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1st Unit : 5th Study Group Session

"Inoue Enryō and Japanese Philosophy."


 December11,2013, A Study Group Session of the 1st Unit ofthe Ircpwas held at the Toyo Universityhakusan Campus (Building 9, Meeting Room4), under the topic of "Inoue Enryō and Japanese Philosophy," inviting Sueki Fumihiko(Professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies)as a lecturer.

  Prof. Sueki first characterized the philosophy of Nishi Amane and then extracted characteristic features of the philosophy of Inoue Enryō in comparison. According to Sueki, Nishi did not necessarily make much of philosophy and was critical about traditional Confucianism and Buddhism. The superiority of sciences of modern Europe over Japanese tradition is suggested there. On the other hand, Inoue positively recognized the Japanese intellectual tradition has values which deserve to be called philosophy. He also clearly asserted that philosophy was in a position superior to other disciplines. In contrast to the subsequent trend wherethe academic philosophy had been buried invarious areas of study in the faculty of literature, it was Inoue who consideredphilosophy couldtranscend mere expertise.

  Inoue regarded the Japanese tradition, particularly Buddhism, as something dedicated to elucidating truth just like philosophy. Conceiving philosophy and Buddhism in this way causes the problem of the vague distinction between Buddhism and philosophy, as far as what Inoue wrote indicates. Inoue, however, wrote elsewhere about philosophy and Buddhism that both differ not in area but in orientation. Sueki pointed out that conceiving the difference between philosophy and Buddhism in terms of their different orientations was a conception that might be effective even today.

  Inoue Enryō, along with Inoue Tetsuijiro, emphasized that the Japanese intellectual tradition had significance as philosophy. Sueki raised a question that we might have to go back to them and start over again today when the limit of imported philosophy and fashionable thoughtshas become clear. He also pointed out that Inoue Enryō's theory of Buddhism which conceived Buddhism as living religion instead of fragmented denominations might be quite significant today.

 A period of questions and answers followed after the above talk by Sueki, and heated discussion was made. The session turned out to be quite active with more than 20 participants even though it was held on a weekday.