mono no aware –
The Integration of Pathos and Ethos in the Japanese Aesthetics by Motoori Norinaga
Application for a Philosophy of Arts in a Global World
Hamburg 2020, 136 Seiten
ISBN 978-3-339-11644-4 (Print), ISBN 978-3-339-11645-1 (eBook)
about this book
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Amongst all key concepts in Japanese aesthetics, mono no aware ranks as the broadest in meaning, often regarded as encompassing the essence of Japanese aesthetics by itself. Literally translating to ‘the pathos of things’, it generally refers to a deeply-felt emotion in the experience of the impermanent nature of the external world. This has led the expression to be associated with a vague and elusive sense of sadness.
In this book however, a more fundamental understanding of mono no aware will be presented, based on the quintessential theory of mono no aware advanced by the renowned Japanese scholar MOTOORI Norinaga (1730-1801). In his analysis of the Genji Monogatari, Norinaga carves out the original meaning of aware as cry of emotion, and, in doing so, constructs a theory that accentuates the basic aesthetic sensibility of being moved. By emphasising the importance of feeling in engagement with one’s surroundings, pathos becomes asserted as an integral part of the ethical mode of life: rather than a just an admirable sensibility, the act of valuing beauty in feeling is considered a quality of character and a source of knowledge.
Included in this work are the following: First, an overview of the embed-dedness of mono no aware in the religious and aesthetic Japanese tradition. Subsequently, the main part comparatively analyses the ontological and metaphysical character that grounds mono no aware by extracting four distinct characteristics from Norinaga’s account. Based on this comparative analysis, mono no aware will be identified in several works of modern Japanese literature and film of the 20th century.
Despite the ineffable nature of mono no aware, a conceptualisation of the term thus becomes enabled, facilitating a transcultural discourse in products of culture on a global scale.
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