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  3. 1st Unit : 5th Study Group Session

1st Unit : 5th Study Group Session

 “Traditional Buddhism in Inoue Enryō: Discourses on the Unity of Educational Systems with Buddhism and Philosophy.”


              IRCP hosted a talk by visiting researcher Mr. Satō Atsushi on November 28, 2012, at Hakusan Campus, Toyo University. The title was “Traditional Buddhism in Inoue Enryō: Discourses on the Unity of Educational Systems with Buddhism and Philosophy.”

              In 1887, Mr. Satō began, Inoue wrote his work, Bukkyō katsuron joron [Prolegomenon to a dynamic Buddhist faith], to invigorate a Buddhist community that was in a malaise owing to the anti-Buddhist campaign (haibutsu kishaku) of the early Meiji Period. One of his focal points in this work was to argue that Buddhism was consistent with Western philosophy and science. Mr. Satō then focused on those points that Inoue saw as being consistent between Buddhism and philosophy (the unity of Buddhism and philosophy, Bukkyō tetsugaku itchi ron). The normal pattern of thinking about such things would be to study Buddhism and Western philosophy, find those points where they are consistent with one another, and then combine the two.

              However, Satō said, Inoue’s basic approach began with the Buddhist system based on the general trans-sectarian understanding of Buddhism that prevailed in Edo Period Japan. This system posited a framework comprising (1) the Kusha sect, (2) the Hossō sect, and (3) the Tendai and Kegon sects. For Satō, this constituted the “traditional Buddhism system.” Aside from joining together in this system of traditional Buddhism these three kinds of doctrine based on the logic of the Tendai sect’s threefold truth (sandai: “all things are temporary, all things are void, all things are in the middle state between the two”), Inoue also offered a new concept to apply them to the principles of human intellectual development. He did this by applying Western philosophy.

              Materialism, Inoue argued, corresponded to the Kusha sect, idealism applied to the Hossō sect, and rationalism applied to the Tendai and Kegon sects. Satō believes that rather than pointing out that these three discourses existed within Western philosophy, Inoue sought instead to find those Western philosophical ideas that were congruent with traditional Buddhist doctrines and apply them to that Buddhist system. For that reason, there were elements that intellectual historically speaking produced inconsistencies.

              In sum, Satō argued, Inoue’s attempt to unify Buddhism and Western philosophy was not about examining the two equally and mulling where they matched with one another. Rather, he made Edo Period Buddhist teachings his foundation and gave them new meaning as he made use of the Western philosophies introduced during the Meiji Period. In the future, Satō concluded, he will be able to view Inoue as someone who was postioned in the space intellectual historically speaking between the Edo and Meiji periods.