Study Guide Four
Karatani Kojin’s „Non-Cartesian Cogito.“ Part II.
reading of Karatani continues into the final of the three essays,
This builds on the Cartesian meditations and Kantian analytics of the previous
to the Non-Cartesian Cogito„;
cogito or the Cogito as Difference“:.
|Earl Jackson Jr.s‘ Extrapolations of Main Points in „On
|The Three types of „subjext“||Karatani’s Terms for the Three Types of Subject.|
|In contemporary Japanese, for instance, the grammatical
subject, subject as „theoretical reason,“ and subject as „practical reason“
are distinguished, and called shugo, shukan, and shutai,
|shugo||The grammatical subject of the
|The grammatical subject|
|shukan||The epistemological subject.||The subject as „theoretical reason“|
|shutai||The subject in relation to others.||The subject as „practical reason.“|
|Karatani attributes these distinctions to Nishida Kitaro.
Naoki Sakai discusses the differences between shukan
and shutai in terms of the philosophy of Watsuji Tetsujiro.
|Let’s leave this aside for now.|
|[Karatani’s Text is in Blue-Violet. Nietzsche that Karatani
quotes is in Clover Green.]
|Nietzsche’s Text not quoted
in Karatani is in Red.
|Karatani turns to Nietzsche’s view of grammar|
|Nietzsche claimed that the Cartesian
cogito ergo sum was merely an inference automatically driven by the grammatical
custom of the Western languages. He continues:
|Let’s look at Nietzsche in context:.|
|P]hilosophizing is to this extent
a kind of atavism of the highest order. The strange family resemblance
of all Indian, Greek, and German philosophizing is explained easily enough.
Where there is affinity of languages, it cannot fail, owing to the common
philosophy of grammar-I mean, owing to the unconscious domination and guidance
by similar grammatical functions-that everything is prepared at the outset
for a similar development and sequence of philosophical systems; just as
the way seems barred against certain other possibilities of world-interpretation.
It is highly probable that philosophers within the domain of the Ural-Altaic
languages (where the concept of the subject is least developed) look otherwise
„into the world,“ and will be found on paths of thought different from
those of the Indo-Germanic peoples and the Muslims: the spell of certain
grammatical functions is ultimately also the spell of physiological valuations
and racial conditions. (217)
regard to the superstitions of logicians, I shall never tire of emphasizing
a small terse fact, which these superstitious minds hate to concede – namely,
that a thought comes when „it“ wishes. and not when „I“ wish, so that it
is a falsification of the facts of the case to say that the subject „I“
is the condition of the predicate „think.“ It thinks; but that this „it“
is precisely the famous old „ego“ is, to put it mildly, only a supposition,
an assertion. and assuredly not an „immediate certainty.“ After all, one
has even gone too far with this „it thinks“ – even the „it“ contains an
interpretation of the process, and does not belong to the process itself.
0ne infers here according to the grammatical habit: „Thinking is an activity;
every activity requires an agent; consequently…“
It was pretty much according
to the same schema that the older atomism sought, besides the operating
„power,“ that lump of matter in which it resides and out of which it operates
– the atom. More rigorous minds, however, learned at last to get along
without this „earth-residuum,“ and perhaps some day we shall accustom ourselves,
including the logicians, to get along without the little „it“ (which is
all that is left of the honest little old ego).
18 It is certainly not the least
19 Philosophers are accustomed
20 That individual philosophical
|From Beyond Good and Evil, Chapter One, „The
Prejudice of the Philosophers“ Helen Zimmern, Trans. (1974).
|But today this sense of transcendental
critique concerning language is long lost and it is widely believed that
language, as empirically grasped, determines consciousness. If the paragraph
of Nietzsche quoted above were read without this sense of transcendental
positionality, it would be disastrous. Japanese, for instance, is one of
the Ural-Altaic languages. But, is it possible to say that Japan has its
own philosophy different from that of the West because of its language?
There are many philosophers in Japan who literally believe so. But one
point should be clarified: there is a vagueness in Nietzsche’s assessment
of the Ural-Altaic languages that in them „the concept of the subject is
least developed.“ In an agglutinative language such as Japanese, subject
is neither absent nor omitted. It is simply that there is no subject equivalent
to that in the Western languages. This point is misunderstood in Japan,
too, because when modern linguists in Japan produced Japanese grammar,
they did so by directly introducing Western syntax. No wonder the syntax
does not adequately explain the language, and the idiotic question whether
or not there is a subject in Japanese has flourished ever since. In Japan,
there are even cultural essentialists who want to ascribe the sense that
Japanese lack independency and individuality in their actions and decision-making,
or that they tend to coexist in one harmonious community, to the lack of
subject in the national language. Needless to mention, they have never
referred to other Ural-Altaic languages.
|Moving to Nishida, Karatani needs the copula and its
It was a linguist, Motoki Tokieda,
who offered the most successful theoretical account of this issue in Japanese.
According to him, in the Indo-European languages, subject and predicate
are connected by the copula, while in the Ural-Altaic languages such as
Japanese, the predicate/verb that comes at the end of the sentence synthesizes
the whole. It follows that the subject-particularly the person, which can
be judged by the conjugation of the predicate-is often unnecessary. It
is somewhat similar to Latin: i.e., cogito
already contains the sign of the first person in its inflection, therefore
the independent subject, je in French, is omitted. Furthermore,
in Japanese, the person also alters according to the relationship between
speaker and listener (their age, gender, class, etc.), so that the subject
is far from the „I“ or Ich that assumes a substance in and of itself
|NOT at all similar.|
|OUR NEXT TASK WILL BE TO SCRUTINIZE KARATANI’S CLAIMS WITH THE AID
OF LINGUISTICS AND SEMIOTICS. THE SECTIONS OF HIS ESSAY I ARRANGE IN THE
FINAL PART OF THIS TABLE WILL FACILITATE THIS ENCOUNTER.
|And what Nietzsche’s account of
language really points out is that the new subjectivity tends to be confused
with the old one if one’s thinking remains in the domain of Western grammar.
For instance, Emile Benveniste writes, „It is in and through language that
man constitutes himself as a subject. . . . ‚Ego‚ is he who says
‚ego‚.“ (224) In the West, this sort of recognition itself was sensational.
exists in the very position that makes it possible for him to vocate the
above statement, but passes by immediately after-which is transcendental
par excellence. The position, however, can never be encoded in a common
language. And certainly, in Japanese, where the first person pronoun alters
according to its relationship with the receiver of the message, the firstperson
is never confused with subject. The epistemological and grammatical subject
never form a concrete unity as in Western languages. But this convention
does not necessarily prevent Japanese from composing their psychological
self/subject, while at the same time neither does this grammatical condition
allow Japanese to go beyond modern subjectivity.
|And certainly, in Japanese, where
the first person pronoun alters according to its relationship with the
receiver of the message, the firstperson is never confused with subject.
The epistemological and grammatical subject never form a concrete unity
as in Western languages. But this convention does not necessarily prevent
Japanese from composing their psychological self/subject, while at the
same time neither does this grammatical condition allow Japanese to go
beyond modern subjectivity.
Japan Forum One
Japan Forum Two
|PMJF 9||PMJF 10||PMJF 11|
|Study Guide One||Study Guide Two||Study Guide Three|
|Study Guide Four|