In che cosa crede chi pratica la meditazione buddhista? Dare una risposta univoca e coerente è assai difficile; il Buddhismo infatti si concretizza in una molteplicità di scuole e dottrine caratterizzate da complesse logiche e metafisiche. Ci sono tuttavia delle indicazioni minimali che fungono da denominator comune per chi si accosta alla meditazione. Esse riguardano soprattutto l’assenza di punti di vista determinati, l’esperienza del tempo e la relazione di dipendenza reciproca di ogni cosa con ogni altra. Utilizzando gli strumenti della (...) filosofia analitica, questo libro propone una interpretazione dei princìpi basilari che guidano la meditazione buddhista, facendo leva sulle potenzialità del senso comune, inteso non semplicemente come l’opinione generica della maggioranza – troppo spesso già infarcita di presupposti metafisici discutibili - bensì come insieme di credenze che tutti noi possediamo, ma di cui non sempre siamo consapevoli. (shrink)
This dissertation offers and defends a phenomenological account of personal identity. It does so critically in conversation with Anglo-analytical traditions and varieties of other philosophical traditions from around the world, especially Zen Buddhism. Chapter One brings together three areas of philosophy: the multiple realizability thesis from philosophy of science, the logical pluralist position from philosophical logic, and the various conceptions of personhood from metaphysics. I argue that even though the divide in the literature on the metaphysics of personal identity is (...) unresolved, there is a core notion, “person,” that is understood to be the target of explanation in each of the traditions. The multiple-realizability of personhood entails the multiple realizability of identity. Because "person" is an unsettled term, "personal identity" is also unsettled. Chapter Two examines those metaphysics traditions in more detail. After outlining the claims of body continuity theorists, psychological continuity theorists, and narrative continuity theorists, I raise objections to each of the theories. In Chapter Three, I propose that all three categories of metaphysics approaches to identity face a unified objection: they presume a level of objectivity that belies the negotiation of our identities. This chapter examines the limits of methodological naturalism and examines the work of two Indigenous scholars from North and South America who present theories of identity that embrace contradictory beliefs and goals. Chapter Four proposes that phenomenology offers a new and more promising approach to studying personal identity. In this chapter, I point out that there is a disciplinary divide over whether identity is a thing (something of substance) or a way of understanding. By shifting the approach to identity from metaphysics to epistemology, I demonstrate that phenomenology avoids the objections that the metaphysics theories face. In this chapter, I also raise objections that arise in Buddhist traditions. The chapter concludes with close readings of Keiji Nishitani's critique of Western philosophy from Religion and Nothingness and Jean-Paul Sartre's defense of phenomenology, which appears in Being and Nothingness. Chapter Five defends the phenomenological analysis of identity against Nishitani’s critique. I show that the phenomenological approach to identity entails that identities are distributed within contexts. I adopt a deflationary account of identity grounded in the term existence—all that can be said about one's identity is that it is whatever makes them stand out against a background. No amount of precision that is added to the various accounts will settle whether the metaphysics or epistemic approach to identity is better. Therefore, the deflationary understanding of identity allows us to continue talking about the core notion even if the term remains unsettled. In the end, I offer an account of personal identity that suggests that identity is a distributed phenomenon. If one’s identity is intelligible only in the context of the world, then my circumstances are part of my identity. (shrink)
The theism-atheism debate is foreign to many Mahāyāna Buddhist thinkers such as the Japanese Zen Master Dōgen. Nevertheless, his philosophy of ‘expression’ is able to shine a new light on the various incarnations of this debate throughout history. This paper will explore a/theism from Dōgen’s philosophical standpoint. Dōgen introduces the notion of ‘expression’ to describe the concomitant vertical and horizontal relationships of the religious project, namely the relationship between the individual and the divine as well as the relationship among a (...) multiplicity of individuals, each of which Dōgen conceives of as an expression of the divine and/or the oneness of the cosmos. Dōgen’s philosophy presupposes the ‘way of emptiness’ and Chengguan’s ‘four dharma worlds’. To Dōgen, the former indicates the conventional nature of predication and signification, while the latter denotes the existential interwovenness of numerous individuals and the divine oneness of the cosmos. Such a philosophy implies that all truth claims and philosophical positions are mere intellectual and discursive constructions that are formulated against a perceived other. Therefore, Dōgen observes laconically that ‘when one side is expressed, the other is obscured’ or, as Dōgen says elsewhere, ‘when expression is expressed, non-expression is not expressed.’ Dōgen’s philosophical framework provides some interesting insights about one or more discourses on atheism: Again, the basic assumption is that all philosophical paradigms, systems, and positions are devoid of an absolute truth value, framed in a specific cultural and historical context which they express, and formulated vis-à-vis a perceived other. In this paper, I will look at Friedrich Nietzsche’s atheism from the perspective of Dōgen’s philosophical standpoint. Concretely, I will present Nietzsche’s position on his own terms, translate his philosophy into Dōgen’s terminology, interpret his philosophy from the standpoint of Dōgen’s philosophical approach, and assess the utility of such an exercise. I believe that such a project enables us to read theism through the eyes of atheism, atheism through the eyes of theism, both through the eyes of Dōgen, and Dōgen through the eyes of the a/theism debate. In this last section, I will introduce the language of Nishida Kitarō who attempted a similar project in his The Logic of Basho and the Religious Worldview. The goal of this project is to determine what atheism denies, what atheism contributes, and why a multi-faceted and multi-cultural engagement of atheism is important today. (shrink)
"Featuring a carefully selected collection of source documents, this tome includes traditional teaching tools from the Zen Buddhist traditions of China, Korea, and Japan, including texts created by women. The selections provide both a good feel for the varieties of Zen and an experience of its common core.... The texts are experiential teachings and include storytelling, poetry, autobiographies, catechisms, calligraphy, paintings, and koans. Contextual commentary prefaces each text. Wade-Giles transliteration is used, although Pinyin, Korean, Japanese, and Sanskrit terms are linked (...) in appendixes. An insightful introduction by Arai contributes a religious studies perspective. The bibliography references full translations of the selections. A thought-provoking discussion about the problems of translation is included.... Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels." --_Choice_. (shrink)
This paper discusses Reiner Schürmann’s notions of ontological anarché and anarchic praxis in his readings of Heidegger and Eckhart, while bringing his philosophy of anarchy into dialogue with Zen-inspired Japanese thought. I thereby hope to shed light on his thought of anarchy in terms of what I call “an-ontology.” The inspiration for this project is the fact that Schürmann himself had practiced Zen as a young adult in France and had engaged in comparative analyses of Zen and Eckhart in his (...) earlier works. I take what Schürmann meant by the principle of anarchy as a form of praxis that precedes the theoretical bifurcation between being and non-being. A similar sort of “anarchic praxis” is recognizable in Zen and we can find comparable (an)ontological implications of such praxis in the Zen-inspired writings of the Japanese medieval thinker Dōgen and of the contemporary philosopher Nishida Kitarō. (shrink)
In this paper, I use a comparative analysis of mysticism in Zen and the Abrahamic faiths to formulate a phenomenological account of mysticism “as such.” I argue that, while Zen Buddhism is distinct from other forms of mystical experience in important ways, it can still be fit into a general phenomenological category of mystical experience. First, I explicate the phenomenological accounts of mysticism provided by Anthony Steinbock and Angela Bello. Second, I offer an account of Zen mysticism which both coheres (...) with and problematizes these accounts, arguing that Zen demonstrates the inadequacy of these accounts as descriptions of mysticism as a universal religious category. Lastly, I use this investigation to propose that Zen mysticism does generally cohere with the mystical experiences of other religions, but only if we devise a new formula for speaking phenomenologically about mystical experience as such which captures this phenomenon in all of its manifestations. (shrink)
This article presents a new approach to Japanese Zen Buddhism, alternative to its traditional views, which lack exact definitions of the relation between the meditator and the Buddha’s ultimate cause, dharma. To this end, I offer a comparative analysis between Zen Buddhist and Christian views of causality from the medieval to early modern periods. Through this, human causation with dharma in the Zen Buddhist meditations can be better defined and understood. Despite differences between religious traditions in deliberating human causal accounts, (...) there are parallel ways of thinking and practicing between Christian and Buddhist meditators. Firstly, I reconstruct three sorts of Christian scholastic theories of creaturely causality: conservationism, occasionalism, and concurrentism. Secondly, Zen Buddhist doctrines are introduced by placing particular emphasis on dharma as causal agency. Focusing on the Japanese Zen practice of meditation, finally I expound two theories of human causality: Sōtō Zen quasi-occasionalism following Master Dōgen’s teaching of enlightenment, and Rinzai Zen quasi-concurrentism given the meditator’s interactive kōan practice. Hence, my comparative analysis explains why religious beings are causally active, passive, or interactive in relation to the first agency, God or dharma, whereby systematically establishing alternative definitions of human causality in Zen Buddhism. (shrink)
Since Nāgārjuna's proclamation of the emptiness of all things,1 Mahāyāna Buddhism has been faced with the question of how to reconcile emptiness with its commitment to compassion and altruism. While the latter would seem to require the existence of moral facts, the former would seem to destroy any basis for moral facts. In the vocabulary of contemporary metaethics, it would seem that any Buddhist who accepts Nāgārjuna's formulation of emptiness is committed to moral anti-realism,2 but it remains controversial whether anti-realism (...) is a position suited to Buddhism and its ethical focus.3In this essay, I will show that Dōgen 道元, founder of the Sōtō school of Japanese Zen Buddhism, responds to this problem... (shrink)
Richard Watson maintains that deep ecology suffers from an internal contradiction and should therefore be rejected. Watson contends that deep ecology claims to be non-anthropocentric while at the same time is committed to setting humans apart from nature, which is inherently anthropocentric. I argue that Watson’s objection arises out of a fundamental misunderstanding of how deep ecologist’s conceive of the ‘Self.’ Drawing on resources from Buddhism, I offer an understanding of the ‘Self’ that is fully consistent with deep ecology, and (...) does not lead to the anthropocentric contradiction that Watson identifies. The paper will proceed as follows: First, I articulate Watson’s objection, and briefly discuss the traditional deep ecology position. Next, I turn to a discussion of the ‘Self’ and show that there are conceptions of human nature that are not separate from ‘Nature.’ It will thus be shown that deep ecology is not inconsistent and need not be rejected. (shrink)
ABSTRACTFor Dōgen, the Buddhist doctrine of “no self” ultimately presents the self as contextualized. The self is for him not an independent entity, but is intricately related to its environment, determined through the many beings around it. In a quite different philosophical setting, Spinoza developed similar ideas. While Dōgen challenged the specifics of a tradition that explicitly argues against the idea of an absolute self, Spinoza faced a more radical challenge: questioning an absolute, unchanging, and free self that the Western (...) tradition has mostly taken for granted. After an analysis of the ideas of the two thinkers, the essay presents some important implications for contemporary times. Our domination of the earth and one another is arguably rooted in the individualism Dōgen and Spinoza seek to overcome. The insight that we are contextualized is a first step toward re-determining ourselves as placed within a larger whole. (shrink)
This introductory chapter on concepts of Japanese philosophy and the concomitant approaches to this subject contains 1) a brief critical overview of the term's history and its impact on the definition of the field and 2) a short presentation of the ensuing chapters, which create a sustained dialogue on how to understand Japanese philosophy and how to delineate its his history.
This contribution argues that it is misleading to consider Dōgen (1200-1253) a philosopher, in spite of a strong reception of his thought in Japanese and Comparative philosophy since the early 20th century. Dōgen himself gives a decidedly parochial description of his own agenda, and that he considered non-Buddhist views and teachings unworthy of any consideration whatsoever. There are substantial differences between Dōgen's concept of the Buddha Way and philosophy as an open-ended and reasoned discourse on matters of fundamental human concern. (...) Philosophical reception of Dōgen needs to take these differences into account to fully appreciate the challenges posited by his thought. (shrink)
In recent decades, the concept of religion, and specifically its application to non-Western historic cultural formations has come unter critical scrutiny. This paper applies the analysis of semantic fields to three works by the medieval Japanese Buddhist monk Dōgen (1200–1253), who came to be revered as founder of the still extant Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism. By putting his notion of the ‘Buddha Way’ (butsudō) into strong relief, it provides a basis for comparison with modern concepts of religion. The conclusion (...) is that Dōgen’s ideas conform to a surprisingly large extent with modern ideas. This may be one reason for his popularity in modern times. But Dōgen should not be taken to represent the general world-view of medieval Japan. Further comparative analyses of other corpora remain necessary to gauge the applicability of‘religion’ as a category for the analysis of medieval Japanese culture. (shrink)
The image of the “mirror” (鏡kagami) appears frequently in the philosophical texts of Nishida Kitaro (西田幾多郎1870-1945), where it assumes various functions. Mirror references first occur in meditations on the philosophies of Josiah Royce (1855-1916) and Henri Bergson (1859-1941). The most fascinating evocation here corresponds to the idea of a “self-enlightening mirror”, used to probe the philosophical ground for self-illumination. This idea seems to point back to Buddhist meaning that intervenes in Japanese intellectual history. We take this as our warrant for (...) establishing here, firstly, how Nishidean philosophical speculation can be critically related to the thought of Dogen (道元1200-1253); and, secondly, in what sense it has stimulated some contemporary approaches in Japanese philosophy (for example, those of Nitta, Ohashi, and Sakabe). (shrink)
The growing scholarship on the Kyoto School of Japanese Buddhist philosophy has brought it to the attention of more and more people in the West, but in the process, the Kyoto School has acquired a fixed identity. It is usually depicted as centered around three main figuresâNishida KitarÅ, Tanabe Hajime and Nishitani Keijiâand concerned with the philosophy of nothingness. In fact, however, as the thirteen scholars in this volume show, the Kyoto School included several other members beside the inner circle (...) of three, and these members were concerned with a wide range of philosophical issues beyond the philosophy of nothingness. The range and variety of these essays give a much more realistic picture of the many fronts on which the Japanese encountered Western philosophy. (shrink)
Tsunoda Tairyū of Komazawa University is one of the foremost authorities on shūgaku 宗学, or “Sōtō theology,” in Japanese academia, and a leading philologist of Dōgen’s writings, in particular the Shōbōgenzō 正法眼蔵. Tsunoda’s ongoing investigation of Dōgen’s philosophy culminated in the year 2015 when his extensive study Dōgen Zenji no shisō-teki kenkyū 道元禅師の思想的研究 was published by Shunjūsha. Tsunoda opens by introducing the fundamental methodologies that constitute Sōtō theological scholarship. The first is sankyū 参究, or scholarship based on one’s faith in (...) the tradition. With sankyū, Tsunoda argues, the standpoint of faith... (shrink)
Nāgārjuna and Dōgen point to many of the same Buddhist insights because they deconstruct the same type of dualities, mostly versions of our commonsense but delusive distinction between substance and attribute, subject and predicate. This is demonstrated by examining chapter 2 of the "Mūlamadhyamakakārikā" and Dōgen's transgression of traditional Buddhist teachings in his "Shōbōgenzō." Nonetheless, they reach quite different conclusions about the possibility of language expressing a "true" understanding of the world.
This essay is an analysis of Dōgen's commentary on "Nan-ch'üan's Cutting of the Cat" as found in section 1.6 of the Shōbōgenzō Zuimonki. It argues that Dōgen's conception of hishiryō is the starting point for understanding Dōgen's moral vision, and employs this idea in the interpretation of the passage.
A core project for deep ecologists is the reformulation of the concept of self. In searching for a more inclusive understanding of self, deep ecologists often look to Buddhist philosophy, and to the Japanese Buddhist philosopher Dōgen in particular, for inspiration. I argue that, while Dōgen does share a nondualist, nonanthropocentric framework with deep ecology, his phenomenology of the self is fundamentally at odds with the expanded Self found in the deep ecology literature. I suggest, though I do not fully (...) argue for it, that Dōgen’s account of the self is more sympathetic to one version of ecofeminism than to deep ecology. (shrink)
Thinkers like Slavoj Žižek and Tim Morton have heralded the end of our ideological constructions of nature, warning that popular “ecology” or the “natural” is just the latest opiate of the masses. Attempting to think what I call Nature after Nature, I turn to the Kamakura period Zen master Dōgen Eihei (1200–1253) to explore the possibilities of thinking Nature in its non-ideological self-presentation or what Dōgen called “mountains and rivers (sansui).” I bring Dōgen into dialogue with his great champion, the (...) American poet Gary Snyder (who understands the process of sansui as “the wild”), as well as with thinkers as diverse as Schelling, Kundera, Žižek, Agamben, and Muir. Beyond Nature being any one thing, what Badiou derides as the “cosmological one,” I argue for the reawakening and sobering up to multiple Nature, beyond its appearance as an object to a discerning subject, as the bioregions which give us our interdependent and dynamic being. (shrink)
Although the planet is currently facing an unprecedented array of environmental crises, those who are in a position to do something about them seem to be paralyzed and the general public apathetic. This pathological situation derives in part from a particular conception of the human relationship to nature which is central to anthropocentric traditions of thought in the West, and which understands the human being as separate from, and superior to, all other beings in the natural world. Traditional East Asian (...) understandings of this relationship are quite different and remarkably un-anthropocentric, especially as exemplified in the ideas of Chinese Daoism and Japanese Buddhism—even though Western conceptions now predominate in both China and Japan. Nevertheless, these ideas and understandings are experientially accessible to any contemporary person who has full contact with the natural world, regardless of which tradition that person stands in.This essay examines the understanding of the human-nature relation that we find in the philosophies of Kūkai and Dōgen, from whom we can learn much that is beneficial in the context of our current environmental predicament. The ideas of both thinkers are firmly rooted in practice, and especially bodily or somatic practice, designed to bring about a transformation of experience. The argument is not that we should appropriate their conceptions of nature in order to solve our environmental problems; rather, since they both practice “philosophy as a way of life,” the suggestion is that we can learn from the practices they advocate in the light of what they say about natural phenomena and would benefit from emulating their ways of engaging the world ecologically. (shrink)