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  • The Japan Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies:A Report on the 2008 Annual Meeting
  • Terao Kazuyoshi

The 2008 annual meeting of the Japan Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies was held at the Palace Side Hotel in Kyoto on 1–3 September. The main theme of the meeting was the "Possibility of Religious Philosophy." The meeting consisted of four sessions, one research presentation, and a general overview on the final day.

Two sessions were staged on the first day. They dealt with a reconsideration of the religious philosophy of Jan Van Bragt (1928–2007), following the meeting in 2007, which generally covered his academic contributions. First, Keta Masako (Kyoto University) read a paper titled "A Configuration in the Contemporary World: A Response to Jan Van Bragt's Expectation and Disappointment at the Kyoto School of Philosophy." (Unfortunately I was unable to attend this session, so I am not able to summarize the presentation.) Next, Hanaoka Eiko (Nara University of Industry) presented a paper titled "In Search of the New Possibility of Religious Philosophy: Fundamental Experience and a Turning Point for Philosophy." She insisted that we need to keep in mind an overview of the religious philosophies of Nishida Kitaro, Tanabe Hajime, and Nishitani Keiji in order to understand Van Bragt's criticism of the Kyoto school. Nishida's ideas of the "logic of the place of nothingness" and the "unity of mind and body" work together, she suggested; this polarity was "one," in accordance with the idea of the "self-identity of absolute contradictions." But in Hanaoka's opinion, Van Bragt sometimes placed a disproportionate emphasis on one side of the polarity. Hanaoka identified ten polarities in Nishida's absolute nothingness: (1) philosophy of self-awareness and philosophy of existence, (2) substantial philosophy and non-substantial philosophy, (3) experience and rationality, (4) plurality and unity, (5) continuity and discontinuity, (6) temporality and eternity, (7) matter and spirit, (8) process and reality, (9) true self and ego, and (10) philosophy and the philosophy of philosophy. Hanaoka argued that Van Bragt's doubts would have disappeared if he had fully experienced love as that which emanates from the "oneness" of the polarity of absolute nothingness.

On the second day of the meeting, Peter Baekelmans gave a presentation titled "The Faith of The Awakening Faith in Mahayana." While Baekelmans studied Buddhism, [End Page 147] particularly esoteric Buddhism, at Koyasan University, he became acquainted with the Daijōkishinron (The awakening faith in Mahayana) and began to translate it into English. He found that the Hindu term śraddhā meant both "hope for achieving the goal" and "confidence in the method," and that the former corresponded to the "faith of Mahayana" and the latter to the "generation of faith of Mahayana." Baekelmans then attempted to demonstrate that the Awakening of Faith was composed in India. In addition, from the perspective of phenomenology he argued that belief as the essence of the religious phenomenon and practice as the phenomenon itself together form a unified spirituality. The deeper that belief becomes, he said, the less important the difference between belief and practice becomes. Some textual scholars in the audience objected to that line of thought, suggesting that we needed more circumspect analysis in order to accept such a perspective.

At the third session, Kim Seung-Chul (Kinjōgakuin University) read a paper on "Christian Theology Facing Religion and Science." He called the relation of religion and science a "double reflection," referring to theories by sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson and philosopher of science Ian Barbour. Kim interpreted religion and science in Nishitani as a "superposition" of existential order. Kim focused on two meanings of nondiscrimination according to Nishitani: "nondiscrimination in nature," found in science, and "nondiscrimination in love," found in religion. The former was symbolized by matter and the latter by life. The place where these two nondiscriminations coincide, he said, is exactly the "standpoint of emptiness." Kim concluded that we must recognize that this "standpoint of emptiness" was the place where the "problem of Christianity and other religions" and the "problem of Christianity and science" can be dealt with simultaneously as "in an absolutely equal status" for their resolution.

Kobayashi Enshō (Hanazono University), the respondent to Kim's paper...


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