Shikinen sengu and the ontology of architecture in japan


Authors
Dominic McIver Lopes
University of British Columbia
Abstract
Japan's Ise Jingu shrine has been taken down and rebuilt every twenty years for more than a millenium - a practice called "shikinen sengu." A standard ontology of architecture, according to which buildings are material particulars, implies that Ise Jingu is no more than twenty years old. However, a correct ontology of architecture is implicit in practices of architecture appreciation. The Japanese appreciation of Ise Jingu and other buildings in its architectural tradition implies both that it is no more than twenty years old and that it is more than a thousand years old. Two ontologies are considered that reconcile this paradox. A general lesson is also drawn, that ontology of art can profit from cross-cultural studies.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1540-594X.2007.00239.x
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