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Buildings  2013 

Fudo: An East Asian Notion of Climate and Sustainability

DOI: 10.3390/buildings3030588

Keywords: Tetsuro Watsuji, fudo, climate, the inter-personal, sustainability, cross-ventilation, japanese residential architecture

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Abstract:

My paper discusses an East Asian notion of climate and its significance for sustainability. A particular reference is the environmental philosophy of Tetsuro Watsuji (1889–1960), a Japanese philosopher who reflected upon the meaning of climate, or “ fudo” in the Sino-Japanese linguistic tradition. Watsuji sees fudo not merely as a collection of natural features—climatic, scenic, and topographical—of a given land, but also as the metaphor of subjectivity, or “who I am”. Furthermore, this self-discovery through fudo is never private but collective. By referring to a phenomenological notion of “ ek-sistere”, or “to be out among other ‘I’s”, Watsuji demonstrates the pervasiveness of a climatic phenomenon and the ensuing inter-personal joining of different individuals to shape a collective sustainable measure in response to the phenomenon. My paper lastly concretizes the significance of fudo and its inter-personal ethical basis for sustainability by dwelling upon cross-ventilation in Japanese vernacular residential architecture. Cross-ventilation emerges only through what Watsuji calls “selfless openness” between different rooms predicated upon the joining of different ‘I’s soaked in hotness and humidity. Watsuji’s fudo thus offers a lesson that without considering the collective humane characteristic of a natural climatic phenomenon, any sustainable act is flawed and inefficient.

References

[1]  Watsuji, T. A Climate: A Philosophical Study; Ministry of Education Printing Bureau: Tokyo, Japan, 1961; pp. 4, 5, 8, 14, 16, 39–40, 135, 137–138, 145, 198, 200–202.
[2]  Watsuji, T. Watsuji Tetsuro’s Rinrigaku: Ethics in Japan; State University of New York Press: Albany, NY, USA, 1996; pp. 9 and 107.
[3]  Dilworth, D.A.; Nishida, K. Last Writings: Nothingness and the Religious Worldview; Honolulu University Press: Honolulu, HI, USA, 1987; pp. 5–6 and 130–131.

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