The Japanese Philosophy Blog

News and discussion of ancient and modern Japanese philosophy

March Roundup

It’s March, so that means it’s time for a roundup post.



  • Mayeda, Graham. “Time for Ethics: Temporality and the Ethical Ideal in Emmanuel Levinas and Kuki Shūzō.” Comparative and Continental Philosophy 4.1 (2012).

    In this article, I compare and contrast the phenomenological ethics of Emmanuel Levinas with that of twentieth-century Japanese philosopher, Kuki Shūzō. In the resulting counterpoint, I put special emphasis on the conception of time espoused by each author. I argue that both go astray by mistakenly basing their ethics on the complete otherness of the other (diachrony) rather than recognizing that both the other (diachrony) and I (synchrony) are originally inseparable in experience before the conceptual separation of “me” and “you.” The fetishization of otherness, which is associated with the feminine in the ethics of both philosophers, leads them to overlook how the details of our everyday concrete experience can provide a guide for action. This paper also explores the two East Asian ethical ideals that Kuki proposes-the Buddhist ideal and the ideal of bushidō, the code of the samurai warrior. In his ethics, Kuki prefers the ethics of bushidō to that of Buddhism. I explain how Kuki’s misunderstanding of Buddhism leads him to this choice, and I explore what he overlooked in Buddhist ethics.

  • Uehara Mayuko. Review of Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook. Monumenta Nipponica 67.2 (2012).


    The editors, who deeply comprehend the Japanese language and are, needless to say, well versed in Western philosophy and Buddhism—and have particular expertise in modern Japanese philosophy—have devoted themselves over many years to elucidating enduring propensities in Japanese thought and culture. Even for them, and for their highly skilled and knowledgeable collaborators, it must have been extremely difficult to arrive at suitable criteria for deciding which figures and texts were to be included in this anthology and to determine the most effective ways of presenting the assembled content. They were faced with the problem of how to excise “Japanese philosophy” from the whole of Japanese history for inclusion in a single volume, and one tactic they employed in doing so was the exclusion of philosophers born after 1950. The main question they had to address, however, was how to define “Japanese philosophy” itself. The title of this book is thus a direct reflection of its editors' line of inquiry.



  • Cavallaro, Dani. Japanese Aesthetics and Anime: The Influence of Tradition. McFarland, Jan. 2013.

    This study addresses the relationship between Japanese aesthetics, a field steeped in philosophy and traditional knowledge, and anime, a prominent part of contemporary popular culture. There are three premises: (1) the abstract concepts promoted by Japanese aesthetics find concrete expression at the most disparate levels of everyday life; (2) the abstract and the concrete coalesce in the visual domain, attesting to the visual nature of Japanese culture at large; and (3) anime can help us appreciate many aspects of Japan’s aesthetic legacy, in terms of both its theoretical propositions and its visual, even tangible, aspects.

  • Kwak, Jun-Hyeok and Melissa Nobles, eds. Inherited Responsibility and Historical Reconciliation in East Asia. Routledge, Feb. 2013.

    Contemporary East Asian societies are still struggling with complex legacies of colonialism, war and domination. Years of Japanese imperial occupation followed by the Cold War have entrenched competing historical understandings of responsibility for past crimes in Korea, China, Japan and elsewhere in the region. In this context, even the impressive economic and cultural networks that have developed over the past sixty years have failed to secure peaceful coexistence and overcome lingering attitudes of distrust and misunderstanding in the region.

    This book examines the challenges of historical reconciliation in East Asia, and, in doing so, calls for a reimagining of how we understand both historical identity and responsibility. It suggests that by adopting a ‘forward-looking’ approach that eschews obsession with the past, in favour of a reflective and deliberative engagement with history, real progress can be made towards peaceful coexistence in East Asia. With chapters that focus on select experiences from East Asia, while simultaneously situating them within a wider comparative perspective, the contributors to this volume focus on the close relationship between reconciliation and ‘inherited responsibility’ and reveal the contested nature of both concepts. Finally, this volume suggests that historical reconciliation is essential for strengthening mutual trust between the states and people of East Asia, and suggests ways in which such divisive legacies of conflict can be overcome.

    Providing both an overview of the theoretical arguments surrounding reconciliation and inherited responsibility, alongside examples of these concepts from across East Asia, this book will be valuable to students and scholars interested in Asian politics, Asian history and international relations more broadly.

    Via WWW