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National Communion: Watsuji Tetsuro's Conception of Ethics, Power, and the Japanese Imperial State

Bernard Bernier
Philosophy East and West
Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jan., 2006), pp. 84-105
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4488002
Page Count: 22
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National Communion: Watsuji Tetsuro's Conception of Ethics, Power, and the Japanese Imperial State
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Abstract

Watsuji Tetsurō defined ethics as being generated by a double negation: the individual's negation of the community and the self-negation of the individual who returns to the community. Thus, ethics for him is based on the individual's sacrifice for the collectivity. This position results in the conception of the community as an absolute. I contend that there is a congruence between Watsuji's conception of ethics as self-sacrifice and the way he perceived the Japanese political system. To him, the imperial system in Japan is based on the organic unity of the Japanese people, represented by the emperor, who embodies the general will of, and is therefore coterminous with, the Japanese nation.

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