The first of 3 volumes of essays on Japanese philosophy, this work brings together essays that clarify its heritage and its practice, above all in the dynamic thought of Nishida Kitaro. Showing how philosophy takes shape through the translation of language and culture, the author examines the frameworks that have defined and confined Nishidaâs thought and then charts new avenues of questioning Nishida and letting him question us. How should we envision the world at a time of environmental crisis, how (...) might we rethink our conceptions of history, religion and God; how is bodily awareness a way that the world knows itself, and just what can we make of Nishida's famous notion of nothingnessâthese are some of the questions that guide the meticulous explorations in this collection. (shrink)
The chapters in this book focus on a phenomenon that is named by a conjunction of three terms: Japanese, Buddhist, philosophy. Each of these terms implies a distinction demarcating one domain of inquiry from other related domains: Japanese as distinct from Chinese, Korean, or Indian; Buddhist as distinct from Confucian or Shintō; and philosophy as distinct from religion or psychology. Each of these terms, the three in question as well as their contrasts, reflects a distinctly modern category that abstracts from (...) historical realities that blur the distinctions. With this qualification in mind, this chapter clarifies the terms in question, then selects two themes: language-reality-truth, and the nature of Buddhist practice, and gives a sample of philosophical methods and styles of argumentation that characterize “Japanese Buddhist philosophy.” For the most part, the selection here is limited to examples from pre-modern times, before Japanese Buddhists had encountered western philosophy and began to present Buddhism in its terms. (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)
Dōgen Kigen (1200–1253 ce) is one of the most revered figures in the history of Japanese culture. A Zen master regarded by the Sōtō School as its spiritual founder, Dōgen is also considered by many to be Japan's greatest philosopher. (The other major contender is kūkai, with whose philosophy Dōgen's shares a number of features.) Possessed of a prodigious and subtle intellect, and master of a strikingly poetic style, he surely ranks among the world's most formidable thinkers.
Alterity, the difference that being-other makes, is not an overt theme in the writing of Ueda Shizuteru, and yet by bringing alterity to the fore we are able to connect and examine several themes that Ueda does engage explicitly. It will turn out that several models of alterity are discernable in Ueda’s philosophy, and their common ground opens a mode of being-other that offers an alternative to dominant models of irreducible difference. Ueda’s philosophy of language suggests four alternative configurations that (...) increasingly allow for the dual emergence of authentic otherness and selfhood. Those configurations are intimated in his interpretations of Nishida’s pure experience, of the interplay of language and silence, of a dialogue envisioned in a Zen oxherding picture, and of the poetic form known as linked verse, which best models how discrete beings help create a world in common. (shrink)
In the past three decades in the West, literature about the Kyoto School and translations of its writings have proliferated. Yet the very scholarship that perpetuates the name has also created confusion about its reference. Which thinkers belong to the “Kyoto School”? What do they have in common? Do they represent something we can call Eastern philosophy, which pursues a way of thinking fundamentally different from that of the West? Is the core of that alternative philosophy, or alternative rationality, a (...) notion of absolute nothingness with roots in Buddhism? (shrink)