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3rd Annual Meeting of the International Association for Inoue Enryo Research “Inoue Enryo and Modern Japan”

3rd Annual Meeting of the International Association for Inoue Enryo Research


  On September 13, 2014, the 3rd Academic Conference of the International Association for Inoue Enryō Research was held at the Toyo University Hakusan Campus (Building 8, 125 Memorial Hall). Researchers from across Japan and around the world gathered for the presentation of five research projects and one special lecture.

  The showcasing of individual research projects began with a presentation entitled “Herbert Spencer and Inoue Enryo” that was given by Hasegawa Takuya (Otani University). While broadly outlining Spencer’s philosophy, Hasegawa focused on aspects tied to the reconciliation of religion with science (in particular, the theory of evolution). In the course of developing a philosophy based on the theory of evolution, Spencer accepted that, alongside “knowable phenomena,” there was an “unknowable Reality” that he identified as the source of religious mysteries. Likewise, Inoue Enryō established a distinction between the absolute Reality (the ultimate nature of all things) and phenomena. It can be said that this argument of Enryō builds on the argument made by Spencer. However, Enryō aimed to further explicate mysteries that go beyond the spencerian agnosticism. Hasegawa concluded that Enryō’s uniqueness—what sets him apart from Spencer—is concisely summed up by this point.

  Next, a presentation entitled “Mutual Inclusive Structure of the Mystery in the Thoughts of Inoue Enryo and Minakata Kumagusu”, by Koda Retsu (Sagami Women’s University), was given. Koda’s focus was on the fact that Inoue Enryō and Minakata Kumagusu’s ideas corresponded to a philosophy imbued with the joy of knowledge in contrast to Western philosophies that were rooted in the philosophies of wonder. On this basis, he discussed the structural similarities between Inoue Enryō and Minakata Kumagusu. Inoue Enryō’s philosophy is defined by the bi-directionality of exposed appearance—by which phenomena is perceived by various means—and hidden appearancemanifested as direct knowledge. Minakata Kumagusu’s Minakata mandala is also defined by the bi-directionality of a mandala that seeks to grasp Tathagata (Buddha) and a mandala that adopts the standpoint of Tathagata. Knowledge obtains unequaled joy within such a bi-directional nested structure.

  The third research presentation was entitled “The Thought of Yoshitani Kakuju and Inoue Enryo”, by Sato Atsushi (Ircp Visiting Researcher, Senshu University). Yoshitani Kakuju and Inoue Enryō were in a professor-student relationship at Tokyo University. While outlining an analysis of Yoshitani’s texts, the presentation first touches on the impact that Yoshitani had on Inoue Enryō. Just as religions and philosophies seek to set forth the principle of all things (principle of global genesis), Yoshitani analyzed three doctrines—Hinayana Buddhism, the Hosso sect of Buddhism, and the Tendai/Kegon sect of Buddhism - on the basis that such a principle also exists in Buddhism. Inspired thusly, Enryō distributed the philosophies of materialism, spiritualism, and rationalism to these three standpoints of Buddhism to develop a unifying theory of Buddhist philosophy. Having done so, however, Enryō was ironically criticized by Yoshitani. Placing Buddhist values front and center, Yoshitani was critical of efforts at reconciliation with other religions. It is in the context of this conflict between teacher and student that we can discern the originality of Enryō.

  After a break, Torano Ryo (Graduate student at Toyo University) delivered his presentation, entitled “Problems of the ‘Center’ in Inoue Enryo.” Relying only upon the philosophical text of Enoue Enryō, Torano attempted to clarify the nature of the center of his philosophy. According to Torano, Enryō argued that a standpoint that encompasses opposites constitutes an ultimate standpoint but was unable to show the nature of the essential reality of such a standpoint. Enryō’s philosophy is a closed system with an empty core. One can throw just about anything into such an empty core with everything coexisting in a random manner. In a global age in which everything is being flattened, Torano raised the question: is it not important to restore the core?

  The last research presentation to be given was Ralph Mueller’s (Kyoto University) “Metatheoretical classifications in relation to Zen in Inoue Enryo's Prolegomena to Zen philosophy.” Inoue Enryō wrote An Introduction to Zen Buddhist Philosophy and analyzed Zen as a philosophical ideology. Zen endorses the concept of furyūmonji (otherwise known as kyogebetsuden) and appears to reject any narrative packaged as philosophical thoughts. At the same time, however, Zen utilizes various sutras and textbooks of Buddhist treatises as sources of authority and classifies the paths towards enlightenment in a logical manner. Just as Enryō pointed out things in a shrewd manner, Zen includes philosophical aspects by which meta-theoretical classifications are carried out even as it seeks to lead followers on an exploration of the truth. In other words, it entails actions from a high-level perspective through which explorative steps are logically classified based on the truth. By way of this presentation, Mueller clarified the significance of Enryō’s An Introduction to Zen Buddhist Philosophy, which had been somewhat neglected in the past.

  After the conclusion of the research presentations, a special lecture entitled “Looking for a Great Synthesis—Philosophy Around 1900” was delivered by Professor Ulrich Sieg (the University of Marburg). Through this lecture, Sieg clarified that philosophers around 1900 were all uniformly aspiring to formulate a synthesis and explained that the workings of this synthesis gave rise to the state of the history of ideas that resulted in a deprivation of reality through the First World War. The most influential thinker of the second half of the nineteenth century, Herbert Spencer attempted to synthesize knowledge of every stripe atop the theory of evolution. This program of synthesis included a utopian way of thinking by which it was envisioned that individuals would become sufficiently rational to render state control unnecessary.

  Carrying out epistemological critiques in the vein of Kant, neo-Kantian scholars upon whom the attention of the world was directed also attempted to arrive at a synthesis. For example, this can be prominently seen in Natorp’s educational ideas, which were formulated to integrate personal freedoms with stable communities of human beings. Such ideas can also be described as utopian in the way that they merged individuals and communities in a state of accordance.

  Rudolf Eucken was an idealistic philosopher who rejected materialism and offered social critiques with an incisive tongue. He sought to reconcile Kant and Hegel and achieve a philosophically universal synthesis. While he was unable to formulate a theory that fulfilled his own goals, his critiques of modern culture as delivered from an idealistic standpoint garnered widespread support and won him the Nobel Prize for Literature.

  As a philosopher who aimed to reconcile East and West, Inoue Enryō can also be regarded as part of an age that aspired to achieve this synthesis. He was also a thinker who believed in enlightenment, who conceived of a society of harmonious relations between the state and individuals, and who was notable for his utopian ideas.

  These utopian ideas rapidly became unrealistic due to the severe blow they sustained in World War I. Enlightenment and advancements in scientific technologies brought about not utopia but a war that caused enormous suffering. In addition, it became clear that progress marked by harmonious relations between the state and individuals amounted no more than a pipe dream.

  A dynamic question-and-answer session followed on the heels of the above presentations. By highlighting thinkers from around 1900—philosophers who tend to be overlooked in the history of modern philosophy, this event successfully managed to clarify the state of the heretofore ignored history of ideas that is associated with Inoue Enryō.