The Japanese Philosophy Blog

News and discussion of ancient and modern Japanese philosophy

Recent Article Roundup

I’ve been collecting browser tabs for recent articles about Japanese philosophy for a few weeks now, so I thought it would be better to dump them all out at once then to wait even longer in the hopes of someday giving each article the attention it deserves. Here goes:


Poeticize the Good–Eccentricity of Enlightened Zen Characters
Yong Zhi, Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 4, Nov. 2012


An enlightened Zen master, after a period of reclusive life in monastery or wildness, often chooses to return to the society and mingle with people. The tenth ox-herding picture attempts to depict this scenario, in which an enlightened one, with an eccentric appearance, seems to be making a deal in a market place. The eccentric trait seems to reflect a Zen’ s style of character and spiritual transmission with people. Eccentricity is a manifestation of enlightenment with a transformed personality and extraordinary capability in interaction with people. We will examine three aspects of the eccentric nature of Zen characters: the non-positional stand, the intriguing laugh, and the appearance of foolishness. The eccentricity of Zen is vividly exemplified by Ji-gong, one of the most colorful Zen characters in the history of both Chinese Buddhism and the popular culture. The paper suggests that the spirituality of Zen allows its ethics to take an aesthetic form.


This is not strictly an article, but please read Wakako Godo’s fascinating blog report on Augustin Berque’s Asian Philosophy Forum Lecture: “Mesology (fûdoron) in the light of Yamanouchi Tokuryû’s Logos and lemma”.


China and Japan’s Quest for Great Power Status: Norm Entrepreneurship in Anti-Piracy Responses
Lindsay Black and Yih-Jye Hwang. International Relations Vol. 26, No. 4, Dec. 2012


In responding to piracy in the Gulf of Aden, both Chinese and Japanese policymakers have acted as norm entrepreneurs who intend to transform the dominant norms of international society. Chinese and Japanese norm entrepreneurship is grounded in the ways in which foreign policy actors construct and reconstruct their state identity. In China’s case, policymakers have projected China’s self-image as a responsible and benevolent Great Power that derives from the Chinese conception of Tianxia. Japanese foreign policy actors, on the other hand, have advanced the notion of Japan as a bridge that mediates between East and West, developing and developed states, members and non-members of international society. Although we do not advocate that Chinese or Japanese norm entrepreneurship should be accepted uncritically, we do maintain that there exist opportunities to combine and develop the multiple approaches that different states promote to problems. This article has shown that dealing with Somali piracy is one such case.

The article itself specifically mentions Nishida’s “place of nothingness” as a source of the Japanese national self-conception.


Heidegger in Nishida Philosophy
Agustín Jacinto Zavala, Natureza humana, Vol. 14, No.1, 2012


Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945) was one of the introducers of phenomenology in Japan. However, for him, there were points of disagreement with the statements of philosophy. In his encounter with the writings of Heidegger, the author also presents points to itself unacceptable or, at least, unsatisfied. In this work, we chose some critical views of the philosophical stance of Heidegger, between 1925 and 1940. The presentation will focus the historicity of the existence, based on texts and how Nishida discusses Heidegger’s position on this issue.


A book review in Anglia, Vol. 130, No. 4:

  • Time in American and East Asian Thinking: A Comparative Study of Temporality in American Transcendentalism, Pragmatism, and (Zen) Buddhist Thought. By Birgit Capelle. Universitätsverlag Winter, 2011. Reviewed by Ulfried Reichardt.


Finally, there are several relevant book reviews in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 71, No. 4, Nov. 2012:

  • Japanese and Continental Philosophy: Conversations with the Kyoto School. Edited by Bret W. Davis , Brian Schroeder , and Jason M. Wirth. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011. Reviewed by Michiko Yusa.

  • Truth from a Lie: Documentary, Detection, and Reflexivity in Abe Kōbō’s Realist Project. By Margaret S. Key. New Studies of Modern Japan Series, Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2011. Reviewed by Yayoi Uno Everett.

  • Modern Japanese Art and the Meiji State: The Politics of Beauty. By Dōshin Satō. Translated by Hiroshi Nara. Introduction by Chelsea Foxwell. Los Angeles, Calif.: The Getty Research Institute, 2011. Reviewed by Maki Fukuoka.

  • Purifying Zen: Watsuji Tetsurō’s Shamon Dōgen. By Tetsurō Watsuji. Translated by Steve Bein. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2011. Reviewed by Eric Cunningham.