The Totality of Japanese Culture Essay

1348 Words 6 Pages
A. Sonzai
Sonzai is constructed from 2 words; son and zai. Son means subjective self-subsistence or sustain over time. Zai means that the subject stays in the same places in which the word “places” refers to social places which consist of human relations, such as home, hotel, inn, etc. By putting these two words together, we get sonzai (human existence) which literally means self-sustenance of human relations. Although sonzai looks similar to ningen, they are quite different. Ningen refers to capability of being an individual and at the same time also being a member of a society. To sum up, ningen is mostly explaining about a person as an individual. Sonzai emphasizes the dynamic structure of human being, such as human relations which concerns about the relationship between one individual to others. However, sonzai can be said as the interconnection of the acts of ningen as sonzai describes what a person (ningen) does to others. According to Watsuji Tetsuo, we can combine both ningen and sonzai becomes “ningen sonzai” which refers to the subject, who is at once individual and social, and to society, who are at once singular and composite (Kalmanson, 2010).

B. Individuality and Totality
Individuality refers to an individual as a single person, such as me, you, him, etc. Totality refers to a group of individuals, such as society, community, etc. Sonzai (human existence) is neither individual nor communal, but it’s combination of two. People are individuals who interact…