Heidegger and Watsuji on Community
A Philosophical Counterpoint of West and East
Keywords:community, authenticity, Heidegger, Watsuji, Nancy
This paper explores the Japanese philosopher Tetsurō Watsuji’s idea of community as an alternative to Heidegger’s thinking on “Volk”. Watsuji was so greatly influenced by Heidegger’s unique way of philosophizing using ordinary German language that he undertook an etymological analysis of the Japanese word for humans, which provided him with the central idea of his ethics, namely that human beings are individual and social at the same time. However, despite this positive response to the German philosopher, Watsuji criticized Heidegger regarding the concept of authenticity. In Watsuji’s Ethics, authenticity is not regarded as a state of isolation but as a kind of communal relationship, which he characterizes as “nonduality between the self and the other”. In his lectures in the 1930s, however, Heidegger further developed the notion of authenticity, reconsidering it as the Volk, or a “space for community” on the basis of which actual community comes forth. According to my interpretation, Watsuji’s idea of nonduality between the self and other, which serves as a primordial place for the existence of any kind of community, can help us to consider our primary coexistence in a manner different from Heidegger’s.
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