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Japanese Environmental Philosophy$
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J. Baird Callicott and James McRae

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190456320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456320.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 01 December 2021

Climate Change as Existentialist Threat

Climate Change as Existentialist Threat

Watsuji, Greimas, and the Nature of Opposites

Chapter:
(p.105) Chapter 6 Climate Change as Existentialist Threat
Source:
Japanese Environmental Philosophy
Author(s):

Steve Bein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456320.003.0007

Watsuji Tetsurō’s models of ningen sonzai (人‎間‎存‎在‎), fūdo (風‎土‎), and seken (世‎間‎) help us to make sense of why climate change is not merely an existential threat but also an existentialist one: it threatens our mode of being-in-the-world. The semiotic squares developed by Algirdas Julien Greimas, draw the distinction between two types of opposites: antithesis (where X and anti-X annihilate each other) and countermeasure (where X and counter-X push and pull against each other in the act of self-becoming). The human drives toward individualism (nin) and collectivism (gen) are each other’s countermeasure, just as humanity’s existence in and expansion through the lived world (fūdo風‎土‎) plays the role of countermeasure to the lived world itself. Climate change is an existentialist threat because even by the most conservative estimates, it threatens to topple all of those carefully counterbalanced relationships.

Keywords:   Watsuji Tetsuro, ningen, fūdo, seken, Algirdas Julien Greimas, semiotics

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