Japanese Thought Japanese Philosophy
The Capital City As The Space Of Thought Production
Originality, clarity, or imitation cannot serve as guiding ideas for studying Japanese thought in the first centuries of the Heian era. Japanese scholars are part of a network in which intellectuals of the past and present influence one another. Thinking insightfully is bound to a space of rivalry. This is why, very early on, the Japanese court organized carefully planned contests between its best intellectuals (Buddhists, Confucians, Nativists) for the production of an insightful intellectual space. Thus, from a Western perspective the modes of production of ideas in Japan are quite original. After the encounter with Chinese literature, one of the favored means of conceptualization became poetry. Even in the most philosophical commentaries on Buddhist teachings, poems appear in the text as unique and powerful modes of conceptualization. Later on, other written works combine poetry and prose and develop in the forms of popular tales. All these written works share in common an appeal to the senses of the readers. Ideas have to be embodied in order to be understood and to influence modes of life.
The production of ideas requires a space and that space is symbolized by the "capital city" (miyako). Protected from evil forces, that sacred and pure space allows the formation of the quintessence of Japanese thought. This is why a study of Japanese thought is bound to be a study of the representations of the city in general and of the capital city in particular. Heijo, Heian, Kamakura, Edo, Tokyo are not just names of capital cities but emblems of unique symbolic structures allowing the production of thought.
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- Japanese Thought Japanese Philosophy - The Production Of Thought: Writing As Philosophy
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