Origuchi Shinobu’s Marebitoron in Global Perspective: A Preliminary Study
Orikuchi Shinobu (1887-1953)
Fecha de publicación
Heisig, J. W./Raud, R. (eds. 2010) Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy 7: Classical Japanese Philosophy, Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, pp. 274-304
The concept of marebito is arguably the most striking contribution made by the late kokugaku ethnologist and theorist of literature Origuchi Shinobu (1872-1953) to the history of Japanese philosophy, inspired in classical texts. Notwithstanding, his contribution has been largely ignored up to the present by historians, and the only conceivable explanation is that the term marebito itself is not a proper concept in the strict philosophical sense, but a kind of pseudo-concept, halfway between the abstract conception of a certain reality and the imaginary projection of a literary archetype, as found in classical literature. As a consequence, the concept has been appreciated by students of classical Japanese literary history, but ignored by philosophers in general, due on the one hand, to the above mentioned dependency on a certain imagery of Japanese antiquity and folklore, and on the other, to the perceived difficulty of applying it in a general sense to realities beyond the narrow confines of Japanese ethnicity. In my presentation, I develop my argument in three phases. First, I discuss the notion of marebito according to original sources in the collected works of Origuchi. His work on marebito extends from its original inception in 1923 to the finishing touches he made in 1952 and covers the whole of his academic career. The first decade is crucial in the formation of his conception. The first essays especially reveal the primary insights Origuchi draws from his own sources. His analysis traces the development of the belief in marebito through Japanese history, but there is an original prototype in association with this belief. I focus my attention on the early construction of his analysis, as the setting in which the marebito may be seen as the “other,” such as is derived from Japanese classical sources, and also as a philosophical notion worked out in Western modern philosophy. So I propose the interpretive notion of marebito-as-other. In the second phase, I analyze philosophies of the “other” synchronically on a global scale. When we focus on the moment the marebitoron was first conceived, we find that 1923 was a period of transition, a time when the need to renew cultural energies was equally felt in Europe as in Japan, and philosophies of the “other” were being shaped. This permits me to attempt a comparative analysis of these philosophies from the perspective of Origuchi’s contribution. The sources examined lead to a transcultural and transdisciplinary discussion. In the third phase, I set aside the subsequent history of the critical literature on the subject, to concentrate on three recent contributions. Discussing these works from a present-day perspective, I would suggest that not only can marebito be seen as the “other” (marebito-as-other) but that the “other” of European philosophy can profitably be interpreted as marebito (other-as-marebito).
This is the extended version with respect to the alluded publication, so that page numbers in this text may not coincide with the published version.