Mara Miller and Koji Yamasaki
Japanese aesthetics have impacted global arts and aesthetics through traditional, modern, and post-modern aesthetic categories (mononoaware, iki, or moe, haikyo respectively) and qualities (vagueness, spontaneity). This chapter traces accomplishments of Japanese aesthetics, analyzes their complexities, highlights some challenges to philosophy of art, and introduces some emerging aesthetics and new analyses of traditional aesthetics, including Ainu. Japanese aesthetics offer valuable opportunities for developing abilities that extend, modify, and deepen our range of emotional, sensory, and artistic feeling (joy, awareness of seasonal change, the beauty of folk arts) commonly recognized as the purview of aesthetics. They also enhance a range of cognitive skills, such as comprehending the ineffable, and strengthen social and personal skills such as expressing individuality, experiencing community, encountering the other and the land, and/or surviving atomic destruction. Sections address the unparalleled millennia-old importance of women’s gaze/voices and the interactions of aesthetics with fascism and with war.
This chapter explores the aesthetics and ethics of Kuki Shūzō (1888–1941), a poet and philosophy professor at Kyoto University. It explains Kuki’s unique phenomenological approach to philosophical analysis. It also describes Kuki’s portrayal of the aesthetic sensibility of the “Floating World” as captured by the concept of iki (いき), the aesthetic sensibility of the geisha (芸者) and patrons of the pleasure quarters of Tokyo at the end of the eighteenth century. Finally, it addresses what Kuki thought about “fate”—a concept central to the philosophy of Buddhism and bushidō (武士道; the way of the samurai)—and its related concepts of chance, necessity, possibility, and impossibility. The focus of the text is on an exposition of the links between Kuki’s work on aesthetics and chance and on the ethics he articulates through his studies.