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Raji C. Steineck

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Conflict is both a creative force in the establishment and a necessary condition for the sustenance of all higher modes of being. This, in short, I find to be one of the most ground-breaking insights of J. T. Fraser’s theory of “Time as a Hierarchy of Creative Conflicts.” As a consequence of this insight, I argue that to understand, with Fraser, the constitutive and creative function of some kinds of conflict will help us to accept, and even embrace, conflict not merely as a perpetual fact, as suggested by Stuart Hampshire, but as a necessary condition that makes possible whatever is of specific value in human culture. I go on to propose to distinguish between accidental and constitutive conflicts, and show how assessing conflicts accordingly can help to better manage them and avoid some destructive paths of action. The paper closes with some reflections on the limitations of the insight and its application.

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Raji C. Steineck

Various attempts have been made to systematize fundamental patterns of temporal organization and to establish links between these patterns and natural and cultural evolution. This paper compares three pertinent theories of time in the light of evidence from Japanese cultural history: the hierarchical theory of time by J. T. Fraser, the fourfold paradigm of time imageries by Y. Maki, and the social learning theory of time by G. Dux. It demonstrates that the “canonical forms of time” established by these authors can be brought into meaningful conversation with each other and that they suggest helpful methodologies for the analysis of temporal perspectives in Japanese history. At the same time, comparative analysis reveals reasons for caution against simplified evolutionary accounts of cultural history. From very early on, Japanese literary sources evince an acute consciousness of conflicting temporalities. At the same time, there is no unified “Japanese concept of time”—neither trans-historically nor at any given period.

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Raji C. Steineck

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Nishida Kitarō (1870–1945) is considered by many as the most important 20th century Japanese philosopher for his ability to employ modern concepts and terminologies, and use them to construct a unique system carrying a distinctly East Asian flavour. In this system, the notion of nothingness plays a fundamental part both in terms of epistemology and ontology. While this conceptual choice was also inspired by Buddhist sources, Nishida also drew on the theoretical philosophy of Hermann Cohen to elaborate, how nothingness could function as both the guarantor of unity and generator of plurality. Close analysis, however, shows that Nishida’s appropriation of Cohen’s concept of the me on as a necessary feature in the „logic of pure knowledge“ sheds the constraints carefully put in place by Cohen. As becomes evident in a comparison between both thinker’s analysis of sensation, Nishida’s unrestricted use of Cohen’s terms collapses precisely those distinctions that give sensation its meaning in the rational assessment of reality. This leaves Nishida’s concept of reality without the critical potential to distinguish between different kinds of normativity and their inter-subjective validity. Nothingness, as Nishida uses the term, is not a logical concept, but functions as an aesthetic symbol invoking sublime ideas of a perfect reality that is one and whole, and at the same time rich and diverse.

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Edited by Raji C. Steineck and Claudia Clausius

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Edited by Raji C. Steineck and Claudia Clausius

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Brigitte Steger and Raji C. Steineck

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Edited by Raji C. Steineck and Claudia Clausius

Origins and Futures: Time Inflected and Reflected provokes an interdisciplinary dialogue about culture, politics, and science’s strategies to divert the relentless trajectory of time. Literature, socio-political policy, physics, among other subjects, demonstrate the human refusal to enlist in temporal determinism. Articles ranging from how detective fiction and international terrorism manipulate the narration of events, to the unlocking of political trauma through forgiveness, to the genetic archaeology of the Human Genome project and the lacunar amnesia of nuclear energy corporations, all argue that wherever human minds meet they wrestle to undo the irrevocable, the irreversible, the fixed. Although such efforts look to the future, they rarely look straight ahead. Whatever their enterprise, writers, philosophers, and scientists believe that origins are alacritous keys to future hopes and aspirations.

Contributors include: Marcus Bullock, Michael Crawford, Patricia Engle, Carol Fischer, J. T. Fraser, Sabine Gross, Paul Harris, Rosemary Huisman, Karmen MacKendrick, Steven Ostovich, Walter Schweidler, Friedel Weinert, and Masae Yuasa.