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Letting Go Cover

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Letting Go

Peter Haskel (trans.)

Of the many eccentric figures in Japanese Zen, the Soto Zen master Tosui Unkei (d. 1683) is surely among the most colorful and extreme. Variously compared to Ryokan and Francis of Assisi, Tosui has been called "the original hippie." After many grueling years of Zen study and the sanction of a distinguished teacher, Tosui abandoned the religious establishment and became a drifter. The arresting details of Tosui's life were recorded in the Tribute (Tosui osho densan), a lively and colloquial account written by the celebrated scholar and Soto Zen master Menzan Zuiho. Menzan concentrates on Tosui's years as a beggar and laborer, recounting episodes from an unorthodox life while at the same time opening a new window on seventeenth-century Japan. The Tribute is translated here for the first time, accompanied by woodblock prints commissioned for the original 1768 edition. Peter Haskel's introduction places Tosui in the context of the Japanese Zen of his period--a time when the identities of early modern Zen schools were still being formed and a period of spiritual crisis for many distinguished monks who believed that the authentic Zen transmission had long ceased to exist. A biographical addendum offers a detailed overview of Tosui's life in light of surviving premodern sources.

Levinas and Asian Thought Cover

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Levinas and Asian Thought

edited by Leah Kalmanson, Frank Garrett & Sarah Mattice

While influential works have been devoted to comparative studies of various Asian philosophies and continental philosophers such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida, this collection is the first to fully treat the increased interest in intercultural and interdisciplinary studies related to the work of Emmanuel Levinas in such a context. Levinas and Asian Thought seeks to discover common ground between Levinas’s ethical project and various religious and philosophical traditions of Asia such as Mahāyāna Buddhism, Theravādic Buddhism, Vedism, Confucianism, Daoism, and Islam. In these 13 essays, contributors draw on resources as diverse as the self-sacrificial ethic of bushidō, Islamic jurisprudence, and contemporary research in cognitive science. The essays are organized around three primary themes of enduring ethical, political, and religious importance. The first set of essays considers a dialogue between Levinasian and Asian accounts of the self, others, and the intersubjective relationship. Through a conversation with a variety of non-Western traditions, the second group of essays addresses the question of Levinas’s extreme portrayal of the self’s responsibility to the other and its potential limits. Finally, the collection ends with essays that utilize Asian thought and culture to consider ways in which Levinas’s ethics of alterity might be put into practice in the sphere of politics, social norms, and institutions. Levinas and Asian Thought is not only a comprehensive attempt to bring Levinas into conversation with the philosophies of Asia, but it also represents a focused effort to recognize, address, and overcome Levinas’s own Eurocentrism. Overall, the thoughtful investigations collected here chart new territory, pushing Levinas’s practice of philosophy outside its familiar European and Jewish contexts, expanding our understanding of key Levinasian terms, thus furthering the thinking necessary for ethics as first philosophy. This volume will be of interest to a wide range of scholars and students, as it builds connections among Levinas studies, Asian philosophy, comparative philosophy, continental philosophy, and ethics.

Li Zhi, Confucianism, and the Virtue of Desire Cover

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Li Zhi, Confucianism, and the Virtue of Desire

A philosophical analysis of the work of one of the most iconoclastic thinkers in Chinese history, Li Zhi, whose ethics prized spontaneous expression of genuine feelings.

Master Sorai's Responsals Cover

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Master Sorai's Responsals

An Annotated Translation of Sorai Sensei Tomonsho

Samuel H. Yamashita & Sorai Ogyu

Master Sorai's Responsals was to eighteenth-century Japan what The Prince was to Renaissance Italy. Like Machiavelli, Ogyu Sorai (1666-1728) was a humanist scholar who served a prince (one of the shogun's chief lieutenants) and drew on his experiences as a house philosopher and on his vast knowledge of history and political affairs in his work. In 1720, when he began to write the letters that comprise this text, the Tokugawa regime was more than a hundred years old and beset with grave administrative and fiscal problems, about which Sorai had much to say.Samuel Yamashita's impressive translation of this work offers modern readers a rare glimpse of the prevailing political discourse of the day and the specific concepts that rulers had at their disposal as they struggled to manage their domains, find talented men for their bureaucracies, create new sources of revenue, and keep their subjects well fed and happy.Sorai himself, of course, is a presence in the text. He is by tunes earnest, frank, impatient, utterly confident, and occasionally condescending. Unlike his Renaissance counterpart, he is something of an optimist: he was convinced that the introduction of archaic Chinese culture and institutions to Japan would solve its myriad problems.Well-versed in Chinese history, philosophy, religion, medicine, and belles lettres, Sorai holds forth on everything from archaic Chinese divination to Sung poetry and prose. He offers advice on how to become a Confucian gentleman, how to learn to read classical Chinese, and which books to read and which to avoid. He even discusses his belief in a sentient, Chinese-style "heaven," a topic not well understood by modern scholars. Long regarded as one of Sorai's best works, Master Sorai's Reponsals bristles with the sharp and clear opinions of the most influential thinker of Tokugawa Japan.

Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought Cover

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Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought

Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought

A wide-ranging exploration of traditional Chinese views of mortality.Mortality in Traditional Chinese Thought is the definitive exploration of a complex and fascinating but little-understood subject. Arguably, death as a concept has not been nearly as central a preoccupation in Chinese culture as it has been in the West. However, even in a society that seems to understand death as a part of life, responses to mortality are revealing and indicate much about what is valued and what is feared. This edited volume fills the lacuna on this subject, presenting an array of philosophical, artistic, historical, and religious perspectives on death during a variety of historical periods. Contributors look at material culture, including findings now available from the Mawangdui tomb excavations; consider death in Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist traditions; and discuss death and the history and philosophy of war.

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Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Daoist Thought

Crossing Paths In-Between

In this book, Katrin Froese juxtaposes the Daoist texts of Laozi and Zhuangzi with the thought of Nietzsche and Heidegger to argue that there is a need for rethinking the idea of a cosmological whole. By moving away from the quest for certainty, Froese suggests a way of philosophizing that does not seek to capture the whole, but rather becomes a means of affirming a connection to it, one that celebrates difference rather than eradicating it. Human beings have a vague awareness of the infinite, but they are nevertheless finite beings. Froese maintains that rather than bemoaning the murkiness of knowledge, the thinkers considered here celebrate the creativity and tendency to wander through that space of not knowing, or “in-between-ness.” However, for Neitzsche and the early Heidegger, this in-between-ness can often produce a sense of meaninglessness that sends individuals on a frenetic quest to mark out space that is uniquely their own. Laozi and Zhuangzi, on the other hand, paint a portrait of the self that provides openings for others rather than deliberately forging an identity that it can claim as its own. In this way, human beings can become joyful wanderers that revel in the movements of the Dao and are comfortable with their own finitude. Froese also suggests that Nietzsche and Heidegger are philosophers at a crossroads, for they both exemplify the modern emphasis on self-creation and at the same time share the Daoist insight into the perils of excessive egoism that can lead to misguided attempts to master the world.

One and Many Cover

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One and Many

A Comparative Study of Plato's Philosophy and Daoism Represented by Ge Hong

Ji Zhang

Is the world one or many? Ji Zhang revisits this ancient philosophical question from the modern perspective of comparative studies. His investigation stages an intellectual exchange between Plato, founder of the Academy, and Ge Hong, who systematized Daoist belief and praxis. Zhang not only captures the tension between rational Platonism and abstruse Daoism, but also creates a bridge between the two.

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Simone Weil and the Specter of Self-Perpetuating Force

E. Jane Doering

Simone Weil’s philosophical and social thought during her short life (1909–1943) was intimately engaged with the nature of power and force, both human and natural, and the problems inherent in the use of force. Weil argued vehemently for pacifism, then moved toward a guarded acceptance of the use of force under very specific circumstances, in the context of the rise of Nazism. Ultimately she came to a nuanced and unique perspective on force and on the preservation of human dignity, in the aftermath of several profound mystical experiences during the last years of her life. E. Jane Doering carefully examines and analyzes the material in Weil’s notebooks and lesser-known essays to illuminate her evolving thought on violence, war, and injustice. In addition, Doering addresses Weil’s engagement with the Bhagavad Gita during her final years, a text that reoriented and enlightened Weil’s activist and intellectual search for moral value in a violent world. Apart from small excerpts, none of the four volumes of Weil's notebooks, only recently published in French, have been translated into English. Simone Weil and the Specter of Self-Perpetuating Force contains Doering's expert translations of numerous notebook entries. The book will interest Weil scholars, those in French studies, and those who explore interdisciplinary topics in philosophy, religious studies, history, and political science.

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Spirit and Self in Medieval China

The Shih-shuo hsin-yu and Its Legacy

Nanxiu Qian

The Shih-shuo hsin-yu, conventionally translated as A New Account of Tales of the World, is one of the most significant works in the entire Chinese literary tradition. It established a genre (the Shih-shuo t'i) and inspired dozens of imitations from the later part of the Tang dynasty (618-907) to the early Republican era of the twentieth century. The Shih-shuo hsin-yu consists of more than a thousand historical anecdotes about elite life in the late Han dynasty and the Wei-Chin period (about A.D. 150-420).

Despite a general recognition of the place of the Shih-shuo hsin-yu in China's literary history (and to a lesser extent that of Japan), the genre itself has never been adequately defined or thoroughly studied. Spirit and Self in Medieval China offers the first thorough study in any language of the origins and evolution of the Shih-shuo t'i based on a comprehensive literary analysis of the Shih-shuo hsin-yu and a systematic documentation and examination of more than thirty imitations. The study also contributes to the growing interest in the Chinese idea of individual identity. By focusing on the Shin-shuo genre, which provides the starting point in China for a systematic literary construction of the self, it demonstrates that, contrary to Western assertions of a timeless Chinese "tradition," an authentic understanding of personhood in China changed continually and often significantly in response to changing historical and cultural circumstances.

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Spirit, Qi, and the Multitude

A Comparative Theology for the Democracy of Creation

Hyo-Dong Lee

We live in an increasingly global, interconnected, and interdependent world, in which various forms of systemic imbalance in power have given birth to a growing demand for genuine pluralism and democracy. As befits a world so interconnected, this book presents a comparative theological and philosophical attempt to construct new underpinnings for the idea of democracy by bringing the Western concept of spirit into dialogue with the East Asian nondualistic and nonhierarchical notion of qi. The book follows the historical adventures of the idea of qi through some of its Confucian and Daoist textual histories in East Asia, mainly Laozi, Zhu Xi, Toegye, Nongmun, and Su-un, and compares them with analogous conceptualizations of the ultimate creative and spiritual power found in the intellectual constellations of Western and/or Christian thought namely, Whitehead's Creativity, Hegel's Geist, Deleuze's chaosmos, and Catherine Keller's Tehom. The book adds to the growing body of pneumatocentric (Spirit-centered), panentheistic Christian theologies that emphasize God's liberating, equalizing, and pluralizing immanence in the cosmos. Furthermore, it injects into the theological and philosophical dialogue between the West and Confucian and Daoist East Asia, which has heretofore been dominated by the American pragmatist and process traditions, a fresh voice shaped by Hegelian, postmodern, and postcolonial thought. This enriches the ways in which the pluralistic and democratic implications of the notion of qi may be articulated. In addition, by offering a valuable introduction to some representative Korean thinkers who are largely unknown to Western scholars, the book advances the study of East Asia and Neo-Confucianism in particular. Last but not least, the book provides a model of Asian contextual theology that draws on the religious and philosophical resources of East Asia to offer a vision of pluralism and democracy. A reader interested in the conversation between the East and West in light of the global reality of political oppression, economic exploitation, and cultural marginalization will find this book informative, engaging, and enlightening

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