A Hermeneutics Reader

Japan's FramesIn Japan’s Frames of Meaning: A Hermeneutics Reader, Michael F. Marra identifies interpretative concepts central to discussions of hermeneutical practices in Japan and presents English translations of works on basic hermeneutics by major Japanese thinkers. Discussions of Japanese thought tend to be centered on key Western terms in light of which Japanese texts are examined; alternatively, a few Buddhist concepts are presented as counterparts of these Western terms. Marra concentrates on Japanese philosophers and thinkers who have mediated these two extremes, bringing their knowledge of Western thought to bear on philosophical reinterpretations of Buddhist terms that are, thus, presented in secularized form.

Michael Marra is the author or editor of Representations of Power: The Literary Politics of Medieval Japan, Modern Japanese Aesthetics: A Reader, A History of Modern Japanese Aesthetics, Kuki Shuzo: A Philosopher’s Poetry and Poetics, and The Poetics of Motoori Norinaga: A Hermeneutical Journey.

October 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3460-9 / $55.00 (CLOTH)

Human Agency and the Self in Thought and Politics

Individualism in Early China
Conventional wisdom has it that the concept of individualism was absent in early China. In Individualism in Early China: Human Agency and the Self in Thought and Politics, an uncommon study of the self and human agency in ancient China, Erica Fox Brindley provides an important corrective to this view and persuasively argues that an idea of individualism can be applied to the study of early Chinese thought and politics with intriguing results. She introduces the development of ideological and religious beliefs that link universal, cosmic authority to the individual in ways that may be referred to as individualistic and illustrates how these evolved alongside and potentially helped contribute to larger sociopolitical changes of the time, such as the centralization of political authority and the growth in the social mobility of the educated elite class.

“Contrary to common claims about the absence of individualism in early China and its supposed reification in ‘the West,’ both the Western and Chinese traditions have historically been characterized by diverse and constantly evolving attitudes toward the individual. This book serves as an important corrective to monolithic or essentializing accounts of early Chinese thought, and the narrative concerning the evolution of the concept of the individual in early China is an interesting and novel one. It will appeal widely to people working on early Chinese thought and comparative religion more broadly.” —Edward Slingerland, University of British Columbia

June 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3386-2 / $52.00 (CLOTH)

The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition

The Chinese Aesthetic TraditionLi Zezhou (b. 1930) has been an influential thinker in China since the 1950s. Before moving to the U.S. in the wake of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Li published works on Kant and traditional and contemporary Chinese philosophy. The present volume, a translation of his Huaxia meixue (1989), is considered among Li’s most significant works. Apart from its value as an introduction to the philosophy of one of contemporary China’s foremost intellectuals, The Chinese Aesthetic Tradition fills an important gap in the literature of Chinese aesthetics in English. It presents Li’s synthesis of the entire trajectory of Chinese aesthetic thought, from ancient times to the early modern period, incorporating pre-Confucian and Confucian ideas, Daoism, Chan Buddhism, and the influence of Western philosophy during the late-imperial period. As one of China’s As one of China’s major contemporary philosophers and preeminent authority on Kant, Li is uniquely positioned to observe this trajectory and make it intelligible to today’s readers.

November 2009 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3307-7 / $50.00 (CLOTH)

A Philosophical Translation of the Xiaojing


Few if any philosophical schools have championed family values as persistently as the early Confucians, and a great deal can be learned by attending to what they had to say on the subject. In the Confucian tradition, human morality and the personal realization it inspires are grounded in the cultivation of family feeling. One may even go so far as to say that, for China, family reverence was a necessary condition for developing any of the other human qualities of excellence. On the basis of the present translation of the Xiaojing (Classic of Family Reverence) and supplemental passages found in other early philosophical writings, Henry Rosemont, Jr., and Roger T. Ames articulate a specifically Confucian conception of “role ethics” that, in its emphasis on a relational conception of the person, is markedly different from most early and contemporary dominant Western moral theories. This Confucian role ethics takes as its inspiration the perceived necessity of family feeling as the entry point in the development of moral competence and as a guide to the religious life as well.

November 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3348-0 / $22.00 (PAPER)

Educations and Their Purposes

Education is the point of departure for the cultivation of human culture in all of its different forms. Although there are many contested conceptions of what is meant by a good education, there are few people who would challenge the premise that education is a good thing in which we should heavily invest. In Educations and Their Purposes: A Conversation among Cultures, edited by Roger T. Ames and Peter D. Hershock, representatives of different cultures and with alternative conceptions of human realization explore themes at the intersection of a changing world, the values we would choose to promote and embody, and the ways in which we educate the next generation.

Published in association with the East-West Philosophers Conference
March 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3160-8 / $59.00 (CLOTH)

The Poetics of Motoori Norinaga

One of Japan’s most renowned intellectuals, Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) is perhaps best known for his notion of mono no aware, a detailed description of the workings of emotions as the precondition for the poetic act. As a poet and a theoretician of poetry, Norinaga had a keen eye for etymologies and other archaeological practices aimed at recovering the depth and richness of the Japanese language.

The Poetics of Motoori Norinaga: A Hermeneutical Journey, translated and edited by Michael F. Marra, contains his major works on the Yamato region—the heartland of Japanese culture—including one of his most famous poetic diaries, The Sedge Hat Diary (Sugagasa no Nikki), translated into English here for the first time.

May 2007 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3078-6 / $57.00 (CLOTH)