Who is Tetsuro Watsuji?June 26, 2021
He was a Japanese historian and philosopher who lived from March 1, 1889 to December 26, 1960.
Born in Himeji, Japan, Watsuji read leading poets of Western literature in his youth and became interested in poetry. This curiosity led him to become an editor for a magazine, and he found himself writing plays and poems for that magazine.
Watsuji, who became interested in philosophy during his high school years, began to read Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, and then introduced these philosophers to the philosophy community in Japan in his own words.
“The only real moral choice of the individual is to sacrifice himself for society.”
Watsuji, one of the leading philosophers of Japan at the beginning of the 20th century, studied and produced both Eastern and Western philosophy. He was educated in Japan and Europe. Like many Japanese philosophers of his time, his works exhibit a creative synthesis of these two very different traditions.
Watsuji’s studies of Western approaches to ethics convinced him that thinkers in the West preferred an individual approach to human nature and ethics. However, according to Watsuji, individuals can only be understood by their expressions in their unique times, relationships, and social contexts, all of which together form an “environment”. He explores human nature in terms of our relations with the wider society that forms the web in which we exist, and calls this “in-betweenness”.
For Watsuji, ethics is not a matter of individual action, but of forgetting or sacrificing one’s self; only then can the individual work for the benefit of the wider society. Watsuji’s nationalist ethic and insistence on the supremacy of the Japanese race It fell out of favor during World War II, but later moved away from these ideas.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook