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Philosophy at the Virtual Art Museum

Using art to prompt philosophical discussions in the high school classroom.

Teacher Guide

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Hokusai, 1830-1833
FILTERS: Landscapes

Artwork Module Navigation

Questions for Philisophical Discussion

  1. What features strike you in this woodblock print?
  2. How is nature depicted in this seascape?
  3. Try to find the human figures in this image. How does this woodcut present the relationship between human beings and nature?
  4. Different works of art present different views of nature. Do you think that nature has a particular essence, such as threatening or peaceful? Why or why not? Does nature have a particular relationship to human beings? If so, what is it and why do you think so?
  5. Compare this image to A Landscape with a Ruined Castle and a Church. Do you think Westerners have a different view of nature than non-Westerners? Why or why not?
  6. In this landscape, and many of the other landscapes on this site, “nature” always shows some sign of human presence. Is there a correct way for human beings to interact with nature? What might it be and why do you think so?

Additional Resources

Landscape Overview and Resources

Landscapes are works of art that focus on scenes from nature. The landscapes featured in this unit encourage discussion about how the natural world is depicted and our relationship to the natural world.

Overview of the landscape genre from the J. Paul Getty Museum


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on environmental ethics

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Hokusai, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, 1830-1833
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Hokusai, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, 1830-1833
Download & Print Send Via Email
Hokusai, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, 1830-1833

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