The context in the first paragraph suggests that the Watsuji’s idea has nothing to do with the Kyoto School. And the second paragraph confirms that reading of the first paragraph. Yet ‘conveys the flavor of the school’ seems to mean it actually has something to do with the school. Or that is an expression that I don’t know.

It is still debatable whether Watsuji can be counted among the philosophers of the Kyoto School, the philosophical movement founded by Japanese philosopher Kitarō Nishida. But it seems to me that Watsuji’s idea of fūdo-as-Dasein conveys the flavor of the school. This would be in accordance with bio-graphical anecdotes. His idea of fūdo was incubated in his lectures at Kyoto University during 1928-29 before he moved to the University of Tokyo in 1934. During his years as a Kyoto professor, Watsuji regularly attended Nishida’s lectures, taking notes earnestly at the frontmost bench of the theatre or so I was told by my grandfather, who attended their lectures in 1920s.

But there are also philosophical reasons to take Watsuji’s fūdo as belonging to the Kyoto School. The Kyoto School consists of philosophers who tried to reanimate an East Asian traditional view of self, that is, the true self, a holistic, embodied, and non-dual (or trans-dichotomous) concept of self. In this way, they tried to overcome the self-centeredness of the individual, while restoring its moral and socio-political responsibilities. Watsuji’s fūdo-as-Dasein can be taken as a continuation of this project. Watsuji also endeavored to rebuild social norms based on his concept of fūdo-as-Dasein, even though Droz and others can rightfully dismiss his efforts as unsatisfactory. (The Concept of Milieu in Environmental Ethics: Individual Responsibility within an Interconnected World, by Laÿna Droz)

  • 1
    The discussion differs from your assumption that it's a binary choice to consider Watsuji fitting into or not fitting into the Kyoto philosophy. His idea about fūdo matches the feeling (conveys the flavor) of the school, and philosophically that's also true. But technically, not so much. Grey area. Feb 15 at 22:17
  • "Convey the flavor" doesn't seem to be in dictionaries I've consulted, but the relevant meaning of "flavor" is: "3a: characteristic or predominant quality" in Merriam-Webster.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 16 at 10:09
  • @StuartF — Give a little on the conveyor belt and you should find an example.
    – David
    Feb 16 at 12:58
  • "Convey the flavor" usually means providing a sense of something sufficient to grasp (if not fully understand) its essence.
    – Zan700
    Feb 16 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


What is considered as debatable is never reckoned with as being fully dimissed, and Watsuji might still be counted as one of the exponents of that school, that is, a philosopher whose contribution, for the one part, falls along the lines of thinking of the school, and for the other, implies no contradiction with it; most of all, in order for Watsuji to belong truly to the school, if the whole of his work must not contradict the tenets put forward by that school, there must be a significant proportion of it that is found acceptable as a constitutive part of the thinking of that school; it is possibly this latter contention that is debatable. As to the idea of fūdo, it is very possibly only a small portion of Watsuji's contribution, which according to the author, bears the stamp of the school's way of thinking. So, the author provides the beginning of some support for the point of view that Watsuji's ideas are in keeping with the thinking that has been developped by the school. Therefore, the first paragraph does not suggests that Watsuji’s idea has nothing to do with the Kyoto School, but on the contrary, it suggests that it seems to have something to do with; it is debatable that Watsuji can be counted as one of the philosophers in that school, and the author has started the debate.
No, the second paragraph does not add to the would-be argument that the idea of Watsuji has nothing to do with the philosophy of the school (which is not the point of the first paragraph—as just shown), but instead it adds something to this argument by starting a new argument to the effect that there are philosophical reasons that show that that idea has its roots in the school's philosophy ("Watsuji’s fūdo-as-Dasein can be taken as a continuation of this project", this project of the school being "reanimat[ion of] an East Asian traditional view of self, that is, the true self, a holistic, embodied, and non-dual (or trans-dichotomous) concept of self"). Moreover, it insinuates an extension of this initial contribution made by Watsuji: he tells the reader that that idea is the basis of an endeavour to rebuild social norms; one is to infer that this rebuilding falls within the limits that the school has formulated for its studies, but the text is not specific on that point.


As @StuartF had remarked, it is difficult to find “convey the flavor of” in online dictionaries, but if you replace ‘convey’ with the simple ‘give’, there are a couple of examples. Both are from British English dictionaries following a search for “give the flavour of”, and searching using the US spelling, flavor, did not bring up any US dictionaries. The Google ngram shows that the expression (using give) has only become popular in the last 40 years, and the British English spelling (flavour) is more common, presumably indicating greater usage in Britain and hence explaining the absence of the phrase from US dictionaries. (“Convey a flavor/flavour” are much less common, but similar in usage.)

To the meaning.

Cambridge gives:

(to give) an idea or quick experience of something

with an example:

“To give you a flavour of what the book is like Jilly is going to read out a brief extract.”

Collins does not supply a definition, but gives the following example:

“Soft grey walls, whitewashed shutters, window seats and original fireplaces with lovely old tiles give a flavour of what to expect in the rooms.”

I would extend the Cambridge definition myself, to include

invoke, convey the essence of

which probably fits the example. In any case it is clear that X can can convey the essence of Y without X being or belonging to Y, and the extract makes perfect sense (at least the juxtaposition — I know nothing about the Kyoto School).

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