Nothingness in the Heart of Empire: The Moral and Political Philosophy of the Kyoto School in Imperial Japan

Nothingness in the Heart of Empire: The Moral and Political Philosophy of the Kyoto School in Imperial Japan

by Harumi Osaki


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In the field of philosophy, the common view of philosophy as an essentially Western discipline persists even today, while non-Western philosophy tends to be undervalued and not investigated seriously. In the field of Japanese studies, in turn, research on Japanese philosophy tends to be reduced to a matter of projecting existing stereotypes of alleged Japanese cultural uniqueness through the reading of texts. In Nothingness in the Heart of Empire, Harumi Osaki resists both these tendencies. She closely interprets the wartime discourses of the Kyoto School, a group of modern Japanese philosophers who drew upon East Asian traditions as well as Western philosophy. Her book lucidly delves into the non-Western forms of rationality articulated in such discourses, and reveals the problems inherent in them as the result of these philosophers' engagements in Japan's wartime situation, without cloaking these problems under the pretense of "Japanese cultural uniqueness." In addition, in a manner reminiscent of the controversy surrounding Martin Heidegger's involvement with Nazi Germany, the book elucidates the political implications of the morality upheld by the Kyoto School and its underlying metaphysics. As such, this book urges dialogue beyond the divide between Western and non-Western philosophies, and beyond the separation between "lofty" philosophy and "common" politics.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438473109
Publisher: State University of New York Press
Publication date: 01/02/2020
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Harumi Osaki is an independent scholar who received her PhD in contemporary French thought from Hitotsubashi University in 2003 and went on to complete a second doctorate in Japanese philosophy from McGill University in 2016.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Abbreviations ix

Preface xi

Introduction 1

Part 1 "Overcoming Modernity" and "The Philosophy of World History"

Chapter 1 Nishitani Keiji and the Bungakukai Symposium "Overcoming Modernity" 23

Chapter 2 The Chuokoron Symposia Concerning the Philosophy of World History 41

Chapter 3 The Unity between the Subject and the Substratum of the State: The First Characteristic of Japanese National Subjectivity 51

Chapter 4 The Interpenetration between the National and the International: The Second Characteristic of Japanese National Subjectivity 67

Chapter 5 The Reciprocal Determination between the Virtual and the Actual: The Third Characteristic of Japanese National Subjectivity 85

Chapter 6 The Outcomes of the Two Projects at Stake in Japanese National Subjectivity 101

Part 2 A Political Dimension of Nishida Kitaro's Philosophy of Nothingness

Chapter 7 Questions Concerning Nishida and Japanese Subjectivity 117

Chapter 8 Nishida's Political Thoughts Concerning Japanese National Subjectivity 127

Chapter 9 The Significance and Problems of Nishida's Arguments about Kokutai 163

Chapter 10 Nishida's Criticism of Hegel with an Eye to Overcoming Western Modernity 179

Chapter 11 Examining Nishida's Philosophical Project of Overcoming Western Modernity 217

Chapter 12 Reconsidering the Issues of Kokutai and Overcoming Modernity 243

Conclusion 257

Notes 259

Bibliography 275

Index 283

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