We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Artistic Detachment in Japan and the West

Psychic Distance in Comparative Aesthetics

Steve Odin

Publication Year: 2001

Artistic Detachment in Japan and the West takes up the notion of artistic detachment, or psychic distance, as an intercultural motif for East-West comparative aesthetics. The work begins with an overview of aesthetic theory in the West from the eighteenth-century empiricists to contemporary aesthetics and concludes with a survey of various critiques of psychic distance. Throughout, the author takes a highly innovative approach by juxtaposing Western aesthetic theory against Eastern (primarily Japanese) aesthetic theory. Weaving between cultures and time periods, the author focuses on a remarkably wide range of theories: in the West, the Kantian notion of disinterested contemplation, Heidegger's Gelassenheit, semiotics, and pragmatism; in Japan, Zeami's notion of riken no ken, the Kyoto School's intepretation of nothingness, D. T. Suzuki's analysis of the function of no-mind, and the writings of Kuki Shuzo on Buddhist detachment. "Portrait of the artist" fiction by such writers as Henry James, James Joyce, Mori Ogai, and Natsume Soseki demonstrates how the main theme of detachment is expressed in literary traditions. The role of sympathy or pragmatism in relation to disinterest is examined, suggesting conflicts within or challenges to the notion of detachment. Researchers and students in Eastern and Western areas of study, including philosophers and religionists, as well as literary and cultural critics, will deem this work an invaluable contribution to cross-cultural philosophy and literary studies.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (68.7 KB)
pp. vii-

I wrote this book as a 1994–1995 Fulbright scholar at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. I would especially like to thank Professor Tanaka Hideyoshi from the Aesthetics Department as well as Professors Noe Keiichi, Ano Fumio, and Numata Hiroyuki at Tohoku University for their encouragement. Many...

read more

Introduction: Artistic Detachment as an Intercultural Theme

pdf iconDownload PDF (185.4 KB)
pp. 1-24

This book takes up the notion of artistic detachment, or psychic distance, as an intercultural motif for East-West comparative aesthetics. Specifically we will examine the notion of beauty as a function of psychic distance in Western and Japanese aesthetics, including both the philosophical and the literary traditions. On the Western side...

Part One: Artistic Detachment East and West

read more

1. Artistic Detachment in Western Aesthetics

pdf iconDownload PDF (370.7 KB)
pp. 27-98

The use of “disinterestedness” or “disinterested contemplation” to describe aesthetic perception first became widespread after Immanuel Kant, who spoke of delight in beauty as that which satisfies “without interest” (ohne Interesse). But in an important series of papers Jerome Stolnitz traces the principle of disinterestedness back to what...

read more

2. Artistic Detachment in Japanese Aesthetics

pdf iconDownload PDF (386.8 KB)
pp. 99-169

The Japanese tradition of Zen aestheticism has articulated a variety of highly refined, elegant, and pervasive qualities of atmospheric beauty such as aware (sad beauty), y

read more

3. An East-West Phenomenology of the Aesthetic Attitude

pdf iconDownload PDF (258.0 KB)
pp. 170-196

In concluding Part One of the book, I want to outline a phenomenological interpretation of the aesthetic attitude of disinterested contemplation as articulated by both the Western and Japanese philosophical traditions. While the argument gradually unfolds in the course of exposition, it is worth outlining some advantages of this...

Part Two: Psychic Distance in Literature East and West

read more

4. Psychic Distance in Modern Western Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF (130.2 KB)
pp. 199-213

The problem of psychic distance as a factor in art and beauty has been explored not only in the field of academic philosophy but in modern and postmodern literature as well. The notion of psychic distance has been thematized, for example, in the “portrait of- the-artist” novel that proliferated in the late nineteenth- and early...

read more

5. Psychic Distance in Modern Japanese Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF (369.3 KB)
pp. 214-280

Whereas Nishida Kitarò (1870–1945) became the leading philosophical representative of the “modernization” process during the Meiji Restoration (1868–1912) through his attempt to synthesize Eastern and Western values, the novelists Mori Ògai (1862–1922) and Natsume Sòseki (1867–1916) were his counterparts in Japanese...


pdf iconDownload PDF (88.6 KB)
pp. 281-282


pdf iconDownload PDF (134.8 KB)
pp. 283-290

Index of Names

pdf iconDownload PDF (102.1 KB)
pp. 291-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861506
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824822118

Publication Year: 2001


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Aesthetics, European.
  • Aesthetics, Japanese.
  • Aesthetics, Comparative.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access