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Japan's Frames of MeaningA Hermeneutics Reader$
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Michael F. Marra

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834609

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834609.001.0001

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The Japanese Language and the Question of Philosophy

(p.51) Chapter Two Koto
Japan's Frames of Meaning

Watsuji Tetsurō

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines, from the perspective of intellectual history, the interpretation of a fundamental aspect of the spiritual activity of an ethnicity via the Japanese language. This enquiry is premised on the fact that an intellectually historical world that must be approached through understanding is expressed by a genuine language. As Wilhelm von Humboldt pointed out, the spiritual peculiarities of an ethnicity and linguistic formations are intimately connected: if one is given, the other can be sufficiently derived from it. The question of specificity was an object of great interest to Humboldt, who made “linguistic differences” the theme of his linguistic research. According to him, language was the outside appearance of the spirit of a people. The question of specificity was inevitably connected with the metaphysics of history.

Keywords:   Japanese language, ethnicity, intellectual history, Wilhelm von Humboldt, linguistic differences, specificity

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