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1. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 8
Shinji Hamauzu

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2. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 8
Jason M. Wirth

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This essay argues for the importance of Nishitani Keiji’s thought as a critical resource to confront what the unfolding ecological crisis reveals about who and what we are. The first part considers the importance of “nature” for Nishitani that accords with insights that both resonate with his Zen practice and heritage, and which open up tacit dimensions of the Jōdo Shin (True Pure Land) tradition. The second section turns to Nishitani’s highly original Zen “existentialization” of science in general, and by extension, contemporary climate science in particular, in order to highlight Nishitani’s Great Death as a response to the unfolding ecological catastrophe. In treating climate science as a kōan, we not only come to see who we are, but also come undone and awaken to a new relation to the Great Earth.

3. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 8
Richard Stone

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In this contribution, I seek to highlight two different understandings of the self that can be found in Nishida Kitarō’s An Inquiry into the Good and show how they relate to one another to form a novel view of selfhood. As several scholars are already aware, Nishida appears inconsistent about how he describes terms relating to our “true” self in his early work, discussing it both as a particular state of consciousness in which unity between subject and object has been achieved and the fundamental activity that generates meaning in otherwise mute experience. While most interpreters have tended to limit themselves to mentioning only one outlook on the self or the other (or otherwise to taking the apparent inconsistency in Nishida’s earliest thought as a sign that he had yet to reach philosophical maturity), I believe this is a mistake. Indeed, as I shall argue in this contribution, Nishida’s early philosophy can only be read fruitfully if these two seemingly different interpretations of the “true self” are reconciled with one another.

4. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 8
Itsuki Hayashi

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“Atsumori” is a Noh play composed by master playwright Zeami sometime before 1423, featuring characters from the Tales of the Heike. Although popular to this day, the philosophical significance of the play remains underdeveloped and underappreciated. Prima facie, it features a ghost who is liberated thanks to the sincere prayer of the priest who killed him. Simplistic reading would yield simplistic understanding of the characters and their dynamism, and would fail to appreciate, for instance, the agency of the ghost or the liberation of the priest. Accordingly, some regard the play as falling short of the highest aesthetic value, insofar as its protagonist fails to attain liberation through his own effort. Some even contend that the ulterior purpose of the play is to portray ghosts as powerless and desperate so that vanquishers need not fear vengeful ghosts. While it is possible that Zeami indeed held such ulterior intention and regarded it as second rank for the protagonist’s lack of agency, I shall present a different reading that would yield a richer appreciation of the characters and their dynamism. I do so by regarding the “friendship of dharma” that occurs at the culmination of the play as “existential communion” as presented in Tanabe Hajime’s later philosophy. That is, the play need not be read as a story about a living priest saving a dead warrior—it can be read as about two lost souls saving each other, through mutual acceptance, mutual sacrifice, and collaborative mediation of the Absolute. For this purpose, the paper first delineates Tanabe’s later philosophy with a focus on the idea of existential communion. Then it introduces “Atsumori” and discusses its philosophical significance. An impasse due to the scope of the play will be identified, which I call “the problem of epistemic authority,” and to fill the gap I will introduce and discuss another spin-off story featuring Atsumori. The paper intends to offer a philosophically richer reading of the play to invite readers to think deeply and creatively about Noh.

5. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 8
Yi Chen, Boris Steipe

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Confucian state doctrines have shaped Asian cultures for millennia as prescriptive codes of conduct with an emphasis on hierarchy and obligation. Yet a premise at the core of lǐ (禮)—understood as propriety, ritual, or generally a cultural grammar—is authenticity, and authentic respect cannot be commanded. What if the lǐ were to be elegant instead? Hans-Georg Gadamer analyzed play as a fusion of horizons that are absorbed into the same event, co-constituting subject and object in an aesthetic experience, and dissolving their dichotomy. We consider examples from Japanese aesthetics in this framework to give depth to key Confucian concepts: the values that enable a relationality that is not in conflict with autonomy; the points of reference for self-improvement through culture; a social organization that enacts reciprocity; and the essential posture this requires. The radical simplicity of the philosophy of tea, chanoyu, and the aesthetic refinement of the Katsura Rikyū palace illuminate the principle of emotional resonance in encounters, which underlies the fusion of cognitive, ethical, and aesthetic horizons. This view reveals how the relational premise of the Confucian philosophical system entails an ontological commitment to mutuality. This is indeed ethics, but neither particularism nor generalism; in its aesthetic dimension it is the mode of perception of a self fulfilled in play.

book review

6. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 8
Laÿna Droz

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7. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 8
John Krummel

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8. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 8
Leah Kalmanson

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9. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7

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10. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7
Masakatsu Fujita

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Hung Yao-hsün is the founder of philosophical research in Taiwan. He is strongly inf luenced by Mutai Risaku, who is a disciple of Nishida Kitarō and the first philosophy professor at Taihoku Imperial University. I will discuss how Hung developed his thoughts and philosophical research in Taiwan, and what the role of Japanese philosophy was. In his first essay titled “Philosophical Problems Today,” Hung Yao-hsün praised Heidegger’s philosophy of “existence.” However, Hung later criticized Heidegger’s philosophy, claiming that contradiction and negativity in dialectics are not sufficiently considered. This criticism shows Hung’s influence from Mutai Risaku. In “Art and Philosophy (Especially on Their Relationship to Historical Society),” Hung emphasizes the importance of a real foundation (species as substratum) in the development of literature and art. This is based on Tanabe’s “logic of species.” The significance of Hung Yao-hsün’s thought does not lie in his understanding of Tanabe’s notion of species as a mere logical mediation, but in the interpretation of the species as an “actual foundation of life” and in the idea of cultural creation based on the historical and social characteristics of Taiwan.

11. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7
Chin-Ping Liao

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Before Being and Time was published, Heidegger’s philosophy had been introduced to East Asia by Tanabe Hajime, one of the founding fathers of the Kyoto school of philosophy. The very first idea introduced to Japanese academia was the new turn from Husserl’s phenomenology of pure consciousness to Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology. The purpose of this paper is to clarify the process of reception and transformation of Heidegger’s philosophy in Tanabe Hajime’s and Hung Yao-hsün’s philosophy, and to unveil the historical episode of the heterogeneity of Heidegger’s philosophy in East Asia.

12. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7
Yoshinobu Shino

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Hung Yao-hsün is one of founders of modern Taiwanese philosophy. He was educated in philosophy in Japan, the suzerain, and published several articles in Japanese. He developed his study under the influence of contemporary Japanese scholars such as Nishida Kitarō, Tanabe Hajime, Watsuji Tetsurō, Mutai Risaku, and so on. His main concern resided in the ontological relation between the individual and the world, and “existence” was a keyword throughout his life. However, he avoided using it in his articles entitled “Art and Philosophy” and “On Climatic Surroundings and Culture,” written in 1936. In these papers, alluding to an idea of Tanabe, Hung discussed the role of “the specific substance” which served to mediate the individual and the world. Referring to the analysis of Watsuji on fūdo (climatic surroundings and culture), he mentioned the specific status of Taiwan in this context, but he could only find its historical peculiarities. This meant an approval of Japanese rule on Taiwan at that time. It is perhaps in order to avoid this conclusion that Hung introduced the idea of “the logic of the expressive world” by Mutai, who criticized Tanabe’s logic of the specific. After these two papers, Hung returned to devote himself to the problem of existence. The development of his study reflects the contemporary discussion of Japanese scholars and provides a perspective for rethinking the “Japanese philosophy.”

13. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7
Tzu-Wei Hung

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Hung Yao-hsün (1903–1986) is one of the most creative, albeit long overlooked, thinkers in Japanese-ruled Taiwan (1895–1945). This paper’s aim is threefold. It first argues that while Hung’s early philosophy was rooted in the Kyoto school, he is a key founder of the Sit-chûn movement of Taiwanese philosophy. It next shows that during Taiwan’s martial law (1949–1987), Hung’s thought features a “Buddhist turn,” in which Zen is incorporated within existentialism. Third, while this turn is a sharp contrast to his prewar philosophical activism, Hung’s last work stressed Abraham Kaplan’s (1918–1993) view that philosophy should be connected to one’s life experience, echoing Hung’s prewar usage of fūdo in justifying Taiwan’s cultural subjectivity. In other words, there is an implicit continuity between his early and late philosophy.

14. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7
Yao-hsün Hung

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book review

15. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7
Feng-Wei Wu

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16. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7
Mara Miller

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conference report

17. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 7
Ralf Müller

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The conference in a nutshell: philosophy in times of crises returned to a crisis in philosophy. The pandemic throws us back on our feet and makes us rethink the question raised at the Davos Disputation between Martin Heidegger and Ernst Cassirer in 1929: “What is a human being?” While both had agreed that the initial question was the crucial question to tackle, neither of them could put forth a solution to the question given that their own thought paths proved to have led them into a dead end and to the necessity to turn in a new direction in order to overcome a philosophical crisis. So, in 2020, why not move beyond the scope of this German–German disputation in Davos, and even beyond the horizon of Europe to look for new pathways of thought?

18. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 6
Thomas P. Kasulis

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There is no arguing the impact of Inoue Tetsujirō on the development of philosophy in Japan from the Meiji Restoration through the end of the Pacific War. He was the first Japanese to receive a doctorate in philosophy from Germany and the first native-born chair of the philosophy department at Tokyo Imperial University, the training center for almost all the major Japanese philosophers who graduated before 1915. Inoue was instrumental in making German idealism the Western philosophy of choice for Japan, but he also appreciated Asian traditions as well, having no qualms about claiming there was true philosophy in India, China, and premodern Japan. He set the foundation for academic philosophy in Japan not so much through his own rather simplistic personal philosophy, but especially through his contributions to the organization of the field. This article focuses mainly on Inoue’s troubled relation with Confucianism. On one hand, in seeking a premodern philosophy to serve as the bedrock for modern Japan, Inoue looked to the Edo-period (1601–1868) Confucian traditions originating in China. He divided them into Shushigaku (朱子学, the Zhu Xi school), Yōmeigaku (陽明学, the Wang Yangming school), and what he named Kogaku (古学), the school focusing on classical texts preceding neo-Confucian developments and interpretations. In many respects, like so many others of his generation, Inoue was by training and personal preference a Confucian. That is not the whole story, however. Inoue understood Confucianism’s primary purpose as cultivating the social values and order that would ensure an efficient society of human flourishing, stability, and harmony. Yet, he also likely suspected that the people of the new Japan, with its modernization and plethora of Western ideas, would not unquestioningly accept the authority of the Confucian classics, nor be willing to undertake the rigors of textual study that are the hallmark of the Confucian scholar. In Edo-period Japan, that study had been the responsibility of the samurai class, but in their democratization program, the Meiji reformers had abolished the old class system. Education of the young would now shift from the Confucian academies to the new public school system. Always cooperative with the government to the point of being obsequious, Inoue took a leading role in the National Morality program and its installment in the nationwide school curriculum. That curriculum combined a Shinto-based reverence for the sacred nature of the emperor in the kokutai (国体) ideology along with practical moralistic values that could be loosely called Confucian. Yet, if schooling for most was limited to the elementary level and if there was no longer a samurai class to oversee the moral behavior of the society, who could nurture and enforce the moral order? Through a set of fortuitous events, Inoue “discovered” bushidō (武士道), the Way of the warrior. If there were no longer a samurai warrior class, perhaps all Japanese could become de facto samurai—at least in their mindset. Most may no longer have the scholarly skills and time to glean their spiritual and moral insights from Confucian texts. Yet, they could find the virtues of loyalty, sincerity, filiality, and compliance with seniority within the distinctively mindful heart and spirit of ancient Japan carried within the Japanese bloodline. What happened to the Confucianism of Inoue Tetsujirō? Some of its values were absorbed into bushidō and National Morality, but the praxis of the Confucian scholar and the ideal of the kunshi (君子) seem to have been lost, much to Japan’s detriment.

19. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 6
Augustin Berque

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A transmodern conception of nature is proposed, sublating (aufhebend) the Aristotelian logic of the identity of the subject and the Nishidian paleologic of the identity of the predicate, and discussing, as concrete examples, Imanishi’s theory of evolution and Fukuoka’s natural farming.

20. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 6
Takahiro Nakajima

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Japanese Modernity questioned the relationship between religion and the state. By referring to Confucianism, Japanese philosophers tried to give answers to this question. Inoue Enryō tried to establish an officially recognized religion that could be represented in Buddhism or Shintoism. Confucianism was excluded then. However, with the enactment of the Imperial Rescript on Education (1890), the situation would change: Confucianism, along with Shintoism, was introduced as the foundation of national morality. Following this, Nishida Kitarō emphasized the role of religion instead of morality to support the foundation of a nation. In this vein, Buddhism and Confucianism played an important role of religion in Nishida’s discourse. Inoue Tetsujirō took an ambiguous attitude to religion and morality. In contrast to Nishida, he regarded morality as having a status higher than religion. Nonetheless, he still thought Confucianism had some religious aspect. Hattori Unokichi radicalized moralization in the claim that Confucianism was a teaching of morality without any aspect of religion. By dereligionizing Confucianism, he tried to reappropriate Confucianism in Japan. From these different approaches to religion and morality as the possible foundations of the nation-state, we can find different philosophical understandings of Confucianism in modern Japan.