NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ720154
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 14
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0021-8510
The Idealization of Contingency in Traditional Japanese Aesthetics
Wicks, Robert
Journal of Aesthetic Education, v39 n3 p88-101 Fall 2005
In reaction to prevailing views that characterize traditional Japanese aesthetics as an "aesthetics of imperfection and insufficiency," this essay indicates how the concept of perfection has been underthematized. To highlight the importance of perfection within this context, the author recalls the familiar principle of aesthetic complementarity and contextualizes the experiential foundations of this principle in reference to a fundamental feature of time-consciousness as described by the Zen Buddhist master Dogen (1200-53): The ever-prevent-now is a constant factor in human experience through which variable sensory contents flow. After replacing the concept of imperfection with the concept of contingency, the author notes how the complementary aesthetic relationship between perfected, idealizing, backgrounds and unpolished, contingent foregrounds corresponds to the phenomenological complementarity between the ever-present-now and the flow of time. The features of the traditional Japanese aesthetic experience are consequently seen as aesthetically expressing a basic truth about lived human experience, for the complementary aspects of temporal awareness are clearly reflected in the aesthetic experience offered by paradigmatic instances of traditional Japanese objects and situations.
University of Illinois Press, 1325 S. Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Tel: 217-333-0950; Fax: 217-244-8082; e-mail:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Japan