Self-fidelity is a human ethical task. But how can we be faithful to a self that is both individual and social? This paper takes up this question by comparing the basic ethical frameworks of Nikolai Berdyaev and Watsuji Tetsurō. In the first section of this paper, Berdyaev’s notion of personality and his three forms of ethics (ethics of law, ethics of redemption, and ethics of creativeness) are discussed. In the second section, Watsuji’s notion of ethics as the study of man (ningen) is explored, detailing the dual structure of ningen and the double-negation of ethics. And in the third section, a detailed comparison is carried out in an attempt to reconcile Berdyaev’s individualistic ethics and Watsuji’s social ethics, beginning with their notions of the human person, proceeding to their three-part ethical structures, and ending with an exploration of the possibility of unifying their philosophies through a notion of communal creativity and creative community.


Buddhism, Christianity, Japanese philosophy, sociality

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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