The Metaphysical Element of the East
Although in recent times phrases like “Eastern culture” and “Eastern spirit” have been conspicuously promoted, the semantic content of these phrases appears to be diverse and lacking uniformity, varying according to the intentions and underlying motives of those employing them. There are cases in which, out of a situational consciousness related to recent events [wars] or an ethnic consciousness, these phrases are recited like slogans or headlines in order to control and uplift the hearts and minds of the general public via group psychology; cases in which they are used to describe a project assigned to the East in the sense that we in the East must create in the future some sort of a distinct culture, different from the West; cases in which they are employed in a historical context in an effort to obtain comprehensive knowledge of extant cultural facts belonging to the East; and cases in which they are employed in the philosophy of culture in an effort to go beyond simply knowing these elements, extract from them those that are particularly distinct from the West, and investigate their characteristics, foundations, and even their value. It thus follows that even though in all cases they invoke Eastern culture, the focus of interest and approach taken are distinct. For my part I would like to proceed in this essay by focusing on the question of what it is that the culture particularly characterized as “Eastern” in contrast to the culture of the West is based upon.