Varieties of Ethical Reflection brings together new cultural and religious perspectives—drawn from non-Western, primarily Asian, philosophical sources—to globalize the contemporary discussion of theoretical and applied ethics.
Examines the role of the gender of philosopher-contributors in the constitution of a philosophical canon. Effects of the inclusion of women's voices within the canon; Development of a Japanese philosophical canon as a case in point.
Ainu artists were invited to make “replicas” of traditional Ainu arts held in an important museum collection and describe their choices, process and results. The resulting Ainu aesthetics challenges—and changes—our understanding of aesthetics and the philosophy of art, on four levels: descriptive aesthetics, categorical aesthetics (the categories through which the Ainu understand aesthetic value), implications of these aesthetics for a variety of human activities such as museum practice and daily life, and the implications of the first three for our broader (...) understanding of aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Preliminary analysis of Ainu aesthetics suggests it is interested in it not only as the creation and appreciation of pleasure, but also as the creation and appreciation of meaning, of sacrality, of community, and of knowledge. These latter become especially important given the threats to Ainu culture presented first by incorporation into the Japanese polity and culture and then by modernization and commercialization. Ainu works of art, therefore, carry special significance as means of conveying to current and future generations not only the aesthetic experiences of the past, but their sacred relations, sense of community, and knowledge. This suggests new roles for arts and for museums as they strive to present the works in their full physicality to contemporary audiences, especially those of Ainu artists. (shrink)
Yasunari Kawabata’s 1952 novel The Sound of the Mountain is widely praised for its aesthetic qualities, from its adaptation of aesthetics from the Tale of Genji, through the beauty of its prose and the patterning of its images, to the references to arts and nature within the text. This article, by contrast, shows that Kawabata uses these features to demonstrate the effects of the mass trauma following the Second World War and the complicated grief it induced, on the psychology of (...) moral/ethical understanding, decision-making and action. The stream of consciousness traces the protagonist’s growing awareness of social changes and the ensuing difficulties of ethical decision-making. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that, with a few notable exceptions, Japanese literature, and especially the work of novelist Yasunari Kawabata, focuses on beauty, emotion, and psychology, and that this focus is at the expense of moral or ethical exploration.Kawabata was Japan’s first winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, so to misunderstand his work so fundamentally is not just a matter for aficionados of arcana. The mistake deprives the international reading public of an important philosophical resource for understanding the modern (...) world, the various phenomena of complicated grief, the effects of the atomic bombings and mass trauma more generally—and, yes, the postwar Japanese.1The Sound of the Mountain,2 serialized in.. (shrink)
This article explores the possible interpretations—and the implications of those interpretations—of a comment about the importance of art made by Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972), later the first Japanese Nobel laureate for literature: that “looking at old works of art is a matter of life and death.” (In 1949, Kawabata visited Hiroshima in his capacity as president of the Japan literary society P.E.N. to inspect the damage caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima that helped end World War II. On his way (...) back to his home in Kamakura, he stopped in Kyoto. He came under severe criticism for “sightseeing” at such a time. This comment was his response.) The introduction explains why we should take him seriously as a commentator on art. The body of the article examines why our looking at art might be more, not less, important after the post-War situation, the kinds of art Kawabata might have meant, why some possibilities are more likely than others, and how they differ in what they offer us and the value of art under conditions of trauma and mass trauma. (shrink)
Since World War II Japanese artists have employed two seemingly contradictory ways of working, using aesthetics, materials, artistic methods technologies, and approaches that are either radically innovative and wildly experimental, or traditional/classical. Many other artists, however, in a move that seems paradoxical. have combined the two to explore the new themes of the post-atomic period. Three narrative works dealing with the effects of the World War II war effort and the atomic bombings that ended them, Yasunari Kawabata’s novel The Sound (...) of the Mountain (1952), Rio Kishida’s avant-garde play Thread Hell (1984), and the film Barefoot Gen (Hadashi no Gen), directed by Mori Masaki and written by Keiji Nakazawa (Masaki and Nakazawa 1983), exemplify this third approach. Set in the pre-War textile industry that enabled the War, during the atomic bombings, and the post-War American Occupation, all three explore the experience not only of the horrific objective effects of war but of the Japanese experience of psychic numbing, which damages the person’s sense of self and their sense of agency—their ability to act effectively in the world. All three utilize classical aesthetics to provide aesthetic experiences, for their readers/viewers, to make the experience of the work tolerable, and for their characters—to demonstrate the roles of positive aesthetic experience in making life worth while and in grounding a renewed sense of personal identity and selfhood in a self that has been shattered through trauma. (shrink)