This section provides an overview of aesthetics as a field of Japanese philosophy. It was Nishi Amane who introduced the field of aesthetics to Japan through his 1877 work, The Theory of Aesthetics, and applied it to the organization of what could be called “the arts” in Japan. At the time, Nishi was faced with the problematics of accepting the basic Cartesian a priori that “I think, therefore I am.” René Descartes did not deny the importance that passions and feelings have in the life of human beings, but he insists that to think is definitely not to feel. This section first considers the debates on the conflict between reason and feelings before discussing the concept of kokoro (variously translated as either “heart” or “mind”). It also presents translations of a variety of texts by major Japanese philosophers on topics related to aesthetics in Japan, including Fujiwara no Shunzei, Hori Keizan, Motoori Norinaga, Kobayashi Hideo, Fujitani Mitsue, Konparu Zenchiku, Umehara Takeshi, and Izutsu Toyoko.
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