Sonzai is constructed from 2 words; son and zai. Son means subjective self-subsistence or sustain over time. Zai means that the subject stays in the same places in which the word “places” refers to social places which consist of human relations, such as home, hotel, inn, etc. By putting these two words together, we get sonzai (human existence) which literally means self-sustenance of human relations. Although sonzai looks similar to ningen, they are quite different. Ningen refers to capability of being an individual and at the same time also being a member of a society. To sum up, ningen is mostly explaining about a person as an individual. Sonzai emphasizes the dynamic structure of human being, such as human relations which concerns about the relationship between one individual to others. However, sonzai can be said as the interconnection of the acts of ningen as sonzai describes what a person (ningen) does to others. According to Watsuji Tetsuo, we can combine both ningen and sonzai becomes “ningen sonzai” which refers to the subject, who is at once individual and social, and to society, who are at once singular and composite (Kalmanson, 2010).
B. Individuality and Totality
Individuality refers to an individual as a single person, such as me, you, him, etc. Totality refers to a group of individuals, such as society, community, etc. Sonzai (human existence) is neither individual nor communal, but it’s combination of two. People are individuals who interact with other people as communal. Furthermore, neither individual nor communal can exist independently. They rely on each other. As I discussed before, community as well as individual is one aspect of human being. Community is only community if it consists of many individuals. According to Watsuji, individuality only comes to be established as negation of totality. Totality is a negation of individuality. This leads to what so called as the negation of movement between individuality and totality. An individual negates his own will and individuality aspects, then becomes in community. An individual tries to restore his lost and individuality by negating the community as time goes by. As he negates the totality, he comes back to be an individual. This process continues back and forth between individuality and totality. People also call this as the never ending creation in Ningen Sonzai. To sum up, Watsuji explained that there is neither absolute totality nor absolute individuality. He emphasized that both totality and individuality are important for human being. I agree with that. Human being needs to socialize to other people. At the same time, they need their own privacy in some occasions as well. Both are important. We have our own will and desire, but we also need interpersonal relationship. I would like to take an example, such as hitori bocchi. It is a Japanese term for those who choose to be alone rather than gathering with other people. In my opinion, it’s quite easy to find...