Sept 7-9, 2023 - University College Cork. Cork, Ireland
Within to the 8th century Chan Buddhist Wild Fox koan (野狐公案) we can discern a subtle but pointed warning against the dangers of theoretical or conceptual understanding being mistaken for realization. Many of the Asian philosophies Japanese thinkers invoke maintain a version of such a cautionary tale regarding theoretical understanding. Yet, among the various ways Japanese philosophies have engaged Western philosophy (East-West, intercultural, hybrid, etc.) one common feature is a confrontation between non-academic Asian philosophies and Western academic structures, idioms, languages, institutions, and above all the adoption of a theoretical model of inquiry. The theme of this conference calls on scholars of Japanese philosophy to engage in self-critique by considering any of one’s various research questions from the point of view of this movement, reflecting on how one’s scholarship in diverse domains stand vis-a-vis the translation of Asian philosophical and soteriological principles and practices into Western academic theoretical structures. Can we as scholars of Japanese philosophy carrying out our research in the full breadth of Western thematic and disciplinary domains conduct that work fruitfully in a theoretical idiom without enacting contradictions and inconsistencies, which threaten to undermine the Asian principles (Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian, Shinto) we implicitly or explicitly call upon in conducting our research? Insofar as our scholarship is an academic pursuit, and our research groups conform to academic norms, the implications potentially touch all domains of scholarship in Japanese Philosophy. We thus encourage participants to approach their inquiries with these and related question in mind: What are the contradictions and agonisms inherent to bringing Asian philosophies into Western academic discourse? What is lost or gained with the confrontation between theoretical and non-theoretical approaches? Can academic research abide both soteriology and theory? Is fidelity to Asian philosophical principles possible where theoretical understanding was in many cases inconceivable without a set of embodied practices? What are the demands or limits of self-critique we can enact as scholars undertaking the synthesis of academic and non-academic traditions? Alternatively, we can also inquire into whether there might in fact be a productive generativity inherent to sustaining the contradictions and agonisms arising from confrontation with Western academic philosophy and its theoretical model. Should the contradictions be sustained and might they pave the way towards a global way of doing philosophy, a philosophy of “in-betweeness” bringing us towards intercultural understanding in a “two-fold world”, or for establishing Nishida’s vision of a “world logic”.
The 7th Conference of the European Network of Japanese Philosophy invites scholars to consider their research from the point of view of the contradictions of doing Japanese Philosophy within Western academic institutions and according to their theoretical expectations. Contributions are welcome that examine these questions and themes from Japanese thought spanning its beginnings to its contemporary movements, including but not limited to pre-modern philosophical traditions, religious thought, political ideas, encounters between different theories of ethics, arts, science, martial arts, and modern philosophical schools and thinkers following or opposing Western ideas..
Professor of philosophy at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)