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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses controversies surrounding the cultural identity of Japanese philosophy. Often presented as offering the first “non-Western universalism” over against Eurocentrism, authors have struggled to establish its distinctness, and this endeavor has been mired in questions of essentialism, Japanese imperialism, and cultural nationalism. The exemplary case of Nishida Kitarō’s New World Order essay is examined, and issues surrounding the identity of Japanese philosophy are analyzed historically as well as in the contemporary context of global neo-colonialism. The last section offers an alternative interpretation of Nishida, by way of a first-person approach, in order to produce an existential critical theory aiming at a “decolonized world order.”

Keywords: Japanese philosophy, universalism, cultural particularity, colonialism, neo-colonialism, nationalism, Eurocentrism, Nishida, essentialism, Nihonjin-ron

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