Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Research Institute for Contemporary Philosophy of Life, Osaka Prefecture University


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Why and How Has Hans Jonas Been “Welcomed” in Japan?
: A Reply from Japan to LaFleur’s Interpretation

Tetsuhiko Shinagawa

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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