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  • A New Book of Japanese Sources
  • Steven Heine
Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook. Edited by James W. Heisig, Thomas P. Kasulis, and John C. Maraldo. Nanzan Library of Asian Religion and Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2011. Pp. xviii + 1,340. Hardcover $70.00, ISBN 978-0-8248-3552-1. Paper $35.00, ISBN 978-0-8248-3618-4.

Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook is a monumental achievement that must have taken many years of thoughtful planning and execution by a fine group of editors: James W. Heisig, Thomas P. Kasulis, and John C. Maraldo. Offering well over a thousand pages of invaluable resources for researchers and teachers at a very reasonable retail price, this volume will undoubtedly serve as an outstanding sourcebook for all those interested in Japanese philosophy, as well as religious thought, social ideology, and artistic expressions stemming from the classical (Heian) and medieval (Kamakura) through the early modern (Tokugawa) and modern (Meiji and post-Meiji) periods. Key portions of some of the major writings by leading figures in Japanese culture have been compiled by a remarkably skilled team of translators; the list of those involved reads like a "who's who" of the field (pp. xvi-xviii). In addition to the three main editors, who also contribute a number of the translations in addition to opening statements for various sections of the book, a few dozen carefully selected scholars participated in this comprehensive project, every one of whom is an expert in one or more fields and subfields of Japanese thought.

The translations included here have obviously been labored over and have been double-checked and cross-checked; they will be of great service in the classroom and consulted by research specialists for many years to come. Following an introductory essay, "Framework," which lays out the aims, rationale, structure, and organization of the book, the materials on the major religious traditions cover about 550 pages, with the next section on Modern Academic Philosophy covering about 450 pages, and the final section on Additional Themes containing about 250 pages, followed by nearly 100 pages of Reference Material. Each section includes an "Overview," or introductory discussion, with a short list of Suggested Further Readings, and every thinker cited is explained and featured with an image of their likeness. The entire set of the translations and reference materials has the potential to be read very carefully by a wide readership, and the book will take its place alongside a very small handful of similar volumes that have such breadth and scope of coverage.

The first main section of materials is presented according to the chronology of various traditions of religious philosophical thought, with about a half dozen or up to [End Page 88] two or three times that number of representatives chosen to represent these schools of thought. This section starts with Buddhist thinkers who reflect more general or unaffiliated trends, ranging from Kūkai in the ninth century to Nakamura Hajime in the twentieth century, and also includes a unit on "Original Enlightenment Debates" extending from Saichō in the early Heian era to the recent Critical Buddhism methodological movement. Next is the section on Zen, beginning with Dōgen and Musō Sōseki of the Sōtō sects, respectively, from the early Kamakura era and extending to Suzuki Daisetz and Hisamatsu Shin'ichi. The section on Pure Land, which includes five thinkers, ranges from Hōnen and Shinran, the respective twelfth-and thirteenth-century founders of the Jōdo and Jōdo Shin sects, to the recent Yasuda Rijin. After this, the section on Confucianism, which includes the greatest number of thinkers—seventeen in all—deals largely with a Tokugawa-era phenomenon that starts at the end of the sixteenth century with Fujiwara Seika and continues until Ninomiya Sontoku in the late nineteenth century. This is followed by Shinto, which is also rooted in the Edo period and begins with Kamo no Mabuchi and Motoori Norinaga in the eighteenth century and concludes with Ueda Kenji in the twentieth century.

The category of modern academics is divided into three subsections. The first is "Beginnings, Definitions, Disputations," which covers a handful of Meiji-era thinkers who helped develop the Japanese...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 88-91
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-20
Open Access
No
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