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International Cosmos Prize

The Prizewinner 2018

Name Dr. Augustin Berque
Born on September 6, 1942
Nationality French
Title Director of studies at the EHESS (School of advanced studies in the social sciences)

Reason for Awarding

Dr. Augustin Berque is a distinguished French human geographer and philosopher, who has made his own research and suggestions regarding The Harmonious Coexistence between Nature and Mankind, on the basis of the concept “the Earth as our fūdo (風土 milieu).” This year’s International Cosmos Prize is awarded to Dr. Berque in recognition of his outstanding achievements in establishing a unique environmental anthropology. Since it is based on the Oriental view of nature and corroborated by his fieldworks in Japan, China, Mongolia, etc., this one-of-a-kind discipline differentiates itself from conventional environmental sciences and ethics, which are built on the Western view of nature.

Dr. Berque served as Professor at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) in France for many years. He has also spent over 12 years in total in Japan to conduct research and education activities. This experience has made him well-versed in Japanese culture and history. Profoundly inspired by Fūdo, authored by the Japanese philosopher Tetsurō Watsuji (1889–1960), Dr. Berque translated this book into French. By further elaborating, deepening and evolving Watsuji’s concept of Fūdo, Dr. Berque organized his own thinking about landscapes and scenery, so as to develop a new academic discipline called “mésologie (fūdogaku 風土学).” Moreover, based on the theoretical results of mésologie, he proposed a theory about the subjecthood of nature, which holds that nature has subjectivity, while critically overcoming anthropocentrism in the nature-culture dualism and environmental ethics. Traditional environmental ethics unilaterally asserts protection of the natural environment, on the basis of human subjecthood alone. On the other hand, his theory of nature’s subjecthood based on non-anthropocentrism argues that the subjecthood of humans and nature both should be recognized, and that we should aim to re-establish the relationship between nature and people. Consequently this theory has provided environmental thoughts with a revolutionary perspective. Dr. Berque’s notion has raised strong objection to criticism that considers the fūdo theories as a whole to constitute environmental determinism, thereby impacting the theory of life on our planet, biological sciences, as well as Western-oriented philosophy and sciences.

Dr. Berque emphasizes a fundamental distinction between environment and fūdo (milieu). The former is on the physical natural or ecological level, whereas the latter is both physical and sensory at the same time. In other words, while environment can be scientifically studied as an object, fūdo (milieu) is fraught with human subjecthood, and therefore considered to be formed between a subject and an object.

To put it another way, Dr. Berque’s mésologie draws a line between itself and Western environmental sciences and outlooks, which are based on the premise of an either-or choice between physical and sensory. In his notion, he consistently maintains a critical attitude toward modern mindsets, by pointing out that the underlying cause behind overall environmental devastation is the fact that modern subjects have denied their mediance (fūdosei 風土性). This viewpoint shares a certain similarity with that of Japanese traditional thoughts and practices, which have sustained cultural aspects like satoyama and satoumi (respectively, natural woodlands and coastal areas that are connected with the lives and livelihoods of local inhabitants). It also has something in common with the Oriental view of nature, which aims toward living in perfect harmony with nature. This notion is reflected in his book Le Paysage au Japon, en Europe, et à l'ère du paysagement (Landscapes in Japan and in Western Europe, and the Age of Landscaping).

Based on the theory of mésologie, Dr. Berque has reexamined the concepts around nature and the subject, thereby reaching the conclusion that in contrast to machines, nature should have subjecthood, in a certain form and to a certain extent, as long as it is alive. In other word, he considers that nature as a living entity has its own subjecthood that determines its 趣 (sens), namely, the direction it should take.

Since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Dr. Augustin Berque has frequently visited the disaster-hit regions, and participated in many symposiums in Japan. At the same time, he has offered valuable advice regarding reconstruction plans for the affected areas, using the keyword sappukei (literally “killing the landscape”, in contemporary Japanese meaning dreary, desolate, etc.). This is an example that demonstrates the usefulness of theories on fūdo, in finding solutions to specific issues.

It can be said that Dr. Berque’s environmental anthropology seeks to reconsider the relationship between nature and people, and provides us with an important philosophical insight that helps determine a better direction for human survival in the future. In summary, his theory can transform our image of the global environment, from one of Spaceship Earth, which stresses resource limitations, to one of the Earth as our fūdo (milieu), whose essential elements are resources, restrictions, risks, and amenities. The accomplishments of Dr. Augustin Berque will add a new page for the principle of the International Cosmos Prize: The Harmonious Coexistence between Nature and Mankind.


Studies geography, Chinese and Japanese at Paris University (1959-1963), at the School of oriental languages, Paris (1960-1963, 1965-1967) and at Oxford University, Wadham College (1963-1964)
Doctor in geography (PhD, 1969, Paris University)


1970-1974 Lector in French at Hokkaido University
1975-1977 Invited researcher at Tohoku University, Sendai
1977-1979 Researcher at the CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research)
1979-present Director of studies at the EHESS (École des hautes études en sciences sociales)
1984-1988 Director of the Maison franco-japonaise in Tokyo
1999-2001 Professor at Miyagi University, Sendai
1993-1994 and 2005-2006 Invited researcher at the Nichibunken (Centre for international research on Japanese culture, Kyoto)

Major Honors

1995 Prize of the Japanese society for cultural design, for his works in the theory of landscape
1997 Yamagata Bantô Prize for his works in Japanese studies
2006 Cultural prize of the Japanese society of architects, for his works on human settlements in Japan
2009 Fukuoka Asian Culture Grand Prize
2011 Japan Foundation Award for Japanese studies
2012 NIHU Prize in Japanese studies
2015 Order of the Rising Sun, gold rays with neck ribbon
2017 Kyoto Earth Hall of Fame inductee

Articles Major Publications


  1. Le Japon, gestion de l'espace et changement social, Paris, Flammarion, 1976, 340 p. [Territorial policies and social change in Japan].
  2. La Riziere et la banquise, colonisation et changement culturel a Hokkaido, Paris, Publications orientalistes de France, 1980, 272 p. [Ricefield and icefield. Colonization and cultural change in Hokkaido].
  3. Vivre l'espace au Japon, Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 1982, 222 p. [A Phenomenology of space in Japan]. 日本語訳『空間の日本文化』、筑摩書房、1985.
  4. Le Sauvage et l'artifice, les Japonais devant la nature, Paris, Gallimard, 1997 (1ere ed. 1986), 314 p. Translated as Nature, artifice and Japanese culture, Pilkington, 1997. 『風土の日本. 自然と文化の通態』、筑摩書房、1988.
  5. (direction/ed.) Le Japon et son double, logiques d'un autoportrait, Paris, Masson, 1987, 165 p. [The Logics of Japan’s self-portrait].
  6. (direction/ed.) La Qualite de la ville : urbanite francaise, urbanite nippone, Tokyo, Maison franco-japonaise, 1987, 327 p. [The Quality of the city : French and Japanese urbanity].
  7. Mediance, de milieux en paysages, Paris, Belin/Reclus, 2000 (1ere ed. 1990), 161 p. [Mediance : from milieu to landscape]. 日本語訳『風土としての地球』、筑摩書房、1993.
  8. 『日本の風景、西洋の景観、そして造景の時代』Nihon no fukei, Seio no keikan, soshite zokei no jidai (Le Paysage au Japon, en Europe, et a l'ere du paysagement), Tokyo, Kodansha, 1990, 190 p. [Landscape in Japan and in Europe].
  9. Du Geste a la cite, formes urbaines et lien social au Japon, Paris, Gallimard, 1993, 247 p. 日本語訳『都市の日本』、筑摩書房、1995 . Translated as Japan : cities and social bonds, Pilkington, 1997.
  10. 『都市のコスモロジー』 Toshi no kosumoroji, Nichi-Bei-Ou toshi hikaku (Cosmologie de la ville, comparaison des villes du Japon, des Etats-Unis et d'Europe), Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993, 236 p. [Comparing urbanity in Japan, Europe and North America].
  11. (direction/ed.) Cinq propositions pour une théorie du paysage, Seyssel, Champ Vallon, 1994, 125 p. [Five proposals for landscape].
  12. (direction/ed.) La Maîtrise de la ville : urbanité française, urbanité nippone, II, Paris, Éditions de l'EHESS, 1994, 595 p. [Mastering the city : French and Japanese urbanity, II].
  13. (direction/ed.) Dictionnaire de la civilisation japonaise, Paris, Hazan, 1994, 537 p. in quarto. [Dictionary of the Japanese civilization].
  14. Les Raisons du paysage, de la Chine antique aux environnements de synthèse, Paris, Hazan, 1995, 192 p. [The Reasons of landscape, from ancient China to synthetic environments].
  15. 『日本の風土性』Nihon no fûdosei (La Médiance nippone), Tokyo, NHK Ningen Daigaku, 1995, 130 p. et 2 vidéo-cassettes (total 6 h) [Japanese mediance].
  16. Être humains sur la Terre, principes d'éthique de l'écoumène, Paris, Gallimard, 1996, 212 p. 日本語訳『地球と存在の哲学』、筑摩書房、1995 [Being human on the earth : principles of ecumenal ethics].
  17. (direction/ed., avec/with Philippe Nys) Logique du lieu et œuvre humaine, Bruxelles, Ousia, 1997, 276 p. [Logic of place and human work].
  18. (avec/with Maurice Sauzet et/and Jean-Paul Ferrier) De Japon en Méditerranée, architecture et présence au monde, Paris, Massin, 1999, 189 p. [From Japan to the Mediterranean : architecture and presence in the world].
  19. (direction/ed.) La Mouvance : du jardin au territoire, cinquante mots pour le paysage, Paris, Éditions de la Villette, 1999, 100 p. [Fifty words for landscape].
  20. (direction/ed.) Logique du lieu et dépassement de la modernité, tome I : Nishida, la mouvance philosophique, 390 p ; tome II : Du lieu nishidien vers d'autres mondes, 294 p., Bruxelles, Ousia, 2000. [Logic of place and the overcoming of modernity, I. Nishida and his influence, II. From the Nishidian place to other worlds].
  21. Écoumène, introduction à l'étude des milieux humains, Paris, Belin, 2000, 271 p. [Ecumene : an introduction to the study of human milieux]. 日本語訳『風土学序説』、筑摩書房, 2002.
  22. Les Déserts de Jean Verame, Milan/Paris, Skira/Seuil, 2000, 180 p. [Jean Verame’s deserts].
  23. (対談集entretiens/talks)『都市、建築空間の場所生』Toshi, kenchiku kûkan to bashosei (Ville, architecture et sens du lieu), Sendai, Miyagi Daigaku, 2001, 331 p. [City, architecture, sense of place].
  24. (avec/with Maurice SAUZET) Le Sens de l’espace au Japon. Vivre, penser, bâtir, Paris, Arguments, 2004, 227 p. [The Sense of space in Japan].
  25. (direction/ed., avec/with Philippe BONNIN et/and Cynthia GHORRA-GOBIN) La Ville insoutenable, Paris, Belin, 2006, 366 p. [Unsustainable city].
  26. (direction/ed.) Mouvance II. Du jardin au territoire, soixante-dix mots pour le paysage, Paris, Éditions de la Villette, 2006, 120 p. [Seventy words for landscape].
  27. (編著direction/ed.)『日本の住まいに於ける風土性と持続性』 Nihon no sumai ni okeru fûdosei to jizokusei (Médiance et soutenabilité dans l’habitation japonaise), Kyôto, Nichibunken, 2007 [Mediance and sustainability in Japanese habitation].
  28. La Pensée paysagère, Bastia, Éditions Éoliennes, 2015 (2008). 日本語訳『風景という知』、世界思想社、2010. Translated as Thinking through landscape, Routledge, 2013. Traduit également en espagnol, persan, chinois.
  29. (direction/ed., avec/with Philippe BONNIN et/and Alessia DE BIASE) L’Habiter dans sa poétique première, Paris, Donner lieu, 2008, 404 p. [The primary poetics of inhabiting].
  30. (direction/ed.) Une ville se refait-elle ? Paris, L’Harmattan, 2009, 142 p. (Géographie et cultures n° 65, printemps 2008) [ Can cities be remade ?].
  31. (co-direction / co-editor) Être vers la vie / 生への存在. Ontologie, biologie, éthique de l’existence humaine. Actes du colloque de Cerisy-la-Salle, Ebisu n°40-41, automne 2008-été 2009, 224 p. [Being toward life. Ontology, biology, ethics of human existence. Proceedings of the Cerisy-la-Salle symposium].
  32. Histoire de l’habitat idéal. De l’Orient vers l’Occident, Paris, Le Félin, 2010, 399 p. [History of the ideal abode : from East to West]. 鳥海基樹訳『理想の住まい。隠遁から殺風景へ』, Kyôto Daigaku Gakujutsu Shuppankai, 2017.
  33. Milieu et identité humaine. Notes pour un dépassement de la modernité, Paris, Donner lieu, 2010, 150 p. [Milieu and human identity, being notes for an overcoming of modernity].
  34. (Traduction et glose de) WATSUJI Tetsurô, Fûdo. Le milieu humain, Paris, Éditions du CNRS, 2011, 330 p. [和辻哲郎著『風土』の仏訳(Translation and gloss of) Fûdo. The human milieu].
  35. (co-direction / co-editor) Donner lieu au monde : la poétique de l’habiter Paris, Donner lieu, 2012, 402 p.
  36. (direction/ed.) De chose en fait : la question du milieu. Articles issus du colloque de Shin-Hirayu [From thing to fact : the question of milieu. Proceedings of the Shin-Hirayu symposium], Ebisu, n° 49 (printemps-été 2013), p. 50-113 .
  37. Poétique de la Terre. Histoire naturelle et histoire humaine, essai de mésologie [Poetics of the Earth. Natural history and human history, an essay in mesology], Paris, Belin, 2014, 240 p.
  38. La mésologie, pourquoi et pour quoi faire [Mesology, why and what for ?], Paris, Presses universitaires de Paris Ouest, 2014, 78 p.
  39. (& al.) Le Lien au lieu. Actes de la chaire de mésologie de l’Université de Corse [The links of place. Proceedings of the chair of mesology of the University of Corsica], Bastia, Éditions Éoliennes, 2014, 304 p.
  40. Formes empreintes, formes matrices, Asie orientale [Forms as imprints, forms as matrices, East Asia], Le Havre, Franciscopolis, Les presses du réel, 2015, 63 p.
  41. La liberté dans l’évolution. Le vivant comme sujet, traduction d’ [translataion of], IMANISHI Kinji, Shutaisei no shinkaron (1981), suivi de La mésologie d’Imanishi [followed by Imanishi’s mesology], Marseille, Wildproject, 2015, 190 p.
  42. Là, sur les bords de l’Yvette. Dialogues mésologiques [There, on the banks of the Yvette. Mesological dialogues], Bastia, Éditions Éoliennes, 2017, 120 p.
  43. Glossaire de mésologie [A Glossary of Mesology], Bastia, Éditions Éoliennes, 2018, 48 p.
  44. Recosmiser la Terre. Quelques leçons péruviennes [Recosmicizing the Earth. A few lessons from Peru], Paris, B2, 2018, 64 p.