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KIMURA Motomori 木村素衞 (1895-1946)

Japanese philosopher


KIMURA Motomori is a philosopher and pedagogue who represents the Kyoto School. Kimura was born in Kaga City, Ishikawa Prefecture in 1895. Due to illness, he had no choice but to drop out of the Third High School, and after being ill for a period of time, he entered the Department of Philosophy at Kyoto Imperial University in 1920, where he studied philosophy under Kitaro NISHIDA. After graduating from the university, he worked as an assistant professor at the Hiroshima University of Letters and Science, and in 1933 he took up a position at the Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of Letters, Kyoto Imperial University. In February 1946, while on a lecture tour to schools in Nagano Prefecture, he died in Ueda City at the age of fifty. As one of the main members of the Kyoto School, Kimura showed the possibility of aesthetic development of the Kyoto School philosophy with the concept of “expression” and constructed an excellent pedagogy with an original system based on Fichte and aesthetic studies.

KIMURA Motomori is one of the representative students of NISHIDA Kitaro (1870-1945). In Japan, Kimura was an important researcher of German idealism due to his translation of Fichte’s “Foundations of the Entire Science of Knowledge” (1794/95), which he undertook after his assignment (on the recommendation of his teacher Nishida) as a professor of Literature and Science at Hiroshima University in 1931. He published his own work Fichte in 1937. After being invited to the Kyoto Imperial University according to the advice of his teacher, he published his dissertation The Basic Structure of Practical Existence: An Investigation of Fichte’s Philosophy Directed toward a Consideration of the Philosophy of Education (1940) and Investigations of German Idealism (1940). He is also known as a philosopher who played an important role in the development of the aesthetics of the Kyoto School through his writings Expression-Love (1939) and Shape of Beauty (1941), both published at the Kyoto Imperial University.


Kimura’s article “Body and Spirit,” included in the book Expression-Love, is known to have been highly praised by Nishida, who sent him a letter after reading it. According to Kimura, a human being is not only a body in the material sense, but also a spiritual being. Human beings express the results of their own spiritual activities outside of themselves. In other words, we form ourselves outside of ourselves. Kimura describes human beings as “formative and expressive beings.” What is noteworthy here is Kimura’s understanding of the external expression of the results of one’s own mental activity in the form of an interactive process. For an expression to be possible, there must first be a stimulus from the outside, and in response to that stimulus, one inscribes one’s own spiritual activities in the material things of the outside. Kimura’s understanding of human beings was that they are “spiritual and material beings,” or in other words, “dialectical beings.” According to Kimura, it is the “body” that makes such dialectical expressions possible. The body is the essential support for the workings of “expression” in the dialectical existence of human beings (cf. Fujita p. 325).

TAMADA Ryūtarō





Works by Kimura

フィヒテ; Fichte, Kōbundō, 1937

表現愛; Expression-Love, Iwanami-shoten, 1939

独逸観念論の研究; Investigations of German Idealism, Kōbundō, 1940

美のかたち; Shape of Beauty, Iwanami-shoten, 1941

国民教育の根本問題; Fundamental problems of National education, Meguro-shoten, 1941

形成的自覚; Formative Self-consciousness, Kōbundō, 1941

国家に於ける文化と教育; Culture and Education in the State, Iwanami-shoten, 1946

教育学の根本問題; Fundamental problems in Pedagogy, Reimei-shobō, 1947

教育と人間; Education and Humanity, Kōbundō, 1948

木村素衞著作集; The Collected Works of Momori KIMURA, 6 vols., Gakujutsu-shuppankai, 2014

身体と精神; Body and Spirit [Mind], in: FUJITA Masakatsu (ed.), The Philosophy of the Kyoto School, Singapore: Springer, 2018, pp. 109-122


Works on Kimura

村瀬裕也『木村素衞の哲学――美と教養への啓示』; MURASE Hiroya, Philosophy of KIMURA Motomori: Revelation to the Beauty and Culture, Kobushi-shobō, 2001

大西正倫『表現的生命の教育哲学――木村素衞の教育思想』; ŌNISHI Masamichi, A Philosophy of Education of Expressive Life: KIMURA Motomori’s Thoughts on Education, Shōwadō, 2011

門前斐紀 『木村素衞「表現愛」の人間学――「表現」「形成」「作ること」の身体論』; MONZEN Ayaki, Human Studies by KIMURA Motomori’s “Expression-Love”: Body Theory of ‘Expression’, ‘Formation’, and ‘To make’, Minerva-shobō, 2017

藤田正勝『日本哲学史』; FUJITA Masakatsu: The History of Japanese Philosophy, Shōwadō, 2018

大西正倫「コンテクストから読み解く――木村素衛と「身体と精神」」; ŌNISHI Masamichi, Reading According to the Context: KIMURA Motomori and “Body and Spirit”, in: FUJITA Masakatsu (ed.), The Philosophy of the Kyoto School, 2018, pp. 123-135

矢野智司『京都学派と自覚の教育学――篠原助市・長田新・木村素衞から戦後教育学まで』; YANO Satoji, Kyoto School and Self-consciousness of Pedagogy: From Sukeichi SHINOHARA, Arata OSADA, Motomori KIMURA to Postwar Pedagogy, Keiso-shobō, 2021

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