Why and How Has Hans Jonas Been “Welcomed” in Japan?
: A Reply from Japan to LaFleur’s Interpretation
Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.2, No.1 (March 2012):15-31
William R. LaFleur points out that Hans Jonas has been better received in Japan than in America.
This, according to LaFleur, was because of the surprising affinity between Jonas’s insights and
traditional Japanese ethics. This paper examines his assurance. Jonas’s insights and traditional
Japanese ethics are similar in certain ways: for example, in terms of the views on the attention paid
to children, the connection between Sein and Sollen, and the protection for future generations.
However, the bases of these views differ, and some aspects of Jonasian thought are alien to
traditional Japanese ethics: his attitude towards nature, his theology, and his idea that human beings
can “transcend” the self. Japanese readers should understand these factors in order to understand
Jonas’s thought more adequately. However, this in turn could endorse LaFleur’s idea that Jonas’
insights can be universally understood.
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