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date: 26 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

Many of us today can neither swallow the metaphysical dogma that would separate our souls from the natural world nor bite the deterministic bullet and renounce our longing for—and inner sense of—freedom. The question, then, is: Can we find a path that leads beyond these apparent conflicts between freedom and nature? One thing seems clear: if there is such a path of reconciliation, it must entail along the way a radical rethinking of the very concepts of “nature” and “freedom.” This essay demonstrates that Zen Buddhism and related strands of Japanese thought have much to contribute to precisely such a rethinking of nature and freedom—a rethinking that sees them as nondually interrelated in their origins and as ultimately reconcilable through practice. By drawing on a number of traditional and modern thinkers, it explores the philosophical sources in Japan for recognizing and realizing the possibility of a natural freedom.

Keywords: freedom, free will, nature, naturalness, natural freedom, philosophy of nature, environmental philosophy, Zen Buddhism, Japanese thought, Japanese philosophy

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