“A Consideration of National Character” by Watsuji Tetsurō: a Translation

Journal of East Asian Philosophy 2 (2):199-215 (2023)
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Abstract

In this translation, Watsuji Tetsurō sets out to clarify that which is entailed by “national character”. In his analysis of this idea, Watsuji critically analyses the Marxist interpretation from the perspective of Martin Heidegger. After articulating Heidegger’s concept of being-there [Dasein], Watsuji then criticizes Heidegger’s approach in three regards. Firstly, Watsuji questions whether the most accessible way of encountering things in the world is through concern with work and use. Watsuji’s counter-claim is that protection from the cold itself is more primordial that wearing clothes. Secondly, Watsuji questions whether within-the-world is only to be found in equipment. Watsuji claims that although the cold can be treated as equipment, it is more primordially encountered directly, such as in the form of a cold breeze. And thirdly, Watsuji asks whether being-in-the-world should only be grasped as concern. For Watsuji, we not only encounter things in the world to be used, such as for protection against the cold, but also in terms of “enjoyment” or “sensation.” The importance of this essay is that it provides a link between Watsuji’s early engagement with Heidegger and the development of Watsuji’s own concept of fudō (風土). In this regard, this translation fills a gap in the primary sources available in English and provides the means to understand Watsuji’s critique of Heidegger and how this critique shapes the development of Watsuji’s mature thought.

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Kyle Michael James Shuttleworth
Akita International University (国際教養大学)

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