The Favourable Reception of Gustav Fechner's 'The Little Book of Life after Death' in Japan

  • Akira Iwabuchi

Abstract

Gustav Fechner addressed philosophical and religious issues in his works. In ‘The Little Bookof Life after Death’, Fechner expressed a unique view of life and death combining Christian,pantheist and panpsychist motives, which was highly evaluated by William James. We find anassociation between ‘The Little Book’ and ‘Elements of Psychophysics’—which describes amutual relationship of many people’s conscious states—through a premature idea involving awave image that later develops into a wave scheme. ‘The Little Book’ has been translated intomany languages, including English, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch, Icelandic and Japanese.Importantly, there are five different Japanese translations, even though there are fewChristians in Japan. This study discusses the wide acceptance of Fechner’s view of life anddeath among the Japanese. The reasons behind this acceptance are that his doctrinesresembled, at least superficially, traditional Japanese spiritual thoughts and also provided anon-materialistic worldview, which was longed for by the Japanese.
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