Fernando WIRTZ


This paper explores the concept of myth in two books written by Kōsaka Masaaki, The Historical World (1937) and Philosophy of the Nation (1942). In both, myth appears as a central moment in the transition from primitive to modern societies. The role of myth is closely related to Kōsaka’s notion of nature, since one goal of his reflection is to show how history is supported by the “substratum” of nature. In this sense, he also distinguishes between the natural and historical aspects of nations. After analyzing the subcategories of primordial nature, environmental nature, and historical nature, the paper shows how these layers are articulated by myth. Authority, in the contractual form of potlatch, signalizes the moment of transition to the true self-determination of nations. Miki Kiyoshi was one author who pointed out the problematic aspects of Kōsaka’s theory of nation. A comparison with Miki’s thought uncovers how authority is the main characteristic of Kōsaka’s view of myth. The paper finishes by investigating where this authority comes from. Since it cannot come from nature alone, it should also come from the past character of myth itself, which is an expression of what Kōsaka terms “the eternal now”.