The encounter between Japan and the West posed a question as to whether there can be any mutual understanding between such seemingly different civilizations. Japanese intellectuals came to Europe to study Western thinking and found that the prevalent positivism and pragmatism were inadequate, and turned to phenomenology as a way of dealing with awareness, unavailable in other Western philosophical trends. Japanese opened a “dialogue” with such thinkers as Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger; this text is an explication of this “dialogue”..
From Zen to Phenomenology
opens the essential dimensions of transcendental phenomenology and the way of Zen in order to disclose the conjunction between these two “schools” of awareness. The research offered in the text traces the origins of Zen to the Buddhist Nagarjuna, presenting his arguments that all explanatory claims of awareness are “empty”. In Zen, the phenomenon of emptiness is a “place holder” depicted as basho where anything can appear without obstructions. The task, in the text, is to show how such a “place” can be reached by excluding claims by some Japanese and Western scholars as to the “aims” of Zen. The introduction of “aims” is equally an obstruction and must be avoided, just as an attachment to a specific Zen “school” is to be discarded.
Phenomenological analyses of time awareness show the presence of a domain which is composed of flux and permanence such that both aspects are given as empty “place holders” for any possible reality of any culture. The awareness of these aspects is neither one nor the other, and hence can appear through both as “primal” symbols fluctuating one through the other. If we say that everything changes, we encounter the permanence of this claim, and if we say that everything is permanent, we encounter an effort to maintain such permanence – both disclosing a “movement” between them, comprising a “place” for any understanding of a world explicated in any culture. This is the domain where Zen and transcendental phenomenology find their “groundless ground”. (Nova)
Michael W. Purdy,
Emeritus Professor, College of Arts & Science, Governors State University of Illinois, IL, USA. To read the review, click here
We’ve partnered with Copyright Clearance Center to make it easy for you to request permissions to reuse Nova content.
For more information, click here or click the "Get Permission" button below to link directly to this book on Copyright Clearance Center's website.