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Old 07-01-2009, 09:25 PM   #51
Buck
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
Philip, not all Japanese believe they are a unique species. I wish you'd stop writing as if they do. It comes across as offensive towards a lot of people.
ummmm......I think you are posting to the wrong person.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:49 PM   #52
Buck
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Re: Nihonjinron

I see the problem, I should have said, "Mary disagrees with me." Now do you or don't you disagree with me, I am not sure.

To get ahead start:


If you disagree with me that I am observing Nihonjinron and it doesn't effect my training or my life, and I have no strong feelings either way, and respect the Japanese as a culture, and think in some ways they are superior i.e. Toyota cars over Fords. And there must be some positive aspects about Nihonjinron. I like to look at both sides of the coin. Ron always disagrees with me.. But when does Ron ever agree with me? That is what he does, I guess. I respect that. And don't take it personally, or react emotionally or irrationally to his comments, that's just me. That is all I was saying that you and Ron disagree with me. And that is fine.

If you agree, fine.

Either way, I have read western critics of Nihonjinron. And, I have read Japanese authors who are supporters of Nihonjinron. All -n- all maybe 5 things on Nihonjinron. Its not allot. Because I am not an expert on Nihonjinron am not arguing anything.

In terms of Nihonjinron, I don't know of any culture who doesn't think they are superior to others, at some point. That is my opinon. You are welcome to agree or disagree.

Last edited by Buck : 07-01-2009 at 09:54 PM.
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Old 07-01-2009, 11:15 PM   #53
Rennis Buchner
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Re: Nihonjinron

Nihonjinron is one of those somewhat difficult to define things, although Ron's post showing 5 general characteristics is a decent enough rough benchmark. In general the idea that gets under many people's skin is that Nihonjinron goes beyond mere pride in one's culture, etc, and heads into the realms of "only Japan does this and no where else in the world can this be found or even understood" territory. Yes most people generally find their own culture to be superior, but the "proof" given in many Nihonjinron arguments is often demonstrably false. In the worst cases, many of the ideas pushed as a "praising Japanese culture" ring of white-supremacists claiming their views are merely a "celebration of white European culture". Anyways, for the record, I have read Western academic authors who have approached the term in a non-negative fashion as well, so your arguments of it being a Western (implied bashing) vs Japan thing ring false. Indeed some of the early major players in pushing the idea were Westerners writing about Japan. The problem I think many have with the idea, regardless of it positive and negative aspects, is that, while starting as an innocent enough attempt to define the main cultural values, ideas, mainstays of Japan, the idea as a whole has basically become an extremist view of a culture, which doesn't really lend itself to a fair, balanced, in depth or accurate reflection of how the culture really is. Like most forms of extremism, there are plenty of grains of truth and facts in there. It is the leaps of logic taken with those that make it a questionable window through which to view and judge a culture (or Japan's culture in this case).
This is different that just having pride in one's culture and prefering it to others.

I thought I wasn't going to get involved in this anymore?
Rennis Buchner
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:58 AM   #54
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
I see the problem, I should have said, "Mary disagrees with me." Now do you or don't you disagree with me, I am not sure.
Philip...there's this thing in human communications called "context". It means that, absent strong cues otherwise, people tend to think that information presented as a unit is all somehow related. If you restate several of your opinions, and then in the same paragraph make the statement "Mary disagrees with that", or the statement "Mary disagrees with me", context indicates to the reader that you believe that I disagree with what preceded the statement. It doesn't matter if you use the word "that", it doesn't matter if you use the word "me", it's all the same.

You seem genuinely confused at my and others' interpretations of what you are saying, and perhaps this is the reason why: because, as you write, your thoughts are running faster than you can type (a common problem, we all have it) and you're not slowing down enough to provide the structure and context to make your written communication clear. You know that you've moved on and that you're talking about something else altogether when you say "Mary disagrees with me/that", but as I look at the structure of what you have written -- and remember, that's all I have to go on -- I make a reasonable interpretation based on context, and derive a very different meaning from your communication. If you want to strive for clarity in communication, you can't ignore structure and you can't ignore context.
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:53 AM   #55
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
.... I like to look at both sides of the coin.... I have read western critics of Nihonjinron. And, I have read Japanese authors who are supporters of Nihonjinron. All -n- all maybe 5 things on Nihonjinron. Its not allot. Because I am not an expert on Nihonjinron [i] am not arguing anything. ...
Well, Buck, it's true you aren't being argumentative. You are, however, giving a description of a phenomenon. It's that description people are taking issue with.

It's like saying, "I found this quarter on the sidewalk, let me describe both sides of it," to which a number of people say, "that's not a coin, it's a subway token."

To which you respond, "I'm not arguing, I'm just describing this coin I found. Feel free to disagree with my opinion that we shouldn't argue about the coin."

I kept wanting to ask you earlier how Nihonjiron affected your life or practice. Now I read that it doesn't affect you. So why is it important for you to understand?

regards,
cdh
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:35 AM   #56
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Re: Nihonjinron

No, I'm posting to you, that's why I quoted your post.

Reading Mary's post about context and rereading your post, I see that I MIGHT have misunderstood your comments, but it's still unclear.

You wrote:

"if I was Japanese. I do think the Japanese are unique, just as the rest of the other cultures on earth. Being unique like a finger print, doesn't mean they are not human, or that they can't have similarities to other cultures, or influences from other countries. I don't think it is an issue for me if they disagree with that. That is their right."

Who are "they"?

The "Japanese", or some other group?
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Old 07-02-2009, 11:40 AM   #57
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Nihonjinron

Hi Phil,
No need to agree. Not even a little bit.

As others have already pointed out, the issue seems to be one of communication skills. FWIW.

Best,
Ron

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Ron,

Since I rarely agree with what you say on many things you reply to me.

Ron Tisdale
-----------------------
"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 07-02-2009, 01:16 PM   #58
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
No, I'm posting to you, that's why I quoted your post.

Reading Mary's post about context and rereading your post, I see that I MIGHT have misunderstood your comments, but it's still unclear.

You wrote:

"if I was Japanese. I do think the Japanese are unique, just as the rest of the other cultures on earth. Being unique like a finger print, doesn't mean they are not human, or that they can't have similarities to other cultures, or influences from other countries. I don't think it is an issue for me if they disagree with that. That is their right."

Who are "they"?

The "Japanese", or some other group?
Respectfully, i don't see how "they" could refer to anyone other than the Japanese in general. If I'm not mistaken, he seems to say the Japanese culture, generally speaking, is unique, but that while being unique they also share many of the same traits as any other culture...like Aikido is a unique art filled with things found in other arts. I could be wrong, of course, in which case I beg your pardon.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 07-02-2009, 05:49 PM   #59
oisin bourke
 
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
Respectfully, i don't see how "they" could refer to anyone other than the Japanese in general. If I'm not mistaken, he seems to say the Japanese culture, generally speaking, is unique, but that while being unique they also share many of the same traits as any other culture...like Aikido is a unique art filled with things found in other arts. I could be wrong, of course, in which case I beg your pardon.
OK, so "They" (ie the 130 million or so Japanese) disagree with Philip's comment that they are not uniquely different?

Does that mean that the Japanese (all of them) regard themselves as uniquely different?

Painting with a fairly large brush, no? However, maybe I'm reading him wrong and he can clear up what he meant.
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:44 PM   #60
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
Oisin Bourke wrote: View Post
OK, so "They" (ie the 130 million or so Japanese) disagree with Philip's comment that they are not uniquely different?

Does that mean that the Japanese (all of them) regard themselves as uniquely different?

Painting with a fairly large brush, no? However, maybe I'm reading him wrong and he can clear up what he meant.
My guess based on what makes sense to me:
Quote:
I don't think it is an issue for me if [Japanese people] disagree with that.
Definately painting with a large brush in my opinion...and I probably shouldn't have tried to speak for someone else. My appologies.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:26 PM   #61
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Re: Nihonjinron

Sorry, I see what I did now. I need more sleep. Switching back to casual observer mode so I can stop muddying things up further...
take care,
matt

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Old 07-02-2009, 10:37 PM   #62
Buck
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
Rennis Buchner wrote: View Post
Nihonjinron. In general the idea that gets under many people's skin is that Nihonjinron goes beyond mere pride in one's culture, etc, and heads into the realms of "only Japan does this and no where else in the world can this be found or even understood" territory.

Yes most people generally find their own culture to be superior, but the "proof" given in many Nihonjinron arguments is often demonstrably false. In the worst cases, many of the ideas pushed as a "praising Japanese culture" ring of white-supremacists claiming their views are merely a "celebration of white European culture".
First of all, I am glad you took the time post. Here are my comments. If a person says, they feel Japanese are unique (refering to the culture in general sociological and anthropological terms, the way most people do generally.) there are those who will make assumptions and jump to conclusions that person is using the word "unique" to support those who feel the Japanese are being supremacists, much like white-supremacists. Rather than like myself who is taking the word "unique" to be defined in the common terms which has no connection to supremacy as use by supremascists. Rather, (being) distinctively characteristic of only one person, group, or thing. In this case, in culture, way of life, etc.

I have never experienced that from those Japanese I have had known, so I am unaware of that. I have noticed they have pride in their culture, but not more then anyone else. This has been my experience. This simply means I have not experienced what you discribed. Though, I have read parts of Yukio Mishima, and read things about him, but I have not seen that extermism with those I have known. Also, I know the Japanese where a major player in WWII and what got them into the war. Those I know support the idea, they lost the war, but won the peace type of thing.

Because of the attitude you describe by some western writers who liken the Japanese pride (Nihonjinron) to be equal to white-supremacy does that have any basis on the writing of authors such as Mishima, and for the reasons for Japan to be major players in WII? Honestly, it sounds like the criticism of Gregory and other westerners is an extreme. I don't hear that type of criticisms like from those western writers in Aikido, or other Japanese cultural things like that in the US. I don't think I ever experienced, at least that I am aware of, Nihonjinron in Aikido, other Japanese cultural things, or from those I know. Again, I don' t live in Japan where it might be a different story. I don't know.

Quote:
Anyways, for the record, I have read Western academic authors who have approached the term in a non-negative fashion as well, so your arguments of it being a Western (implied bashing) vs Japan thing ring false.
FWIW, I was stating that I have read things that discuss both sides. I look a both sides of the coin, not arguing or judging or anything like that. I don't know enough about the arguements make for or against Nihonjinron. I don't know much about Nihonjinron. Point is, I know that am aware that there are arguements on both sides. I don't take sides because there is no reason for me to do so.

Quote:
Indeed some of the early major players in pushing the idea were Westerners writing about Japan. The problem I think many have with the idea, regardless of it positive and negative aspects, is that, while starting as an innocent enough attempt to define the main cultural values, ideas, mainstays of Japan, the idea as a whole has basically become an extremist view of a culture, which doesn't really lend itself to a fair, balanced, in depth or accurate reflection of how the culture really is. Like most forms of extremism, there are plenty of grains of truth and facts in there. It is the leaps of logic taken with those that make it a questionable window through which to view and judge a culture (or Japan's culture in this case).
This is different that just having pride in one's culture and prefering it to others.
So, the Japanese are extermists that don't look at their culture in a balance, fair, in depth, or accurate reflection. Oh wait, that sounds like our polititians, political parties, politics and the media .

It's true that some Western writers helped advocate the idea of Nihonjinron. Then there are western writers in their criticisms who liken the Japanese to white-supremacists. I hope then that someone who isn't on board with either views isn't singled out and well.....you know, what us westerners do in these cases, history tells us that loud and clear. I am starting to see better what is going on here.

And then it is true Japan's extereme view of its self is different than from how other cultures see themselves according to western writers and those who support these writers' views?

A very good and informative post, that really clears things up. I am glad you posted. Thanks.

Last edited by Buck : 07-02-2009 at 10:41 PM.
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:23 AM   #63
C. David Henderson
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
... If a person says, they feel Japanese are unique (refering to the culture in general sociological and anthropological terms, the way most people do generally.)
Most people use general sociological and anthropological terms?

Generally, reputable sociologists and anthropologists would question a theory that proceeded by suggesting that "Japanese culture" is a monolithic entity with uniform distribution. The burden of proof would be on anyone who suggested -- as you have and continue to do -- that a tradition like nihonjiron was widespread enough to justify speaking, not of its particular adherants, but in terms of an entire modern nation.

People who do talk this way are political ideologues.

Quote:
there are those who will make assumptions and jump to conclusions that person is using the word "unique" to support those who feel the Japanese are being supremacists, much like white-supremacists.
But this is a straw man. Rennis has described the range of beliefs associated with nihonjiron, and makes it clear that the terms is not always but often associated with extreme right-wing views.

Quote:
Rather than like myself who is taking the word "unique" to be defined in the common terms which has no connection to supremacy as use by supremascists. Rather, (being) distinctively characteristic of only one person, group, or thing. In this case, in culture, way of life, etc.
First, you've utterly failed to make the case that Nihonjiron is characteristic of the group you identify (the "Japanese.") In fact, you've denied this is what you mean even as you keep repeating the idea that it is what you mean.

Second, "every snowflake is unique," right? Why is this a distinction that makes a difference especially since:

Quote:
I have not experienced what you discribed. Though, I have read parts of Yukio Mishima, and read things about him, but I have not seen that extermism with those I have known.
Moreover,
Quote:
I don't hear that type of criticisms like from those western writers in Aikido, or other Japanese cultural things like that in the US. I don't think I ever experienced, at least that I am aware of, Nihonjinron in Aikido, other Japanese cultural things, or from those I know.
So it's not characteristic of the Japanese, from your own experience? Why not talk about it in terms of "those Japanese who" then?

Again you say:

Quote:
I look a both sides of the coin, not arguing or judging or anything like that. I don't know enough about the [arguments made] for or against Nihonjinron. I don't know much about Nihonjinron. Point is, I know that am aware that there are [arguments] on both sides. I don't take sides because there is no reason for me to do so.
Never mind that its only a subway token -- what arguments exist "for" the idea that only Japan has four real seasons? That only a Japanese person could master an art well enough to recieve a teaching certificate? That the Japanese are a homogenous racial and cultural group?

Quote:
So, the Japanese are extermists that don't look at their culture in a balance, fair, in depth, or accurate reflection. Oh wait, that sounds like our polititians, political parties, politics and the media .
That only follows if someone takes your intellectual shortcut and asserts that Nihonjiron characterizes "the Japanese" generally. That's why some find your generalization "offensive." That's why we have been arguing with you, even if you don't really engage with the point we are making to you.

Quote:
I hope then that someone who isn't on board with either views isn't singled out and well.....you know, what us westerners do in these cases, history tells us that loud and clear. I am starting to see better what is going on here.
GIGO. Unexamined premise, unreliable conclusion.

Quote:
A very good and informative post, that really clears things up. I am glad you posted. Thanks.
Ironically, it should have.

cdh
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:13 AM   #64
Buck
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Re: Nihonjinron

Quote:
David Henderson wrote: View Post
Most people use general sociological and anthropological terms?
No, I am pointing out my use of the word "unique" is not referring to supremacists.

Generally, reputable sociologists and anthropologists would question a theory that proceeded by suggesting that "Japanese culture" is a monolithic entity with uniform distribution. The burden of proof would be on anyone who suggested -- as you have and continue to do -- that a tradition like nihonjiron was widespread enough to justify speaking, not of its particular adherants, but in terms of an entire modern nation.

Well if you think so. But, I guess, I messed up assuming too much from some people reading this thread, and their sensitivities. Opps.

Quote:
People who do talk this way are political ideologues.
I guess the smilely "" didn't work. I was just being light and jovial.

Quote:
But this is a straw man. Rennis has described the range of beliefs associated with nihonjiron, and makes it clear that the terms is not always but often associated with extreme right-wing views.

First, you've utterly failed to make the case that Nihonjiron is characteristic of the group you identify (the "Japanese.") In fact, you've denied this is what you mean even as you keep repeating the idea that it is what you mean.

Second, "every snowflake is unique," right? Why is this a distinction that makes a difference especially since:

Moreover,

So it's not characteristic of the Japanese, from your own experience? Why not talk about it in terms of "those Japanese who" then?

Again you say:

Never mind that its only a subway token -- what arguments exist "for" the idea that only Japan has four real seasons? That only a Japanese person could master an art well enough to recieve a teaching certificate? That the Japanese are a homogenous racial and cultural group?

That only follows if someone takes your intellectual shortcut and asserts that Nihonjiron characterizes "the Japanese" generally. That's why some find your generalization "offensive." That's why we have been arguing with you, even if you don't really engage with the point we are making to you.

GIGO. Unexamined premise, unreliable conclusion.

Ironically, it should have.

cdh
Wow,, I was just making observation and comments, not a formal argument for or against. As I've said, I am not an expert on Nihonjinron. I respect other peoples and their way of life, I have never experienced or been on the receiving end of Nihonjinron. But, it seems there is allot of people who feel Nihonjinron is a very bad and ugly thing. I was not aware it was such a sensitive issue for allot of people from what I am getting here.

Well, I will plainly say, regardless of what others think or feel on this subject. I have no feeling about taking sides on the issue, and it doesn't effect me or my training. Thus, naturally, I don't subscribe to it, or condemn it- it is something not important to me.

I want to thank everyone making me aware of the sensitivity that is associated with Nihonjinron for some. It has been very educational.

From this experience of this thread I can say, Nihonjinron -generally at its bare bones- seems not to be uniquely ( not in the racism terms it has been associated in some circles) associated to one people. It seems it is something other people can feel so strongly about. I must be very careful in my discussions.

At this time, the bulk of this thread is verging to becoming OT. Plus, it seems to be a very sensitive subject for many, which I didn't quickly realize- my bad. In this case, I will not continue to respond unless something really interesting etc. comes up. In this way. I want to rub people the wrong way making this a highly charged and emotional subject, indicated by some that it is such. That is not my purpose here.

Again, thanks to everyone, and again I apologize for not being aware of the sensitive issue of Nihonjinron that is for some. I have enjoyed reading the responses, all of them, especially those that point out all that stuff, I didn't know or was aware of. It has helped me out the next time I approach the subject of Nihonjinron.

Happy Independence day to all!

In civility tact, and diplomacy and a very healthy dollop of respect,

Phil.

Last edited by Buck : 07-03-2009 at 09:27 AM.
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