Dr. Steve Odin

Dr. Steve Odin

University of Hawaiʻi System motto:

Malinda aʻe o nā lāhui a pau ke ola ke kanaka.

(“Above all nations is humanity.”)

At JPIC 2017, Dr. Steve Odin, philosopher from the University of Hawaii and an expert on Japanese philosophy, explains first up Saturday morning how Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel Nausea incorporates jazz.

Dr. Odin specializes in Japanese Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, American Philosophy, Metaphysics, Phenomenology, and Aesthetics.

He joined the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa philosophy department in 1982 after completing his Ph.D. degree in philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

He has taught as a visiting professor at Boston University (1989), Tohoku University (1994-95) and the University of Tokyo (2003-04). His research and teaching areas include Japanese philosophy, East-West comparative philosophy, American philosophy, Whitehead’s process metaphysics, phenomenology, environmental ethics, and aesthetics.


Among his publications are:


Dr. Odin has had several one-year grants for teaching and research in Japan, including two Fulbright Awards (1994-95 and 2003-04), a Japan Foundation Award (2001-92) and a National Endowment for the Humanities award (1987-88).

Teaching wise, Dr. Odin received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Hawaii in 1986 and has long been a member of the University of Hawaii (UH) for Japanese Studies.


An exciting new publication for Dr. Odin is his 2016 Tragic Beauty in Whitehead and Japanese Aesthetics that explains how the traditional Japanese Buddhist’s views on beauty and evanescent beauty relates to Alfred North Whitehead’s process aesthetics.

The book takes into account how best to think about Whitehead’s axiological process metaphysics, including his theory of values, concept of aesthetic experience, and doctrine of beauty, but especially focuses on two of Whitehead’s aesthetic categories, the penumbral beauty of darkness and the tragic beauty of perishability, and shows parallel relations in the two Japanese aesthetic categories of yûgen and aware.

Dr. Odin shows how both Alfred North Whitehead and the Buddhist Japanese tradition have articulated a poetics of evanescence that celebrates the transience of  aesthetic experience and the ephemerality of beauty. Finally it is argued that both Whitehead and a Buddhist Japanese traditional aesthetics develop an aesthetics of beauty as perishability culminating in a religio-aesthetic vision of tragic beauty and its reconciliation in the supreme ecstasy of peace or nirvana.  

The book is published by and available from Roman and Littlefield.

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