Mono no Aware and Gender as Affect in Japanese Aesthetics and American Pragmatism places the naturalistic pragmatism of John Dewey in conversation with Motoori Norinaga’s mono no aware, a Japanese aesthetic theory of experience, to examine gender as a felt experience of an aware, or an affective quality of persons. By treating gender as an affect, Johnathan Charles Flowers argues that the experience of gendering and being gendered is a result of the affective perception of the organization of the body in line with cultural aesthetics embodied in Deweyan habit or Japanese kata broadly understood as culturally mediated transactions with the world. On this view, how the felt sense of identity aligns with the affective organization of society determines the nature of the possible social transactions between individuals. As such, this book intervenes in questions of personhood broadly—and identity specifically—by treating personhood itself as an affective sense. In doing so, this book demonstrates how questions of personhood and identity are themselves affective judgments. By treating gender and other identities as aware, this book advocates an expanded recognition of the how to be in the world through cultivating new ways of perceiving the affective organization of persons.
Johnathan Flowers is assistant professor of philosophy at California State University, Northridge.
Chapter 1: Mono no Aware in Motoori Norinaga’s Thought
Chapter 2: The Poetic Cultivation of Mono no Aware
Chapter 3: The Normative and Social Dimensions of Mono no Aware in Experience
Chapter 4: The Aware of Gender in Literature
Chapter 5: Establishing the Ground of Aesthetic Personhood through John Dewey and Thomas Alexander
Chapter 6: Individuated Identity as an Aesthetic Process
Chapter 7: The Qualitative Unity of Gender and Offices
Chapter 8: Reconceiving the Kokoro: Reading Norinaga with Dewey
Chapter 9: Cross-Culturally Reconceiving Mono no Aware and Gender
Chapter 10: The Kata of Gender and the Dō of Offices
Chapter 11: Aware as a Poetics of Gender
This is an inspired and inspiring book. Putting John Dewey’s pragmatism in conversation with the Japanese philosophy of Motoori Norinaga, Johnathan Flowers creatively develops an affective eco-ontology of gender that is open and dynamic. I especially appreciate how the book’s methodology complements its main claims concerning interbeing through connection and transaction, especially across different cultural traditions. With this book, Flowers breathes fresh life into contemporary understandings of gendered experience and being.
Every scholar of pragmatism should familiarize themselves with this book. I've learned so much about how Japanese aesthetics interacts and corresponds with Dewey's metaphysics and aesthetics. But beyond being just a comparative work of cross-cultural philosophy, Flowers offers an incredible reading of gender at a time when bad actors and conceptual confusion abounds. This book is absolutely essential.
The nature of gender is passionately debated everywhere today, from family dinner tables to op-ed pages to academic journals. Johnathan Flowers’ Mono no Aware and Gender as Affect in Japanese Aesthetics and American Pragmatism is an extremely timely and provocative intervention on this topic. In this breathtaking intellectual tour de force, Flowers brings the insights of the Japanese philosopher Motoori Norinaga into dialogue with the existentialism of Simone de Beauvoir and the pragmatism of John Dewey to offer a new approach to the issue of gender. This is a book that will captivate adventurous minds