Hedonism and Mono no Aware

Nothing this week.







The development of a Hedonistic perspective in Tokugawa Japan may have come due to the merchants’ increased frustration by their inability to move up in life, regardless of their wealth (Lecture 2/21).  I believe the realization of their limitations in life led to an embracing of mono no aware.  As a result, they took to indulging in a Hedonistic approach. In the West, we have a very negative view of Hedonism.  However, if we embrace evanescence and understand that just about everything is out of our control, we may come to a realization: “we all suck” (Lecture 2/20).  Therefore, if we all suck, then what do we have to lose?  Why would we not simply embrace our suck-i-ness and pursue what makes us happy for the moment?  Both, mono no aware and Hedonism are captured in Saikaku’s “The woman who loved love.”  After a life of pursuing pleasure, she reflects on her life and states, “soon my unmourned life will vanish with the dew” (Saikaku, 172).  This is, by all accounts, a very sad story.  However, there is beauty in the sadness we experience (mono no aware).  This is the same sadness that has been embedded into Japanese culture.  It is the type of sadness we experience when we have a “tasteful admission of one’s powerlessness” (Inouye, 86).  I find the development of the Hedonistic perspective in Japan very interesting and can definitely see myself taking a similar approach.  Over the years, I have experienced various tragedies (i.e.: the loss of a loved one) that revealed the limitation of my control in this world.  Needless to say, these experiences were very difficult to deal with.  However, they did lead me to reflect and think about what I value in life.

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