Concepts of Philosophy in Asia and the Islamic World

Vol. 1: China and Japan


The contributions to Concepts of Philosophy in Asia and the Islamic World reflect upon the problems implied in the received notions of philosophy in the respective scholarly literatures. They ask whether, and for what reasons, a text should be categorized as a philosophical text (or excluded from the canon of philosophy), and what this means for the concept of philosophy. The focus on texts and textual corpora is central because it makes authors expose their claims and arguments in direct relation to specific sources, and discourages generalized reflections on the characteristics of, for example, Japanese culture or the Indian mind. The volume demonstrates that close and historically informed readings are the sine qua non in discussing what philosophy is in Asia and the Islamic world, just as much as with regard to Western literature

Contributors are Yoko Arisaka, Wolfgang Behr, Thomas Fröhlich, Lisa Indraccolo, Paulus Kaufmann, Iso Kern, Ralf Müller, Gregor Paul, Lisa Raphals, Fabian Schäfer, Ori Sela, Rafael Suter, Christian Uhl, Viatcheslav Vetrov, Yvonne Schulz Zinda, and Nicholas Zufferey.

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Raji C. Steineck, Ph.D. (1999), Bonn University, is Professor of Japanology at the University of Zurich. He has published extensively on Japanese intellectual history and philosophy and pursues a long-term project on the Critique of Symbolic Forms (Frommann-Holzboog 2014, 2017).

Ralph Weber, Ph.D. (2007), University of St. Gallen, is Assistant Professor for European Global Studies at the University of Basel. His publications focus on Chinese and comparative philosophy as well as methodological and conceptual aspects of translinguistic and transcultural research.

Elena Louisa Lange, Ph.D. (2011), University of Zurich, is Senior Researcher and Lecturer in Japanology at the University of Zurich. Her current research is on the reception of Marx's Critique of Political Economy. Her publishing focuses mostly on value theory.

Robert H. Gassmann is Professor emeritus of Sinology at Zurich University (Switzerland). He presided the Swiss Asia Society and was chief-editor of the quarterly Asiatische Studien/Etudes Asiatiques. His fields of interest were language, history, and thought of Early China.

Part 1: China

Introduction: ‘What is Chinese Philosophy?’
Ralph Weber and Robert H. Gassmann
A Preliminary Overview of the Genealogy of zhexue in China, 1888-1930
Ori Sela
On the Early Marxist Concept of Philosophy in the PRC (1930s–1950s)
Yvonne Schulz Zinda
Reviewing the Crisis of the Study of Chinese Philosophy – Starting from the ‘Legitimacy of Chinese Philosophy’ Debates
Lee Ming-huei
‘Self-Refutation’ (bèi) in Early Chinese Argumentative Prose: Sidelights on the Linguistic Prehistory of Incipient Philosophy
Wolfgang Behr
Philosophy? (Re)appreciating Squire Mèng and the Mèngzǐ
Robert H. Gassmann
The Zhuangzi on ming: Perspectives and Implications
Lisa Raphals
Philosophy in the Clothes of History: The Case of the Book of the Later Han (Hou Hanshu)
Nicholas Zufferey
The ‘Wirkungsgeschichte’ of Wang Yangming’s ‘Teaching in Four Propositions’ up to Liu Zongzhou and Huang Zongxi
Iso Kern
Moving the Target to Catch an Arrow: Qian Zhongshu’s View of Analogies and Metaphors in Philosophical Reasoning
Viatcheslav Vetrov
‘New Confucianism’ and the Sinicization of Metaphysics and Transcendentalism: Conceptualizations of Philosophy in the Early Works of Xiong Shili and Mou Zongsan
Rafael Suter
‘Philosophy’ Reconsidered: The Theological Accentuation in Tang Junyi’s Modern Confucianism
Thomas Fröhlich
Philosophy? – On Tu Weiming’s ‘The Continuity of Being’ (1984)
Ralph Weber

Part 2: Japan

Introduction: ‘What is Japanese Philosophy’?
Ralph Weber and Robert H. Gassmann
Kūkaiʼs 空海 (774-835) Philosophy of Language Reflections on the Usage of the Word ‘Philosophy’
Gregor Paul
Form and Content in Kūkai’s Shōjijissōgi 
Paulus Kaufmann
Philosophy and the Practice of Reflexivity On Dōgen’s Discourse about Buddha-Nature
Ralf Müller
A Zen Philosopher? – Notes on the Philosophical Reading of Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō
Raji C. Steineck
Ogyū Sorai and the End of Philosophy
Paulus Kaufmann
Towards a Critical Public Sphere: Tosaka Jun on Philosophical Journalism and Journalistic Philosophy
Fabian Schäfer
What is Philosophy?: The Use and Abuse of Universalism in Modern Japanese Philosophy
Yoko Arisaka
What is Philosophy? On Globalizing Capitalism, the Modern Order of Knowledge, and the Spread of Philosophy to Japan
Christian Uhl

All interested in the philosophy and the intellectual histories of China and Japan.
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