This book presents the first collection of essays on the philosophy of Ueda Shizuteru in a Western language. Ueda, the last living member of the Kyoto school, has fostered the East-West dialogue in all his works and has helped to open up the Western image of philosophy by engaging the Zen tradition. The book reflects this particular trait of Ueda’s philosophy, but it also covers all thematic fields of his writings. Contributions from both young and established scholars and experts from (...) Japan, Europe and the U.S. make this a unique introduction to and reception of Ueda’s philosophy. Readers will discover discussions of mysticism in the East and West, and consideration of modern philosophy topics including self-awareness, nature and poetic language. The book also presents a focussed look at language and nothingness, considering silence and nihilism. Chapters allow the reader to understand the timeliness of a thinking that mediates and transcends the dichotomy of East and West. This volume will appeal not only to scholars of Nishida, Japanese philosophy, mysticism and religious experience in Japan, but also to scholars of Western philosophy, especially those interested in Meister Eckhart, Martin Heidegger and Martin Buber. It makes an ideal introduction to Zen philosophy and presents important contributions to scholarship on language and experience. (shrink)
This article focuses on Kyoto School philosophy’s “philosophy of world history,” during World War II, and its arguments for a multipolar world order in opposition to the older Eurocentric and colonialist world order. The idea was articulated by the second generation of the Kyoto School—Nishitani Keiji, Kōyama Iwao, Kōsaka Masaaki, and Suzuki Shigetaka—in a series of symposia held during 1941 to 1942 and titled the “The World-historical Standpoint and Japan.” While rejecting on the one hand the myopic patriotism of the (...) ultranationalists, they argued for a view to the world and its history, that in contrast to the Eurocentric view to world history, was polycentric. In terms of world politics they associated their view with the aim to construct a co-prosperity sphere in East Asia of autonomous nations to counter European colonialism as part of a new polycentric or multipolar world order. Metaphysically this notion of a co-prosperity sphere as well as of a multipolar world was grounded in the Kyoto School’s concept of “nothingness” as an open space for autonomous but corelated subjects. During the war, these discussions came under fire by critics from the Right, and then after the war, from the Left. I will examine the potential viability of these ideas today as a polycentric world may be on the horizon that ideally would give space to difference and diversity and avoid the violence of homogenization. A comparison of their notion of the nothing with Jean-luc Nancy’s concept of the same may provide some clues. (shrink)
Abstract: The symposium on overcoming modernity (kindai no chokoku) that took place in Tokyo in 1942 has been much commented upon, but later critics have tended to over-emphasize the wartime political context and the ideological connection to Japanese ultra-nationalism. Closer examination shows that the background and the actual content of the discussion were more complicated. The idea of overcoming modernity had already appeared in debates among Japanese intellectuals before the war, and was always open to different interpretations; it could indicate (...) Japanese ambitions to move beyond Western paradigms of modernity, but in other cases it referred to more radical visions of alternatives to modernity as such. Some versions linked up with Western critiques of existing modernity, including traditionalist as well as more future-oriented ones. These differentiations are evident in the symposium, and associated with diverse schools of thought. An important input came from representatives of the Kyoto school, the most distinctive current in twentieth-century Japanese philosophy. Despite the suppression of Marxist thought, the background influence of the unorthodox Marxist thinker Miki Kiyoshi was significant. Another major contribution came from the group known as the Japan Romantic School, active in literature and literary criticism. Other intellectuals of widely varying persuasions, from outspoken nationalists to Catholic theologians, also participated. The result was a rich but also thoroughly inconclusive discussion, from which no consensus on roads beyond modernity could emerge. -/- Keywords: Modernity; Westernization; nationalism; war; Kyoto School; Japanese Romanticism. (shrink)
This chapter discusses the comparative philosophies of two premier comparativists of postwar Japan, Nakamura Hajime and Izutsu Toshihiko. Both were known as accomplished scholars within their respective fields—Buddhist studies and Indology for Nakamura, and Islamic studies for Izutsu—when they initiated their comparative projects. Each had a distinct vision of what comparison entails and the sort of philosophy it would produce. Nakamura’s project was a world history of ideas that uncovers basic patterns in the unfolding of human thought. Izutsu aims to (...) reconstruct Oriental philosophy on the basis of certain key concepts common to the traditions. The chapter covers the aims, methods, and philosophical achievements of their comparative projects. In their juxtaposition, it makes evident significant differences in their projects, methods, and results. (shrink)
A chapter in the book, Philosophies of Place: An Intercultural Conversation, edited by Peter D. Hershock and Roger T. Ames, and published by University of Hawaii Press. In this chapter I present a phenomenological ontology of place vis-a-vis horizon and also alterity (otherness), discussing related themes in Heidegger, Kitaro Nishida, Shizuteru Ueda, Otto Bollnow, Karl Jaspers, Ed Casey, Günter Figal, Bernhard Waldenfels, and others. Wherever we are we are implaced, delimited in our being-in-the-world constituted by a horizon that implaces us, (...) not only literally but semantically and ontologically. Whether we take place in its semantic sense or as ontological, I underscore its duplicity—taking off from Ueda Shizuteru’s concept of two-fold being-in-the-world—as on the one hand demarcating a realm of determinacy, our ontological finitude or our social imaginary world, and on the other hand through its horizonal nature as pointing to an indeterminacy or exteriority that demarcates or delimits that realm, finitizing us. That latter may be characterized as an excess irreducible to semantic or ontological determination or as a nothing or a-meaning. Hence place with its horizon implies the interface of meaning and a-meaning, nomos and anomy, principles and anarché, in Nishidian terms being and the nothing (mu), in Heideggerian terms unconcealment and concealment or world and earth. Thus the horizon that constitutes place entails both finitude and openness, allowing for alterity and alteration, whereby the determinations within place are never fixed, secure, or guaranteed. In demarcating a place, the horizon always points to a yonder beyond the place, its other. In its very contact with the unassmilable or irreducible, the line of demarcation is itself thus unpredictable in its fluctuations. The place determined within the nothing or the clearing of unconcealment amidst the concealed will thus always be provisional despite any appearance or claims to the contrary. Its determination is indeterminate. (shrink)
Der Band soll beides bieten: Eine möglichst genaue Beschreibung historisch und inhaltlich unbestritten wichtiger Beispiele von Philosophie, Poetik und Literatur in der Geschichte Japans sowie eine Bewertung aus komparativer und allgemein-systematischer Perspektive. Damit soll berechtigten Forderungen nach Kontextualisierung Rechnung getragen werden, aber auch die Frage nach der Qualität der Texte und Theorien Berücksichtigung finden. Thematisch sind u. a. Konfuzianismus, Buddhismus und deren Rolle in der Entwicklung der Menschenrechtsphilosophie in Japan; Religionsphilosophie, Logik, klassische Ästhetik und Literaturtheorie, tragische wie komische Literatur und (...) Haiku."-- Back cover. (shrink)
Why would a philosopher choose to convey his ideas in the form of Manga? This discussion between Masahiro Morioka, author of Manga Introduction to Philosophy, and the translator of its French edition, Pierre Bonneels, shows how philosopher and artist Morioka became acquainted, through images, with fundamental abstract notions. After a short historical analysis of the aesthetic advantages of Manga, consideration is given to this unique way of provoking thought. On this basis, theoretical aspects of “time” and the “I” proposed by (...) Ōmori Shōzō are compared with Morioka’s Manga presentation. Although the questions raised are universal, the authors note that the use of Japanese metaphors enables these two thinkers to draw on a concrete understanding of notions like temporality and identity. (shrink)
This contribution argues that it is misleading to consider Dōgen (1200-1253) a philosopher, in spite of a strong reception of his thought in Japanese and Comparative philosophy since the early 20th century. Dōgen himself gives a decidedly parochial description of his own agenda, and that he considered non-Buddhist views and teachings unworthy of any consideration whatsoever. There are substantial differences between Dōgen's concept of the Buddha Way and philosophy as an open-ended and reasoned discourse on matters of fundamental human concern. (...) Philosophical reception of Dōgen needs to take these differences into account to fully appreciate the challenges posited by his thought. (shrink)
This introductory chapter on concepts of Japanese philosophy and the concomitant approaches to this subject contains 1) a brief critical overview of the term's history and its impact on the definition of the field and 2) a short presentation of the ensuing chapters, which create a sustained dialogue on how to understand Japanese philosophy and how to delineate its his history.
Membership in the Kyoto School of philosophy is defined by both formal and conceptual criteria. Keta Masako 氣多雅子 is a member in good standing in both senses. Formally speaking, she currently occupies the Chair in Religious Studies at Kyoto University.1 This chair, together with the Chair in Philosophy, constitutes the formal nexus of the Kyoto School.2 Keta is the first woman to hold the chair, constellating her in a network that radiates “from the rather substantial circle of students and professors (...) that had formed around Nishida [Kitarō] during his final years at Kyoto and that had continued with Tanabe [Hajime].”3 Conceptually speaking, the Kyoto School is defined by a critical reflection on Asian and European... (shrink)
The essay that follows is, in substance, a lecture delivered in Brussels on 7 December 2016 to the 2nd International Conference of the European Network of Japanese Philosophy. In it I argue that the strategy of qualifying nothingness as an “absolute,” which was adopted by Kyoto School thinkers as a way to come to grips with fundamental problems of Western philosophy, is inherently ambiguous and ultimately weakens the notion of nothingness itself. In its place, a proposal is made to define (...) nothingness in terms of “connectedness.” The discussion is bound on both ends by an apology for transgressing established academic boundaries. On one end, I open with a brief digression on a common ground for philosophies East and West as a mestizaje to which no tradition can claim dominance. On the other, I close with an appeal for restoring respect for the role of mythical narration as a way to bridge the connection between theory and practice without having to revert to moral absolutes, particularly as it relates to safeguarding this fragile planet of ours from the ongoing sepsis of economic “progress.”. (shrink)
This chapter examines the imagination, its relationship to “common sense,” and its recent development in the notion of the social imaginary in Western philosophy and the contributions Miki Kiyoshi and Nakamura Yūjirō can make in this regard. I trace the historical evolution of the notion of the productive imagination from its seeds in Aristotle through Kant and into the social imagination or imaginary as bearing on our collective being-in-the-world, with semantic and ontological significance, in Paul Ricoeur, Cornelius Castoriadis, and Charles (...) Taylor. The two Japanese philosophers, when brought into dialogue with the above contemporary Western thinkers, can contribute to this recent development of the imagination’s creativity into the collective sphere. Miki shows a connection between the imagination and a certain form-formlessness dynamic he inherits from Nishida. Nakamura in turn points to a connection between imagination and place via his development of the Aristotelian notion of common sense. Both have implications on how we understand the social imaginary. (shrink)
For the ninth volume of Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy, titled bilingually in French and English Philosopher la traduction/Philosophizing translation, most of the contributors wrote their articles in foreign languages. By claiming that philosophy has a fundamental “translation-ness”, the editor believes that we can open Japanese philosophy to pluralistic orientations from the perspective of the thematic of “translation,” and in doing so probe into the essential problems of Japanese philosophy. The pieces collected here focus on questions of translation derived from observations (...) of East Asian history and culture where we can place Japanese philosophy. They provide diverse discourses on philosophical translation. (shrink)
Nishida Kitarô’s is generally depicted as a philosopher of nothingness. In the present paper, I would like to discuss this suggestive but ambiguous characterization, starting the enquiry with the seminal essay he wrote in order to answer to the critique of his celebrated topological logic, by Sôda Kiichirô. Firstly, I focus on the last sections of Nishida’s essay, to make clear in what sense we can still speak of “being” within the frame of such an unfathomable logic of nothingness. In (...) other words, Nishida is a philosopher of nothingness to the extent that he meditates being. Secondly, I demonstrate that the very notions of nothingness and being can be logically articulated through a topo-logy that yields new insights into the idea of “predication”, according to what I call a “second sketch of topo-logization”. Now, what is the ultimate meaning of such a topology for Nishida? Finally, I establish how a painstaking reading of his late 1944 correspondence with Mutai Risaku reveals his unsuspected project of reapprehending metaphysics under the form of “topological logic”, rather than “logic of place” or “place-logic”. -/- 摘要 西田幾多郎通常被描述為「無」的哲學家。左右田喜一郎曾經批評他 著名的拓樸學邏輯，在本文中，筆者先談西田回應左右田的批評，據此討 論「無」這種暗示性但又曖昧不明的描繪。 首先，筆者把重點放在西田這篇文章的最後幾個部分，以便釐清在 「無」這種深不可測的邏輯架構下，如何能繼續討論「存有」。換言之， 西田只在「存有」的思考方面，才稱得上是一位「無」的哲學家。其次， 筆者將具體說明，依照所謂「拓樸化的第二概略」，即可透過一種對「述 詞」的觀念提出新見解的拓樸學，在邏輯上清楚說明「無」與「存有」的 概念。對西田而言，這樣一種拓樸學的終極意義為何？最後，筆者將證 明，只要費心閱讀西田與霧臺理作在一九四四年末期的書信往來，即可理 解他如何在「拓樸學邏輯」，而非「場所邏輯」的形式下，重新理解形上 學。. (shrink)
The author takes a quick look back at his philosophical education and academic interests through the lens of »comparative philosophy« and uncovers a progression of cross-cultural and cross-historical patterns at work, many of them unfolding tacitly beneath the surface. He concludes with a brief listing of five such patterns, culminating in an appeal for a recovery of unified world views shaped within particular traditions but set against the universal backdrop of a common care for the earth.
In an attempt to place Kashiwagi historically, this article traces the formation of his thinking. Despite having inherited his father’s Shin Buddhist temple, Kashiwagi chose to work as a Christian pastor. Later in life he turned his attention to specifically Christian philosophy, but his early exposure to Buddhism as well as a primary education in Confucianism were decisive in shaping his ideas. In this sense, Kashiwagi represents one prototype of Meiji Japan’s adoption of Christianity: having grown up with the writings (...) of Shinran and the Chinese classics, he remained grounded in his own multi-religious and intercultural background without sliding into simple syncretism. From this standpoint he took part in the prevailing controversy over the emperor system. Without compromising his commitments to universal Christian orthodoxy on the one hand, and critical thinking on the other, Kashiwagi argued for the special significance of the emperor, as these pages will document. (shrink)
This paper attempts to locate modern Zen and psychoanalysis in terms of contemporary philosophy of mind, particularly in view of dominant theories of cognitivism that see the mind as informational and material, with meaning being mere information in disguise. Psychoanalysis and modern Zen hold to the contrary view that the mind is “semantic,” not “syntactic,” and that the meanings we have in our heads are not reducible to the physical informational processes from which they have emerged. Meaning, as non-reducible, is (...) infinite and uncaused. However, the structure of meaning entails a split between a knower and what is known. This split creates problems in the mind which can be confronted through more, not less, engagement with the meanings in our minds, until we are self-aware and, perhaps, self-identical, with the mechanisms of consciousness that produce the meanings in our head. Such self-awareness is seen as being self-liberating rather than self-reducing. (shrink)
RESUMO Este artigo circunscreve a noção de nada absoluto cunhada pela Escola de Kyoto, na intenção de analisar tanto a possibilidade de que exista uma relação intrínseca entre a experiência da linguagem japonesa e essa tentativa contemporânea e historicamente única de realizar um pensamento que conjunte as tradições ocidentais e orientais da filosofia, quanto as diferenças de abordagens filosóficas internas à própria Escola. ABSTRACT The purpose of this article is to circumscribe the notion of absolute nothingness created by Kyoto School. (...) The intention is to analyze not only if there is an intrinsic relation between the experience of the Japanese language and the contemporary and historically unique attempt of performing a thought that links the philosophical tradition of both West and East, but also if there are different philosophical approaches in the inner of the Kyoto School itself. (shrink)
In 1927 Nishida Kitarô wrote a response to the critique of Sôda Kiichirô, represents an unprecedented occasion to rebuild, in a suggestive way, his "topological logic" – an expression to be discussed in this paper –, in particular concerning the quirks of a certain kind of metaphysics. More positively, it helps us to cast some light on his understanding of the history of German Philosophy since Kant. Taking this essay as a cornerstone, I would like to take the opportunity to (...) synthetize, in English, the core of my interpretation in this field, centred on the distinction between ontology, mê-ontology, and logic, if not metaphysics, of absolute nothingness. What is more, I will interrelate certain schemes in Nishida and Merleau-Ponty, especially the idea of "making". I focus here on the first two sections of the essay, as I attempt to untangle the intricate conceptual relations between self-awakening and nothingness. Firstly, I explore the significant shift from epistemology to psychology, casting a new light on the relation of Nishida to metaphysics. Secondly, I reconsider his idea of overcoming ontology, distinguishing what I call "a first sketch of topologization. (shrink)
The essay is a written version of a talk Nakamura Yūjirō gave at the Collège international de philosophie in Paris in 1983. In the talk Nakamura connects the issue of common sense in his own work to that of place in Nishida Kitarō and the creative imagination in Miki Kiyoshi. He presents this connection between the notions of common sense, imagination, and place as constituting one important thread in contemporary Japanese philosophy. He begins by discussing the significance of place (basho) (...) that is being rediscovered today in response to the shortcomings of the modern Western paradigm, and discusses it in its various senses, such as ontological ground or substratum, the body, symbolic space, and linguistic or discursive topos in ancient rhetoric. He then relates this issue to the philosophy of place Nishida developed in the late 1920s, and after providing an explication of Nishida’s theory, discusses it further in light of some linguistic and psychological theories. Nakamura goes on to discuss his own interest in the notion of common sense traceable to Aristotle and its connection to the rhetorical concept of topos, and Miki’s development of the notion of the imagination in the 1930s in response to Nishida’s theory. And in doing so he ties all three—common sense, place, and imagination—together as suggestive of an alternative to the modern Cartesian standpoint of the rational subject that has constituted the traditional paradigm of the modern West. (shrink)
The essay is a written version of a talk Nakamura Yūjirō gave at the College international de philosophie in Paris in 1983. In the talk Nakamura connects the issue of common sense in his own work to that of place in Nishida Kitarō and the creative imagination in Miki Kiyoshi. He presents this connection between the notions of common sense, imagination, and place as constituting one important thread in contemporary Japanese philosophy. He begins by discussing the significance of place (basho) (...) that is being rediscovered today in response to the shortcomings of the modern Western paradigm, and discusses it in its various senses, such as ontological ground or substratum, the body, symbolic space, and linguistic or discursive topos in ancient rhetoric. He then relates this issue to the philosophy of place Nishida developed in the late 1920s, and after providing an explication of Nishida’s theory, discusses it further in light of some linguistic and psychological theories. Nakamura goes on to discuss his own interest in the notion of common sense traceable to Aristotle and its connection to the rhetorical concept of topos, and Miki’s development of the notion of the imagination in the 1930s in response to Nishida’s theory. And in doing so he ties all three—common sense, place, and imagination—together as suggestive of an alternative to the modern Cartesian standpoint of the rational subject that has constituted the traditional paradigm of the modern West. (shrink)
To answer the question of whether there is such a thing as Japanese philosophy, and what its characteristics might be, scholars have typically used Western philosophy as a measure to examine Japanese texts. This article turns the tables and asks what Western thought looks like from the perspective of Japanese philosophy. It uses Japanese philosophical sources as a lens to bring into sharper focus the qualities and biases of Greek-derived Western philosophy. It first examines questions related to the reputed sole (...) origin and the nature of philosophy in ancient Greece. Using the analyses of Robert Bernasconi, it concludes that this reputation is a bias instilled by philosophers such as Hegel in the modern era. It then uses the scholarship of Pierre Hadot to show that Greek philosophy was not argumentative discourse for its own sake, but a way of life where reason was in the service of spiritual progress. This suggests a definition broad enough to accommodate Asian and other non-Western philosophies. Under the lens of Japanese philosophy, however, Greek-based Western philosophy often displays a double detachment, from everyday life and from embodied existence. In contrast, Japanese Buddhist and Confucian philosophies evince an appreciation of embodied existence in the ordinary world. The article raises several questions for further investigation in the prospect that the lens of Japanese philosophy can refocus the task of philosophizing today. (shrink)
In this essay I will illustrate how a Japanese philosopher reacted to a newly imported discipline, “bioethics,” in the 1980s and then tried to create an alternative way of looking at “life” in the field of philosophy. This essay might serve as an interesting case study in which a contemporary “western” way of thinking succeeded in capturing, but finally failed to persuade, a then-young Japanese researcher’s mind.
This essay examines how the standpoint of the gaijin (foreigner) shapes and challenges the act of philosophizing, through the experience of overwhelming cultural difference. I examine three challenges the foreigner faces—the need to understand a foreign culture, the need to contribute to a foreign culture, and the need for caution and self-awareness vis-à-vis the excesses and dangers of this attempt. -/- First, through a reading of Thomas Kasulis’ Intimacy or Integrity: Philosophy and Cultural Difference (2002), I take the reader through (...) the experience of trying to understand a foreign culture by examining the kind of relationships that are prioritized in a particular culture. Kasulis discusses intimacy-oriented cultures as those that stress internal relationships between interdependent individuals, and integrity-oriented cultures as those that stress external relationships between autonomous individuals. He then shows how this affects the way this influences the worldview and norms of a particular culture. -/- Next, through a reading of various writings of Watsuji Tetsurô on culture and ethics, I explore the attempt to go beyond cultural difference—seeking a universal standpoint from which one can contribute to or criticize another culture despite cultural difference. I discuss the relationship Watsuji presents between universal ethics and national morality in his “Theory of National Morals” (1932), and connect it with his project in Ethics (1937, 1942/46, 1949) that tries to resolve the contradiction between individuality (integrity) and totality (intimacy) through a “dual-negative structure.” -/- Finally, through an examination of Sakai Naoki’s Translation and Subjectivity: On “Japan” and Cultural Nationalism (1997), I explore the dangers latent in Kasulis’ and Watsuji’s approach. I delve into the danger of schematizing “us vs. them” or “gaijin vs. nihonjin,” which can be present in the attempt to understand cultures. Then I examine Sakai’s warning as to the danger of trying to have a universal standpoint and its tendency to deny the embeddedness of one’s position. -/- Through a dialogue with these three thinkers, I thus attempt to explore in a relatable but nuanced way, what it might mean for the foreigner to confront cultural difference in a manner that both respects cultural difference but transcends it. (shrink)