Chapter Five: Family

Table of Contents

In the Era of the Stratified Orders, the identity of people is also split into two. The individual supports the Empire or globalism while nationals support the nation-state or its nationalism. We must think of a third identity that transcends both in order to move beyond choosing between the Empire and the nation-state. This will be the basis for our tourists’ solidarity within a postal multitude.

In order to create this third identity I propose a reevaluation and deconstruction of the concept of family. Today, the word family is regarded as an expression of conservative ideology and viewed unfavorably by Japanese liberal intellectuals (this context might be largely different from that of North America and Europe). However, I choose it because there seems to be no other concept—not the individual nor the nation-state—that can serve as the core of a sustainable social identity. Emmanuel Todd showed how the family structure regulates social order even in contemporary society; Kojin Karatani argued that we must reconsider the idea of donation, a primitive form of exchanging goods, which is inherent in the family, to critique capitalism or the order of the Empire. This reevaluation of family follows Todd and Karatani’s studies.

First we should acknowledge three characteristics of the family. The first is its compulsoriness (kyoseisei). One cannot easily enter or leave a family by free will alone. Therefore, it can serve as the basis of a political movement. The second is its contingency (guzensei). Family is essentially an assemblage of coincidences. All people have parents even though we are not able to choose who they are. Parents, too, are not able to choose their children. While Heidegger’s existentialism philosophizes a human’s fate from his or her inevitable isolated death, if we turn our attention to the unpredictability or contingency of birth connected with the other’s body, we can conceive of another kind of existentialist philosophy. The third is its expandability (kakuchosei). It is possible to easily expand one’s family through adoption and other measures. Wittgenstein’s philosophical concept of “family resemblance” will prove helpful in understanding my approach. The sense of family sometimes extends beyond the boundaries of species. Philosophy has devoted little attention to these strange and complicated characteristics of the family.