Watsuji Rinrigaku (Ethics) (和辻倫理学)

Watsuji Rinrigaku is the name of the ethical theory developed by Tetsuro WATSUJI. The theory of ethics established by Watsuji was based on the study of the history of Japanese thought, and is a body of philosophy unique to the Japanese, together with Kitaro NISHIDA's Nishida philosophy.

Watsuji's books on ethics can be roughly divided into two categories.

Books on theory

Books in this category refer to the philosophy of Heidegger and Kitaro NISHIDA and affirm the concept of 'connection' that is the universal basis of ethics.

"Ningen no gaku to shite no rinrigaku" (Ethics as the Study of Man)

"Rinrigaku" (Ethics), is comprised of three volumes (the revised version has two volumes; the Iwanami Bunko version has four volumes)

Books on interpretation

In this category, he applied the concept of 'connection', described in books on theory, to the history of Japanese thought in an attempt to justify Japanese ethics within a specific context. He diligently analyzed the texts covering the periods between the ancient "Kojiki", the "Nihonshoki" as well as the study of Japanese classical literature during the Edo Period with this method of interpretation.

"Nihon kodai bunka" (Ancient Japanese Culture)

"Nihon seishinshi kenkyu" (A Study of the History of the Japanese Spirit)

"Sonno shiso to sono dento" (The Idea of Reverence for the Emperor and the Imperial Tradition)

"Nihon rinri shisoshi" (History of Japanese Ethical Thought)

One characteristic of Watsuji Rinrigaku is that the two levels described above are blended together so that the ethics that were pursued as theory were harmonized with a specific history.

Along with this characteristic is the concern that it will result in the statement that Japan is the most ethical community.

In other words, the purpose of Watsuji Rinrigaku was to understand the true state of real life by way of interpretation rather than simply constructing a new concept. That is, Watsuji defined rinri (ethics) as 'the basis of existence of human community, or the law of human beings' (on "Rinrigaku").

[Original Japanese]