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The Creation Of The Vocabulary Of Aesthetics In Meiji Japan

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Chapter Summary

The formation in Japan of the notion of the "fine arts" in the Western sense of the word took place during the early Meiji period at the same time that the idea of "beauty" underwent a massive redefinition. The word "beauty" coming from the West together with an arsenal of concepts belonging to the field of aesthetics forced the Japanese intelligentsia to rethink their cultural heritage in terms of Western ideas. The vocabulary of aesthetics began to be standardized around the basic notion of the "fine arts" (bijutsu), Ōtsuka contributed to the stabilization of a field which in Japan had been in flux for over thirty years, by reminding his readers that aesthetics could not be separated from the empirical objects of its study: the actual works of art which the newly established scholar known as the "aesthetician" was asked to discuss in philosophical terms.

Keywords: aesthetics; Japan; Meiji period; vocabulary

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