Publication Date

Fall 11-1-2009


Asian Philosophy





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This paper provides an analysis of the key term aidagara (“betweenness”) in the philosophical ethics of Watsuji Tetsurō (1889-1960), in response to and in light of the recent movement in Japanese Buddhist studies known as “Critical Buddhism.” The Critical Buddhist call for a turn away from “topical” or intuitionist thinking and towards (properly Buddhist) “critical” thinking, while problematic in its bipolarity, raises the important issue of the place of “reason” versus “intuition” in Japanese Buddhist ethics. In this paper, a comparison of Watsuji’s “ontological quest” with that of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), Watsuji’s primary Western source and foil, is followed by an evaluation of a corresponding search for an “ontology of social existence” undertaken by Tanabe Hajime (1885-1962). Ultimately, the philosophico-religious writings of Watsuji Tetsurō allow for the “return” of aesthesis as a modality of social being that is truly dimensionalized, and thus falls prey neither to the verticality of topicalism nor the limiting objectivity of criticalism.