Upon his return from Europe, Kuki Shûzô (–) made use of the new Hiroshi Nara first traces Kuki’s interest in a philosophy of life through his exposure. The Structure of Detachment: The Aesthetic Vision of Kuki Shuzo. HIROSHI NARA. with a translation of Iki no kōzō. J. Thomas Rimer. Jon Mark Mikkelsen. Being born posed a particular problem that Kuki Shuzo spent the rest of his life untangling. The fateful event occurred in Tokyo on February

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The dream represents a phenomenon that is linked to knowledge, a knowledge that is thought within a certain “hierarchy of dreams. Why to his parents and why in Japan, as opposed to France, Egypt, or perhaps America?

Kuki Shuzo: A Philosopher’s Poetry and Poetics

Kuki is looking, then, for a new concept of time that should be linked to contingency. It has become clear so far that this ambition needs to be interpreted within the context of a certain fractured relationship with Aristotelian philosophy. If all human action would take place in a world in which everything is absolutely necessary, then it would of course become absurd to talk about moral questions at all: Included in this volume are these Paris poems as well as other verses that Kuki appended to a long essay on poetry, Rhymes in Japanese Poetry, written in Kuki uses phenomenology to apprehend a singularly Japanese sensibility, one that he feels foreigners can scarce understand—attempting a grand theory through an unabashedly personal lens.

While determinism can be realized on an abstract level, a contingency that is supposed to reside in the real world reminds us of the limits of science.

Before he returns to Japan, Kuki begins a treatise on an idea that has become dear, something that could finally mark the exact distance between himself and his adopted European milieu, that resolves the native Japaneseness, the restlessness, he carries with him.

A philosophy of contingency does not simply see “what there is” but forces itself to be surprised at what it can trace back to nothing other than contingency. One could say that the definition of “habit” draws a line of separation between “spiritualist positivism” and the ahuzo positivism from which these French philosophers were striving to distinguish themselves.


As a single Japanese man within an encompassing “white” or non-Japanese society, he considered the extent to which he became a being who lacked necessity.

Shūzō Kuki – Wikipedia

Certainly, in some way, the fact that Kuki referred, in Iki no kozo, to “hermeneutics” makes us inclined to push his reflections in the direction of Platonism: In23 years old, he decides to convert to Catholicism. He never returns to Europe. All translations from the French and German here are my own. Sunshine rated it it was amazing Mar 04, Steven Chang marked it as to-read Sep 12, The aesthetic or existential intuition whose instances would be identical with Aristotle’s prime matter would be “Oriental,” whereas an abstract, logical, and formal intuition would be representative of the Western, Platonic philosophy.

The negation of a necessary proposition therefore expresses the possibility of its contradictory: During his eight years studying in Europe in the s, Kuki spent time in Paris, where he wrote several collections of poetry and many short poems in shyzo tanka style.

In a similar way Emile Boutroux, in De La Contingence des lois de la nature, attacks a ahuzo principle of science that up to that time had been defended in France by determinist philosophers like Hippolyte-Adolphe Taine: Kuki Shuzoone of Japan’s most original thinkers of the twentieth century, is best known for his interpretations of Western Continental philosophy. In the essay, analytical abstraction gives way to pure sensation only to veer shzuo into abstraction. He documents the passing moments in short, melancholic poems that he submits to journals back in Japan under the alias S.

Kuki must have suspected a certain affinity among these philosophers. Nishida eventually argues that the particular qualities of Japanese Zen, even its peacefulness, may have to be defended by military force.

Kuki Shūzō (Author of Reflections on Japanese Taste)

Kuki suffered no more trauma than such an occasion usually entails—the problem was that it happened in the first place. Boutroux surmounts an idealistic and schematic conception that had been imposed on science and philosophy in France, especially by Antoine Auguste Cournot. Boutroux provides a useful contrast when he shows that a certain interest in contingency is incompatible with certain Aristotelian “existentialist” tendencies: Against this background it might appear amazing that Kuki presents his own notion of time by alluding so extensively to Western authors.


He is struck by the sudden possibility of other lives, all the people he could have been besides the patrician academic that he is, ambivalently married; tall and wire-thin, with an elongated face, beakish nose under round glasses, and perennially pursed lips; dressed in crisp western suits that, though expensive, feel superficial, like a costume.

During his time as a professor at Imperial University of Kyoto, it’s said that he travelled to lectures from the popular entertainment area of geisha establishments Gion in a rickshaw, however he also seemingly acted like a playboy in Paris, and left behind suggestive poems such as “Your blonde hair that you take such care of, reflects the lamplight, what a happy bedroom.

A sudden, implacable attack of fever and cough like a spring cold—on April 10,Kuki is hospitalized and diagnosed with peritonitis, an inflammation of the tissue covering the abdominal organs. Rather than seeking spaces of sympathetic ambivalence—the committed cosmopolitanism of Kuki’s life and the sensual uncertainties of iki that he makes clear—difference seems to be the only thing that matters.

Although in the largest part of his study on contingency Kuki interprets contingency as the contrary of necessity, he points also, in the last third of his book, to the importance of examining the relationship between contingency and possibility.

Kuki sees “contingency in reality,” which refers him to possible realities that are not present although they still do form reality. In this work he undertakes to make a phenomenological analysis of ikia variety of chic culture current among the fashionable set in Edo in the Tokugawa periodand asserted that it constituted one of the essential values of Japanese culture.

Other Photos Add photo. When Bergson proposed what Kuki calls “metaphysical intuition,” this abstract or empty form of intuition replaced the Christian mystical and religious form of intuition, which is outspokenly nonabstract and imaginative and which might probably have appeared as strange and only vaguely understandable to the Japanese.