD)
Watsuji proposes a conception of the self as embodied and dynamic in constant cyclic relationship with the historical milieu. I argue that the concept of a relational individual can provide some solutions to the problem in environmental ethics of the spatial distance between an agent and the consequences of her actions. Indeed, by becoming aware of the interdependent relation between the self and the local shared milieu, one develops and recognizes feelings of care and belonging, which promote more environmentally sensitive lifestyles. Furthermore, this care and awareness of interdependence can be expanded to a global level, including distant human beings and natural environments. Ethics thus emerges from the constant dynamic relation between the relational individual and the historical milieu. keywords: Watsuji Tetsurō—environmental ethics—sustainability— self—relational self— milieu— Japanese philosophy— historicity— spatial distance— Augustin Berque
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