Illuminations Of The Quotidian in Nishida, Chan/Zen Buddhism, and Sino‐Japanese Philosophy

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 40 (S1):135-145 (2013)
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Return to the ordinary as extraordinary has become the signature motif for the Emersonian perfectionism of Stanley Cavell in contemporary American philosophy. In this article I develop Cavell's notion of “the ordinary” as an intercultural theme for exploring aspects of traditional Chinese philosophy, especially Confucianism and Chan Buddhism. I further use Cavell's philosophy of the ordinary to examine Sino-Japanese thought as found in the Zen tradition of Japan and its reformulation by Nishida Kitarô in modern Japanese philosophy. It will be seen how for both Cavell and Sino-Japanese philosophy, perfection is achieved not by transcendence of the ordinary, but through continuous return to and affirmation of the ordinary as extraordinary. I thus endeavor to illuminate the quotidian as articulated by Cavell, Chinese philosophy, and the Sino-Japanese tradition



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Steve Odin
University of Hawaii

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