REL 337 Spring 2015 Zen and Philosophy: The Kyoto School and its Legacy in Japanese Thought

Cross Listed as COMP337, ASST337
Popularly regarded as the most important philosophical movement in modern Japanese history, the Kyoto School creatively marshaled the resources of Buddhism to address the impasses of Western philosophy to startling effect. Although the members of the Kyoto School were not all of one mind, their shared aims were ambitious: to bridge the dualism between subject and object, to overcome nihilism, to explore the implications of absolute nothingness, and to surmount what they saw as the chasm between Japanese and European thought. After providing some brief background in Japanese Buddhism, we will read the writings of the core thinkers of the Kyoto School: Nishida Kitaro, Tanabe Hajime, Nishitani Keiji, and some of their later protégés. Thematically, we will explore issues in ethics, epistemology, phenomenology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion; and demonstrate the continued relevance of their insights in these areas. Finally, we will reflect on the group's engagement with Japanese nationalism. All readings will be in translation.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: regular participation and attendance, regular short writing assignments, 10- to 15-page final paper
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Prerequisites: none, but previous coursework in Religion, Comparative Literature, Political theory, and/or Philosophy is strongly recommended
Enrollment Preference: Religion, Asian Studies, and Comparative Literature majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
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Enrollment Limit: 15
Expected Enrollment: 15
Class Number: 3771
REL 337 - 01 (S) SEM Zen and Philosophy Division 2: Social Studies Jason Josephson
W 1:10 PM-3:50 PM Griffin 4 3771
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