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With Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook, the English reader can now access in a single volume the richness and diversity of Japanese philosophy as it has developed throughout history. Leading scholars in the field have translated selections from the writings of more than one hundred philosophical thinkers from all eras and schools of thought, many them available in English for the first time.
In recent decades the West has become increasingly interested in Japan’s philosophical heritage as a foundation for its cultural achievements in the arts and sciences. This interest has spanned the contributions of the modern Kyoto School of philosophy in East-West religious dialogue to a new appreciation of the creative thought of such classical figures as Kūkai, Dōgen, Zeami, and Motoori Norinaga. The Sourcebook is a response to this demand for more primary materials in English. The editors have set out to represent the entire scope of Japanese philosophical traditions—not only the broad spectrum of the academic philosophy dating from the introduction of western philosophy in the latter part of the nineteenth century, but also the development of philosophical ideas among major Japanese traditions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shintō from their beginnings through the twentieth century. The bulk of the supporting material, which comprises nearly a quarter of the volume, is given to original interpretative essays on topics not explicitly covered in the other chapters. Those essays on cultural identity, samurai thought, women philosophers, aesthetics, and bioethics also provide readers with supplementary sources.
Handsomely presented and clearly organized for ease of use, the collection aims at a readable, contemporary English style that minimizes the use of jargon and unnecessary technical vocabulary. Writings have been selected for their intrinsic philosophical interest and for their relevance to a wide range of issues related to knowledge, metaphysics, ethics, poetics, politics, religion, society, class, gender, logic, and aesthetics. Each selection includes a brief biographical sketch of the author and helpful information for placing the text in its proper context.
A comprehensive introduction gives a historical overview of Japanese philosophy and a discussion of the Japanese debate over defining the idea of philosophy, both of which help explain the rationale behind the design of the Sourcebook. An exhaustive glossary of technical terminology, a chronology of authors, and a thematic index have been appended as further aids to the reader. Specialists in Japanese studies will find information related to the original sources and sinographs for Japanese names and terms in a comprehensive bibliography and general index.
Japanese Philosophy: A Sourcebook will be a cornerstone in Japanese studies for decades to come. Reasonably priced and accessible in a variety of ways to students and scholars with different interests and backgrounds, the text is an excellent choice for classroom use. The Sourcebook will be an essential reference for anyone interested in either traditional or contemporary Japanese culture and the way it has shaped and been shaped by its great thinkers over the centuries.
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James W. HEISIG is a permanent research fellow at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya, Japan, where he has worked since 1979. He is editor of the 19-volume collection Nanzan Studies in Religion and Culture (1980–1995), and two ongoing collections entitled Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy and (in Italian) Tetsugaku.
Thomas P. KASULIS is Professor of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University where he teaches religious studies, philosophy, and East Asian studies. His books include Zen Action/Zen Person, Intimacy or Integrity, and Shinto: The Way Home. He is currently working on a history of Japanese philosophy.
John C. MARALDO is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of North Florida. His works include Der hermeneutische Zirkel, The Piety of Thinking: Essays by M. Heidegger with Commentary (with James Hart), and Rude Awakenings: Zen, the Kyoto School, and the Question of Nationalism (with J. Heisig)