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Poetry and Poetics in Tension: Kuki Shūzō’s French and German Connections

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Chapter Summary

Kuki Shūzō (1888-1941), one of Japan's most original thinkers of the twentieth century, has been the object of divided critical evaluations since the time he published a work that was destined to make him a truly popular philosopher, rather than simply an academic one: Iki no Kōzō. This chapter addresses Kuki's connections with French and German philosophies in relation to his poetry and his essays on poetry. It points out how the tension between poetry and poetics in Kuki's production and discussion of poetry is related to his eclectic attempt to create a philosophy which incorporates philosophical elements that, far from being integrated in a cohesive unity, stand in striking opposition to each other, bringing each other into sets of mutual contradictions. Kuki's poetry challenges all the major themes of metaphysics sustaining Western thought: necessity, causality, the primacy of identity, sameness, and completion.

Keywords: French philosophy; German philosophy; Japan; Kuki Shūzō



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