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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter seeks to elucidate the philosophical implications of some distinctive traits of the grammar and word types of both Classical and Modern Japanese. It discusses in particular the emphasis on the predicate rather than the subject of the sentence, and hence on verbal processes rather than nominal substances, as well as the central role played by the “middle voice,” which expresses the spontaneous and natural unfolding of an occurrence rather than the activity or passivity of a subject. Such philosophical proclivities harbored in the Japanese language are explored by way of examining passages from the thirteenth-century Zen master Dōgen, the fourteenth-century classic Tsurezuregusa, and the twentieth-century philosopher Nishida Kitarō.

Keywords: Japanese language, philosophy of language, middle voice, Dōgen, Nishida Kitarō, Nishitani Keiji

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