From Okakura, he gained much of his fascination for aesthetics and perhaps foreign languages, as indeed his fascination with the peculiar cultural codes of the pleasure quarters of Japan owes something to the fact that his mother had once been a geisha. The idealism and introspection implied by this decision were early evidence of issues which would have resonance in the characteristic mindset of the mature man. In this work he undertakes to make a phenomenological analysis of iki , a variety of chic culture current among the fashionable set in Edo in the Tokugawa period , and asserted that it constituted one of the essential values of Japanese culture. Kuki took up a teaching post at Kyoto University , then a prominent center for conservative cultural values and thinking.
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In this book, Kuki discusses the nature of the quintessentially Edo aesthetic sensibility of iki, that a sense of urbane, plucky stylishness of living, which was forged in the late s in Edo a city now known as Tokyo. Kuki also provides an analysis and definition of the sensibility of iki using philosophical idioms he acquired in Europe during his eight years of study there beginning in In the conclusion of this book, Kuki proposes that iki represents the core of the Japanese people and encourages the reader to keep alive this old aesthetic sensitivity of iki.
What is then iki? Iki embodies some elements that are similar to the sensibility of dandyism, which developed in the late eighteenth century and nineteenth century in Europe. Perhaps the most renowned example of such a dandy was the French poet, essayist and art critic Charles Baudelaire Dandies rejected bourgeois life style and pretended they had connections to aristocracy when in fact they had none.
They were elegant, arrogant, and socially irresponsible. Dandyism had tacit codes of dress and behavior, a symbol of decadence and the trademark of men who were socially indolent. Iki was different. In contrast to dandies who were politically and sexually inert, Iki signified sensibilities essential in a man or a woman who was in a pursuit of conquering the opposite sex.
Kuki Shūzō: A Man Burdened with Modernity and Tradition
He stayed in Europe for nearly 7 years until returning to Japan in January of There is a theory that Sartre was introduced to the phenomenology, which was a new trend in Germany thinking, through KUKI. After returning to Japan, he lectured on French philosophy. Rhyming of Japanese poems written in his later years, KUKI includes some of his own poems, written during his time in Paris, as examples in the appendix.
La struttura dell’iki
The Philosophy of the Kyoto School. The main purpose of this book is to offer to philosophers and students abroad who show a great interest in Japanese philosophy and the philosophy of the Kyoto school major texts of the leading philosophers. This interest has surely developed out of a desire to obtain from the thought of these philosophers, who stood within the interstice between East and West, a clue to reassessing the issues of philosophy The present condition seems to be, however, that the material made available to further realize this kind of intellectual dialogue is far too scarce.