Philosophy East and West, vol. 62, no. 2 (2012)


The Existential Moment: Rereading Dōgen’s Theory of Time
Rein Raud, 153

This article argues for a new way to interpret Dōgen’s theory of time, reading the notion of uji as momentary existence, and shows that many notorious difficulties usually associated with the theory can be overcome with this approach, which is also more compatible with some fundamental assumptions of Buddhist philosophy (the non-durational existence of dharmas, the arbitrariness of linguistic designations and the concepts they point to, the absence of self-nature in beings, etc.). It is also shown how this reading leads to an innovative treatment of the concept of selfhood, viewing the self as the active openness of an existent to the surrounding world, with which it is able to identify through a mutual relation with other existents within the existential moment. This argument is supported by an alternative translation in the “momentary mode” of those extracts of the fascicle that introduce or elaborate on Dōgen’s key concepts.

On the Structure of Contemporary Japanese Aesthetics
Rea Amit, 174

The jargon of Japanese art criticism has always had an abundance of unique terms, categories, and concepts. This is not only true when discussing traditional Japan, since there are just as many new terms today as there were in the past. Some of the new terms have developed or evolved from old ones, while others have appeared with no seeming connection to any traditional tendency. Yet, only a few of these terms can be considered for the meta-level discussion of Aesthetics, whether or not they can be linked with a certain historical linage, as they have a simple descriptive function. This article will first try to discern between aesthetic and non-aesthetic terms that are at the core of Japanese discourse today. Second, and accordingly, following the footsteps of the renowned modernist aesthetician Kuki Shūzō, this article will also try to convey a single linguistic map of the distinctive cultural Aesthetic that is in motion in Japan today.

Ch’oe Han-gi’s Confucian Philosophy of Experience: New Names for Old Ways of Thinking
Wonsuk Chang, 186

In this article, it is argued that Ch’oe Han-gi (1803–1877), a Korean Confucian scholar from the late Chosŏn, can be credited with finding the full philosophical significance of the notion of experience (kyŏnghŏm). At the same time, his philosophy of experience can be interpreted adequately in the context of not British empiricist but Confucian philosophical assumptions. There is both continuity and discontinuity in Ch’oe’s relation to Confucian tradition. Unlike the Confucian traditionalist, he admitted that inherited knowledge and practice are potentially fallible. Confucian tradition, though still reliable, becomes less important than the process of the world itself, in whose flux all experience must be repeatedly tested. For Ch’oe, humans imbued with configurative energy and with their capability for correlative thinking become skilled in experiencing the world directly without absolute dependence on past Confucian traditions.

On Nishida’s Rationality Thesis
Takushi Odagiri, 197

This article discusses Nishida’s ideas of self-awareness, knowledge, and rationality, construing them as raising epistemological problems called “self-knowledge.” Although the term “self-knowledge” signifies significantly varying problems within different philosophical traditions, the logic and argumentation behind them are often analogous, and it is on this resemblance that this article concentrates. It is argued here that the issues Nishida raises concerning knowledge of oneself as an agent are broader than those discussed in the contemporary Anglophone epistemology, and this broader concept of self-knowledge constitutes one of the central themes in Nishida’s philosophy as a whole. Specifically, two versions are examined of the so-called “rationality” thesis with regard to self-knowledge and first-person authority in analytic philosophy (the basic and modified rationality theses), and these are compared with relevant notions in Nishida’s theories of knowledge and self-awareness. The theories of Tyler Burge (the rationality thesis) and Richard Moran (the modified rationality thesis) are discussed, and the latter’s self-commitment theory is regarded as having some similarity with Nishida’s basic position. There are three levels in Nishida’s account of self-awareness/self-knowledge: epistemic self-awareness, volitional self-awareness, and the so-called “noumenal self.” This last notion, in which Nishida often describes the self as “place,” entails his rationality thesis, namely that reason and first-personhood are deeply involved in one another, both postulating the noetic (non-cognitive) noumenal self-awareness.

The Ancients Did Not Fix Their Graves: Failure in Early Confucian Ritual
Michael David Kaulana Ing, 223

The “Tangong Shang” chapter of the Liji provides a brief account of Confucius performing certain burial rites for his deceased parents. After finishing one portion of the rites, something awful occurs ― heavy rains fall, causing the grave to collapse. Confucius’ demonstration of reverence through the performance of these burial rites is thwarted; but whose fault is it that the grave collapsed? Could Confucius have prevented this failure? In this essay it is argued that contrary to most contemporary interpretations, unpreventable failures in ritual were causes of concern for the authors of early Confucian texts because they believed that meaningful aspects of life were vulnerable to these failures, and because they found themselves occasionally unable to recognize a clear distinction between preventable and unpreventable failures in ritual. This essay provides a persuasive reading of an early Confucian text that preserves rather than resolves the ambiguity between preventable and unpreventable failures in ritual. It argues for an openness to a tragic reading of early Confucian ritual theory. Contemporary interpreters, for the most part, have neglected such a reading; yet in the worldview of the Liji unpreventable failures in ritual were a real, yet uncertain, possibility.

Political Unity in Neo-Confucianism: The Debate between Wang Yangming and Zhan Ruoshui
Youngmin Kim, 246

In the Chinese intellectual tradition, King Wu’s military expedition and Bo Yi’s (and Shu Qi’s) objection to it were well known. King Wu had been admired in that he saved people by dethroning the tyrant King Zhou. At the same time, Bo Yi and Shu Qi also had been praised for their loyalty to that same dynasty. These seemingly contradictory evaluations open a window on how unity can be conceived in Neo-Confucianism, particularly when one is faced with the possibility of colliding values. By examining the debate between Wang Yangming (1472–1529) and Zhan Ruoshui (1466–1560) over such a complex political issue, this article aims to unravel various tensions embedded in Neo-Confucian political philosophy.


Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menaḥem Mendel Schneerson, by Elliot R. Wolfson
Reviewed by H. D. Uriel Smith, 264

Reconstructionist Confucianism: Rethinking Morality after the West, by Ruiping Fan
Reviewed by Ronnie Littlejohn, 266

Sufism and Deconstruction: A Comparative Study of Derrida and Ibn ‛Arabi, by Ian Almond Reviewed by Recep Alpyağil, 270

Reason and Experience in Indian Philosophy, by Bina Gupta
Reviewed by Alan Preti, 273

Mullā Ṣadrā and Metaphysics: Modulation of Being, by Sajjad H. Rizvi
Reviewed by Latimah-Parvin Peerwani, 278

A Story Waiting to Pierce You: Mongolia, Tibet and the Destiny of the Western World, by Peter Kingsley
Reviewed by Kevin Corrigan, 281

Socially Engaged Buddhism, by Sallie B. King
Reviewed by John Schroeder, 286

Schopenhauer and Indian Philosophy: A Dialogue between India and Germany, edited by Arati Barua
Reviewed by Bradley L. Herling, 292

War Memory and Social Politics in Japan, 1945–2005, by Franziska Seraphim
Reviewed by Christopher Ives, 295

Neglected Themes and Hidden Variations, Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy 2, edited by Victor Sōgen Hori and Melissa Anne-Marie Curley
Reviewed by John W. M. Krummel, 297

Overcoming Modernity: Synchronicity and Image-Thinking, by Yasuo Yuasa, translated by Shigenori Nagatomo and John W. M. Krummel
Reviewed by Gereon Kopf, 300

The Moral Fool: A Case for Amorality, by Hans-Georg Moeller
Reviewed by Geir Sigurðsson, 305

The Mozi: A Complete Translation, translated and annotated by Ian Johnston
Reviewed by Hui-chieh Loy, 308

Guodian: The Newly Discovered Seeds of Chinese Religious and Political Philosophy, by Kenneth W. Holloway
Reviewed by Kirill O. Thompson, 311