Japanese and Continental Philosophy
Conversations with the Kyoto School
Publication Year: 2011
Recognizing the importance of the Kyoto School and its influence on philosophy, politics, religion, and Asian studies, Japanese and Continental Philosophy initiates a conversation between Japanese and Western philosophers. The essays in this cross-cultural volume put Kyoto School thinkers in conversation with German Idealism, Nietzsche, phenomenology, and other figures and schools of the continental tradition such as Levinas and Irigaray. Set in the context of global philosophy, this volume offers critical, innovative, and productive dialogue between some of the most influential philosophical figures from East and West.
Published by: Indiana University Press
Series: Studies in Continental Thought
Abbreviations of Works by the Kyoto School
Introduction: Conversations on an Ox Path
The principal aim of this volume is to promote dialogue between Western and Japanese philosophy, and more specifically between Continental philosophy and the Kyoto School. In the West, this dialogue is still at a nascent stage. In Japan, it began with great intensity upon the opening of this Far Eastern island nation to the West in the latter decades of the nineteenth century...
Part 1. The Kyoto School and Dialogue
1 Contributions to Dialogue with the Kyoto School
Since philosophers have often spoken of Greek philosophy, French philosophy, English philosophy, American philosophy, and so on, it would seem plausible to speak of “Japanese philosophy.” Nevertheless, until about twenty or thirty years ago, philosophers in Japan generally did not take this to be a philosophically meaningful locution...
2 Dialogue and Appropriation: The Kyoto School as Cross-Cultural Philosophy
This essay introduces the Kyoto School by way of reflecting on hermeneutical as well as ethical and political issues that are central to the cross-cultural philosophical endeavors of its members, especially Nishida Kitarō and Nishitani Keiji, the pivotal figures of the School’s first two generations. The thematic focus will be on the tension...
3 Tanabe Hajime’s Logic of Species and the Philosophy of Nishida Kitarō
As is well known, Nishida Kitarō and Tanabe Hajime are two of the most prominent philosophers in modern Japan. Tanabe, who succeeded Nishida as head of the Department of Philosophy at Kyoto Imperial University, began his philosophical career under the influence of Nishida. Gradually, however, he became aware of a gap between Nishida’s philosophy
Part 2. Self and World
4 Philosophy as Auto-Bio-Graphy: The Example of the Kyoto School
In the following I would like to attempt to develop the idea of philosophy as auto-bio-graphy in three theses and to do so using the example of the philosophy of the Kyoto School, so that the conception of philosophy as auto-biography can be expounded along with some of the aspects of the philosophy of the Kyoto School...
5 Nishitani after Nietzsche: From the Death of God to the Great Death of the Will
For many, Nietzsche’s proclamation of the “death of God”1 marks a rupture in the history of the West; or at least it exposes a fracture in the ground of Western culture that had been steadily widening since the dawn of modernity. The “God” whose “death” Nietzsche announced is not only the Christian God of revelation...
6 Empty Soul, Empty World: Nietzsche and Nishitani
In Nishida Kitarō, a collection of essays written about his teacher from 1936 to 1968, Nishitani Keiji provides a portrait of Nishida’s most important work, An Inquiry into the Good. For Nishitani, to arrive at the Good entails the deployment of the non-differentiating love of agapē...
7 Ueda Shizuteru’s Phenomenology of Self and World
No account of the Kyoto School is complete without reference to Ueda Shizuteru, the central figure in the School’s current third generation. A direct student of Nishitani’s and the successor to his academic post, Ueda is one of today’s leading authorities on the philosophy of Nishida as well as an expert in Zen Buddhist literature...
Part 3. God and Nothingness
8 Nothing Gives: Marion and Nishida on Gift-giving and God
The Christian philosopher Jean-Luc Marion and the Buddhist philosopher Nishida Kitarō, as vast as their differences may be, have both proposed alternatives to thinking of God in terms of being and thinking of being in terms of ground. They both offer a way out of onto-theology that is markedly different from Heidegger’s. Marion presents the alternative of God...
9 Language Games, Selflessness, and the Death of God: A/Theology in Contemporary Zen Philosophy and Deconstruction
Zen discourses and postmodern philosophy are frequently suspected of being inherently anti-theistic. Their subversive methodologies as well as their nonsubstantial metaphysics seem to be at odds with anything religion is supposed to stand for. But this is not the case. They may “cause,” as John D. Caputo suggests, “a lot of well-deserved trouble to a faith or a religious institution...
10 Buddha and God: Nishida’s Contributions to a New Apocalyptic Theology
Nishida Kitarō is the most distinguished and influential philosopher in the history of modern Japan, and as a founding member of the Kyoto School he has had a great impact upon religious thinking throughout the world. Throughout most of his philosophical career, Nishida was shaped primarily by his response to German philosophy from Leibniz through Husserl...
Part 4. Ethics and Politics
11 Other-Power and Absolute Passivity in Tanabe and Levinas
Nishida Kitarō’s project was, in part, to provide a rational ground for the philosophy of Zen. His junior colleague and successor, Tanabe Hajime, departed however from his focus on Zen and embraced instead the approach of Shinran (1173–1262), the founder of True Pure Land (Jōdo Shin-shū)...
12 Beyond the Binary: Watsuji Testurō and Luce Irigaray on Body, Self, and Ethics
Both Watsuji Tetsurō and Luce Irigaray critique the concepts of selfhood, body, and ethics as they have appeared in traditional Western philosophy. They both argue that Western philosophy has predominately seen self and ethics in binary, limited ways, providing us with theories that do not reflect the fullness of human experience in the world...
13 Overcoming Modernity: A Critical Response to the Kyoto School
The fundamental intention of this essay is the wish to clarify what is meant by the philosophical concept of modernity and what it can possibly mean to speak of “postmodernism,” or even to attempt the “overcoming” of modernity, as a number of Japanese thinkers sought to do in the early 1940s. Indeed, in this context it is extremely important to revive the memory of the ideological...
14 Heidegger and Japanese Fascism: An Unsubstantiated Connection
If one moves in academic circles having to do with modern Japanese political philosophy, it soon becomes clear that Japan’s most renowned thinkers of the twentieth century, members of the so-called Kyoto School, were primarily responsible for “defining the philosophic contours of Japanese fascism,” and that the major impetus for this nefarious project...
Part 5. Grammar, Art, and Imagination
15 The Middle Voice of Emptiness: Nishida and Nishitani
The following attempt to make fruitful a grammatical distinction in Classical Greek and its interpretation relative to the meaning of modern philosophical approaches in Japan is fraught with certain difficulties. In a preliminary fashion, the grammatical form of the middle voice in Classical Greek must first be introduced. In so doing, it will be necessary to interrogate the common interpretations of the middle voice...
16 Truly Nothing: The Kyoto School and Art
This is an essay about the Kyoto School and art. That is to say, it is about the living fruits, the vital traces, of absolutely nothing, of what remains absolutely other to schools, theories, and approaches. Aesthetics is conventionally considered to be an elective problem within philosophy. This essay will contest that claim, as well as the assumptions underlying it...
17 Logos and Pathos: Miki Kiyoshi’s Logic of the Imagination
Miki Kiyoshi’s philosophy is remarkably multifaceted. He exerted a significant influence on the Japanese intellectual world during the period of his thought when he inclined toward Marxism; and yet his first book was A Study of Human Being in Pascal (1926), and his posthumously published work, left behind when he died in prison...
List of Contributors