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1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 6
Dennis Stromback

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It has been common to frame Nishida Kitarō’s philosophy (西田哲学) as an attempt to overcome Western modernity, but what has been downplayed in this reading is how Nishida redefines the concept of religion in a way that undermines the secular-religion binary formulated in Western modernity. Nishida’s view of religion, as both a structuring logic of historical reality and as an existential form of awareness, with its own epistemological criteria, contrasts with Western accounts of religion, which has assumed religion to be a form opposite to the real. By designating religion as a logical category that structures the real, Nishida’s philosophy of religion seeks to liberate the races, cultures, and ethnicities of the world that have been historically subordinated to the West by giving them an epistemological footing to assert and participate in a world dialogue. In this sense, Nishida’s religious standpoint offers a way to think critically about the “problem of religion” and presents a discussion that speaks to some of the issues raised within postcolonial studies.

5. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 6
Zhihua Yao

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In the field of comparative religion, many scholars believe that there are essentially two groups: the historical religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and the mystical religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Daoism. These, respectively, represent the basic spiritual attitude of the Western and Eastern worlds. Is it really the case that the Eastern world knows nothing about history, or is their idea of history different from that of the West? In this article, I will focus on a Japanese philosopher, Keiji Nishitani, a representative of the Kyoto School, and examine his constructive engagement with the Buddhist and Christian ideas of historicity for the purpose of constructing “a proper view of history suitable for future mankind.” I will unfold this “proper” view of history in three parts: 1) time: linear or circular; 2) history and karma; 3) eschatology and nirvāṇa.

book review

6. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 6
Edward Vickers

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7. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 6
Steffen Döll

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