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book review

41. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 5
Matthew Fujimoto

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42. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 4

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43. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 4
Kōjin Karatani, Cheung Ching-yuen

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Mobility is the key to overcoming the capital-nation-state. It can be divided into two types: the mobility of pastoral nomads and original hunter-gatherers. It is impossible for us to find a society of nomadic hunter-gatherers in today’s world, but we can have a thought experiment by observing existing wandering band societies. Yanagita Kunio is a thinker in Japan who drew attention to nomads. He has examined various types of nomads since his earlier years but is ridiculed for insisting on the existence of mountain nomads. Nonetheless, he has never given up on the reality of mountain nomads. Even though he later focuses on farmers with fixed settlements, or the common people, he still continues his search for the possibility of the existence of mountain nomads. Eventually, he came to look for traces of mountain nomads in indigenous beliefs. These indigenous beliefs were not limited to the Japanese.

44. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 4
Toshiaki Kobayashi, John W. M. Krummel

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In this article Kobayashi Toshiaki discusses the importance in all periods of Karatani’s oeuvre of the notion of an “exterior” that necessarily falls beyond the bounds of a system, together with the notion of “singularity” as that which cannot be contained within a “universal.” The existential dread vis-à-vis the uncanny other that Karatani in his early works of literary criticism had initially found to be the underlying tone in Sōseki’s works remained with Karatani himself throughout his career and is what had drawn him closer to philosophy. This sense of the “exterior” to—or other than—the normality of consciousness and the meaningfulness of the world is then extended and applied as the “exterior to systems” in his analyses of logical, mathematical, and linguistic systems, in his reading of Marx’s discussion of capitalist economics, and most recently in his analysis of commodity exchange between communities.

45. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 4
Joel Wainwright

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This article examines Karatani’s 2014 book, The Structure of World History, aiming to clarify its sweeping philosophical argument in one respect. Among the many ways that we can appreciate Structure is to read it as the elaboration of a profoundly spatial interpretation of our world’s history. In making this claim I am not suggesting that Karatani simply emphasizes space over time, which is not so. Rather, I contend that many of the book’s achievements are best grasped by reading the book as a work of geography. To be sure, geography, as typically understood by academic geographers, is largely absent from Structure: there are no maps and the word “geography” is only used once. Moreover, Karatani never claims to have found the spatial structure of history. Rather, my claim is that the analysis of world history in Structure is acutely spatially sensitive—particularly with regard to the repetition of sociospatial forms through modes of exchange (which effectively comprise the “structure” of the book’s title)—and that this sensitivity grounds Karatani’s radical reinterpretation of Marxism. Structure thereby provides a spatially informed theory of the historical processes that have made this world as such, one that refuses the telos of capital-nation-state. The result is a revolutionary, geographical philosophy of world history.

46. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 4
Tadao Uemura

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At times in the world of thought, a moment comes that compels us to try a fatal jump. The “turn” that Karatani Kōjin attempted in his Investigations I (1986) may be one such case. It is accomplished in the way of “transcendence through the transversal to the outside” in his Transcritique: Kant and Marx (2001). I want to pay, however, attention rather to the fact that, previous to his “turn,” Karatani aimed at exactly the radicalization of introspection during the period from “Introspection and Retrospection” (1980) to “Language, Number, and Money” (1983). It is true that Karatani’s analysis is driven to the wall as it goes, and it is suddenly interrupted halfway. But this does not mean that all Karatani’s efforts of the radicalization of introspection were in vain. As Asada Akira says, we recognize that “an event that is worthy to be called authentically thinking was experienced once at least in our days.”

47. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 4
Kanishka Goonewardena

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First, this article seeks to demonstrate why Karatani Kōjin’s The Structure of World History offers a unique and pioneering contribution to Marxist theory in particular and radical thought more generally. In so doing, it examines Karatani’s key conceptual innovations that enable to him to open up a novel perspective on world history and propose a revolutionary political program—one drawing from Kantian anarchism as much as Marxian communism. Particular attention is paid to the central concept that Karatani deploys in this work—exchange or intercourse, which is derived from Marx’s use of the term Verkehr—in order to examine critically the formidable case he makes for replacing the classical Marxist concept of the “mode of production” with the “mode of exchange.” The article argues that Karatani’s novelty and attraction lies in his production of a new concept of history by means of a new concept of social totality, which invites him to be read alongside other leading thinkers in the orbit of Marxism such as Hegel, Althusser, Braudel, and Lefebvre. In conclusion, the article highlights an illuminating ambiguity in Karatani’s conception of exchange, arguing that it is in the light of this that his political conclusions are most productively studied.

48. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 4
Rika Dunlap

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In this article, I examine Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō to reconsider the notion of hope, many discourses of which are characteristically future oriented. Although there is an overwhelming suspicion that hope is incompatible with Buddhism due to its forward-looking nature, I argue that Dōgen’s Buddhist soteriology can establish a present-focused conception of hope that can challenge the dominant discourses of hope. In this comparative analysis, I first examine the conditions for hope and show that most theories regard hope as teleological and future oriented. As Dōgen rejects a linear conception of time, a future-oriented hope collapses in Dōgen’s soteriology. Nevertheless, I argue that Dōgen’s theory of temporality can ascertain a new theory of hope grounded in the interconnectedness of all moments, a present-oriented conception of hope based on the radical teleology established within the moment of the absolute now (nikon). Through an analysis of Dōgen’s soteriology from the perspective of hope, it becomes evident that Dōgen’s theory of temporality creates a space for karmic causality while also emphasizing the non-obstruction between practice and enlightenment. Hence, the notion of hope presents a way in which we can reconcile the apparent contradictions between the twelve-fascicle Shōbōgenzō that emphasizes the former and the seventy-five-fascicle version that advocates the latter. Although hope is not central to Buddhist soteriology, this article shows that it is beneficial to analyze Buddhist teachings from the perspective of hope, for not only does it offer a new insight to the growing philosophical discourses on hope, but it also presents a way in which we can reconcile the contradictions within Dōgen’s various writings.

49. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 4
Ralf Müller

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50. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 3
James W. Heisig

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In philosophical circles at home and abroad, Tanabe’s work has attracted far less attention than that of others in the Kyoto School. The rarefied and abstract cast of his prose often impedes contact with the underlying, existential questions that drove him. This is nowhere more apparent than in the way he treats art and the mind of the artist in his mature work. After a review of Tanabe’s comments on aesthetics in his Collected Works, the premises in his general philosophy on which they rely and the questions they neglect, this article suggests that that we cannot stop at accusing him of failing to draw direct, essential con­nections between artistic sensibility and the guiding principles of his logic, but must attend to the dimly felt presence of an aesthetic at work beneath the surface of Tanabe’s very mode of thought.

51. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 3
Shigenori Nagatomo

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Dōgen’s treatment of evil starts with a reflection on four statements found in the Pali Buddhist Cannon, namely, “Do no evil, Do good, and Purify the mind. This is the teaching of the Buddhas.” In order to grasp his philosophical reflection on evil, we must cast our inquiry within the wider issues that conceptually frame these four statements; namely, the idea of karmic retribution and an agent trapped in it. This requires us to clarify why “do no evil” precedes “do good,” and why there is a demand to “purify the mind.” The first two injunctions deal with an issue of human nature, and the third with the practice of Zen meditation, which is Dōgen’s method for “purify[ing] the mind.” His reflection on medi­tation experiences enabled him to discover how “do no evil” changes into “nonproduction of evil.” Dōgen’s contention then is that “do no evil” as an ethical imperative transforms into “nonproduction of evil.” Therefore, an ethical imperative as understood by an ordinary person is not the true intent of the above injunction for a practicing Buddhist. This is because the practice of meditation renders a practicing Buddhist inca­pable of producing evil. “Nonproduction of evil” describes an achieved state of personhood. It is for Dōgen a term of achievement, that is, a transformative process reached from a prescriptive imperative to a state descriptive of embodied, meditational experience. With this transforma­tion, one comes to understand “the teaching of the Buddhas.”

52. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 3
Rein Raud

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The article approaches the interpretation of the principle of karma as suggested in a sideline in Watsuji Tetsurō’s early reading of the phi­losophy of Dōgen: Karma is the historic, conditioned origin of how our being is enacted at every single instant, of which each individual is the constantly renewed product. In a sense, any sentient existence in the world is thus karmic because it has a history. The consequences of the problem thus posed are explored in the context of the question of subjectivity, causality, and free will, reformulated here as the prob­lem of “genuine choice,” the position where different inputs, such as desires, moral codes, and duties, prompt a person to choose between contradictory courses of action. The results of this analysis are then used to develop a rationalistic reading of one of Dōgen’s key terms, shinjin datsuraku (“casting off the bodymind”), building on Tsujiguchi Yūichirō’s recent work, as the refusal of a person to succumb to her primary karmic determination or to follow the most readily available course of action that her biological, social, and mental structures propose to her.

53. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 3
Eiji Suhara

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This research offers a fresh perspective helpful in navigating the debate in modern Japanese scholarship of the so-called nembutsu = magic debate. According to the majority of scholars, Shinran had no need to embrace the practice of “magical” recitation in his Pure Land soteriology that emphasized faith, but chose to keep it only because of his respect for Hōnen. I argue, on the contrary, that Shinran was following Hōnen’s intention to make use of the “magical function” of recitation practice, brought about through Pure Land metaphors and syntactic rhetorics, as a tool for training people incapable of performing the mental act of contemplation practice.

54. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 3
Takeshi Mitsuhara

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This article clarifies the role Husserl’s philosophy plays in the development of Nishida’s philosophy between 1911 and 1917. During this period, Nishida formulates his thought against Rickert’s and Takahashi’s view that sharply distinguishes the transcendence of meaning from mental process. In doing so, showing the mutual dependence of the “transcendent” and the “immanent” was neces­sary. Nishida believes that Husserl’s idea of the mutual dependence of act-matter and act-quality could highlight the mutual dependence of the “transcendent” and the “immanent.” Consequently, Nishida attempts to develop his thought with the help of Husserl’s philoso­phy, which brings about a change in Nishida’s thought. First, Nishida develops his philosophy on the basis of the mutual dependence of act-matter and act-quality in intentional experience. Second, Nishida tries to elucidate the qualitative difference in self-awareness with the concept of act-quality. In addition, Nishida understands the qualita­tive difference as that of various worlds based on Husserl’s view of the constitution of various worlds. Finally, Nishida argues for the unity of worlds through the will, under the influence of Husserl’s assertion concerning the connection of various worlds through the “I.”

55. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 3
Steve Odin

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56. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Yasunari Takada

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57. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Michiko Yusa

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In order to clarify Nishida’s notion of topos (basho), I trace its forma­tion, starting with the notion of “pure experience,” of which he says: “To experience is to know the thing as it is.” By taking the act of “to know” as the thread that connects the ideas of pure experience and topos, I examine his early writings leading up to 1929, going beyond 1926, when Nishida’s essay “Basho” was published. Over against the commonly held “objectified” view of the topos as a “location” or “field” in which the individual exists, a radically ontological reading of this notion emerges, requiring us to shift the vantage point from which we approach it. I conclude that Nishida introduced into his philosophi­cal system a locative dimension as an ontological feature, and we, con­scious beings, exist in this world “topologically” (bashoteki). The topos refers to the very logico-ontological mode of our being.In order to clarify what knowledge is, we need to begin with [the investigation of] reflective consciousness (jikakuteki ishiki 自覚的意識), rather than starting out with intellectual judgment (handan 判断). Consciousness pertaining to judgment cannot include the one [who judges] within it. It is an incomplete awareness that looks at the self externally. The explanation of how we know begins with the critical reflection of self-consciousness itself (jikaku jishin no jisei 自覚自身の自省). Therein, we obtain the standpoint of genuine epistemology.Our real knowledge starts out with “I exist.” That “I exist” means that the topos is directly in the topos, and this is the standpoint of both inner perception and actual experience (taiken 体験).

58. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Laura Specker Sullivan

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Throughout his entire career, Nishida Kitarō was, arguably, inter­ested in challenging Immanuel Kant’s formulation of the moral will. In his first work, An Inquiry into the Good, he criticizes Kant’s pure practical reason as idealistic, arguing that the good should be understood not in terms of an abstract, formal relation of reason with itself, but in terms of personality as a single, unique, unifying power that is the true reality of the self. He echoes this language in his last work, “The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious Worldview,” proposing that the personal self exists as a self-determining individual through creative expression. This article will investigate how Nishida’s development of this concept of the personal self grounds his proposal that the goal of the moral will is realization of the good as a personal, rather than abstract, ideal, through the intentional action of active intuition.

59. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Katsuya Akitomi

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Nishitani Keiji (1900–1990) is well known as a leading representative of the Kyoto School. His main contributions are in the field of reli­gious philosophy based on Maha-ya-na Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism, as his main works Religion and Nothingness (1961) and The Standpoint of Zen (1986) indicate. It may seem incongruous to asso­ciate Nishitani’s name with a discussion on science and technology. But it was this relationship to science, that is to say, the relationship between religion and science, to which Nishitani mostly directed his interests which gradually led him to the study of technology itself.In this article, I have relied on Nishitani’s main work Religion and Nothingness to ascertain how he interpreted the conflict between religion and science in relation to nihility and then consider his insights on technology. The appearance of the mechanistic view of modern science connected with mechanical technology and the ten­dency toward the mechanization of man permeate increasingly not only the social structures but the inner life of man. At the same time, the individual is transformed into a subject in pursuit of his desires with a sense of meaninglessness. The nihility which modern science and technology produced ultimately turns into “emptiness” (空 Śūnyatā). The main concern here is how the problems of science and technology can be understood from the standpoint of “empti­ness.” Nishitani’s work that I mentioned above, however, does not necessarily deal with this question directly. Thus, I chose another treatise from the same period, “Science and Zen” (1960), and approached the problem of science from the standpoint of empti­ness. Nishitani quotes a Zen Buddhist discussion about the “big fire” of space. It considers the position of the real self in the big fire that extinguishes all things. This reference to the big fire in space seems metaphorical but it is also scientifically plausible. Death is also a scientific actuality in space from a certain perspective. To take this actuality seriously as a problem of existence means, “the existential­izing of science” (科学を実存すること). It means to take outer space with its face of death as a place of death in the religious sense. This has been called “the Great Death” (大死) in Zen Buddhism, which is nothing other than conversion in a religious existence. At the same time, in this essay we learn Nishitani’s perspective about nuclear power, which continues to trouble us today. We will also consider “originary imagination” (根源的な構想力) in his last treatise “Kū and Soku” (“Emptiness and Sameness”) (1982) as a possibility for discuss­ing technology in terms of emptiness.

60. Journal of Japanese Philosophy: Volume > 2 > Issue: 1
Raquel Bouso Garcia

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With the expression “apophatic aesthetics,” Amador Vega names dif-ferent cases of twentieth-century hermeneutics of negativity that show a spiritual debt to negative theology and in particular to the major mystical trends of Medieval Europe. Our aim here is to explore how this category applies to the artistic work created by the contemporary artists Arakawa and Gins. However, our focus is not on the debt of these artists to apophatism in the Christian tradition but in Buddhism, especially in Zen. Through an analysis of various artworks, the article intends to determine the reminiscences of the evocation of emptiness in Zen-related arts. By so doing, despite the lack of continuity with tra-dition, it seems possible to uncover certain links with Japanese classic aesthetics. At the same time, since emptiness is a notion revisited in modern Japanese thought, the paper raises the question of its role as an ascetic way of thought, capable of avoiding conceptual limitations and thus opening new paths to philosophy. In this sense, insofar as thinkers well known as critics of modernity, such as Lyotard, Danto, or Taylor, have dialogued with Arakawa and Gins’s artistic proposal, a connection between certain aspects of Japanese philosophy and socalled postmodern thought is suggested.