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1st Unit : 2nd Study Group Session

"On the Philosophy of Miyake Setsurei""

渡部清先生   On Wednesday July 10, 2013, Prof. Emer. Watabe Kiyoshi of Sophia University, gave a lecture at 1st Unit Study Group Session held at Hakusan Campus, Toyo University. Prof. Watabe proposed two central themes.

   The first theme was that Hara Tanzan’s lectures (1879-88) on Mahayana-Buddhism held at the University of Tokyo, of which the most important text “Daijo Kishinron”(『大乗起信論』)was, played the decisive role in the beginning of Japanese philosophy. Hara declared Buddhism is filled with many original philosophical problems, which are different from Western thoughts.

   Among Hara Tanzan’ students, Inoue Tetsujiro prososed “Gensh. soku jitsuzai-ron” (“Phaenomena and Reality is the same.”) based on the philosophy of the Daijo Kishinron. Inoue Enryo tried to purify the traditional Japanese Buddhism by Western philosophical thinking.

   In this respect we should understand that a Zen-Buddhist Nishida Kitaro proposed to rewrite the central doctrines of Mahayana-Buddhism in the framework of Western philosophy. So, we have to hear once again what the scholar, who knows thoughts of the world, has said: “When Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945), who is generally considered to have been the leading Japanese philosopher since the opening to the West, was engaged in rethinking the Buddhist philosophy of ‘Emptiness’ or ‘the Void’, he turned to western philosophy, from Plato up to modern phenomenology, for ideas relating to method.”(Frederick C. Copleston, Philosophies and Cultures, Oxford Univ. Press 1980, p.169.)

   The second theme was that Miyake Setsurei tried to propose the huge cosmology as a synthesis Neo-Confusianism, especially the doctrines of Wang Yan-ming (王陽明), with Western philosophy and sciences. In his Tetsugaku Kenteki (“Philosophical Essays”), Miyake Setsurei divides philosophy into three categories: Chinese philosophy as jo (sentiment), Indian philosophy (Buddhism) as i (will), and Western philosophy as chi (reason). According to him, the study of “reason” reached its apogee with Hegel, after which Schopenhauer added the Indian factor “will” to the Western “reason”. Miyake concluded that philosophy of the future would be the trinity of the Chinese, Indian and Western thoughts. And he tried to develop his own philosophy in his books Gakan Shokei (“My own philosophical problems”) and Uchu (“Cosmos”), in which Wang Yan-ming’ s Neo-Confucian cosmology, i.e. the unification theory of Human race with Cosmos, played an important role beside Western philosophy and sciences.

聴衆   After Prof. Watabe has surveyed the history of philosophy of Meiji-era, he had to say that the study of Japanese philosophy today ignores the important role played by Hara Tanzan, Inoue Tetsujiro and Inoue Enryo. The overlooking of the efforts undertaken by earlier scholars has led to a misunderstanding that Nishida Kitaro’ s philosophy would be “original and unique”. The appraisal of Nishida’s philosophy lacked the historical more scientifical studies of the history of Japanese Philosophy.

   At the end of Prof. Watabe’s presentation, he took questions from the participants. This session raised important ideas as to how Meiji era (1868-1912) philosophy should best be approached and studied.