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Contingency and the "Time of the Dream": Kuzi Shuzo and French Prewar Philosophy

From: Philosophy East and West
Volume 50, Number 4, October 2000
pp. 481-506 | 10.1353/pew.2000.0003

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2000 by University of Hawai‘i Press In general, Kuki’s ‘‘French side’’ has aroused relatively little interest. This is odd because one of the few works by Kuki that have been translated into European languages is his doctoral thesis on the subject of contingency, the Gu ¯ zensei no mondai, which Kuki finished in 1932. This thesis was published in Japanese in 1935 and in French translation as Le Proble ` me de la contingence in 1953. 3 As the title suggests, Gu ¯ zensei no mondai is directly influenced by two eminent books by French contemporaries with whom Kuki had become particularly well acquainted: Emile Boutroux’s De la contingence des lois de la nature (1908) 4 and Emile Borel’s Le Hasard (1920). 5 First, it seems that the French treatment of the phenomenon of contingency as well as of the questions of liberty and time had been absorbed by Kuki and elaborated in the context of Asian thought. In Gu ¯ zensei no mondai Kuki turns out to be a great specialist of French thought who is able to assimilate certain motives of French ‘‘spiritualism’’ with concepts of contingency as they appear in the Buddhist tradition. Kuki advances a rationalist philosophy for which contingency appears as a ‘‘reality of the real as real’’ ( ) or as ‘‘simple reality’’ ( ) (p. 213). One of Kuki’s main points is that this reality can be grasped only by means of philosophy and not by means of science: only...

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