[Report] Asian Philosophy Forum Lecture: Rein Raud “Rethinking Dōgen”

19 March, 2013 NAKAJIMA Takahiro, ISHII Tsuyoshi, MOON Kyungnam, L3 International Conferences for the Politics of Co-existence

On February 15, 2013, Professor Rein Raud (Professor, the University of Helsinki) gave a presentation entitled "Rethinking Dōgen" at Komaba Campus.

Professor Rein Raud is currently teaching Japanese Philosophy at the University of Helsinki and is also an author of a number of novels and poetry. The main topic of Professor Raud's presentation at UTCP was on how to read Dōgen's difficult (sometimes esoteric) work. He started with discussing the difference among various registers to read a text, such as philosophical, religious, and philological readings. He carefully demarcated the characteristics of philosophical reading from others. Next, he claimed that the experience of reading Dōgen's text philosophically is not a one-sided reception of self-evident monolithic meaning but a dynamic intercourse with text, contingent but rationally comprehensible in each case. Then he moved on to practice his method to read Dōgen's texts on mind, time, and Buddha nature which contain a lot of neologism comprised of Chinese characters.


Reverend Miyagawa, who is a monk of Tentokuji-temple, gave a comment on Professor Raud's presentation. He basically acknowledged the value of Professor Raud's method on how to read Dōgen's text. While admitting its efficacy, he pointed out as a monk that if we always encounter Dōgen's text with different possibilities of interpretation, it might be difficult for a monk or a general reader interested in Buddhism to apply Dōgen's thought to practical Buddhist training, for we would fail to find a concrete index for training. Another question raised by attendants is on the validity of Professor Raud's distinction between philosophical readings and others. The relationship between philology and philosophy is not infrequently compensatory thus it might be more intimate than Professor Raud has suggested. Regarding those questions, a lively dialogue followed.


Professor Raud's presentation provided us with both a persuasive reading of Dōgen's text and a lot of truly difficult and inevitable questions on methods of reading philosophical texts. His presentation showed us that a discussion must go on and Asian Philosophy should be considered seriously as a central example in the discussion.

(Report: MOON Kyungnam)

Related Events of UTCP

CPAG-UTCP Asian Philosophy Forum Lecture

Speaker: Rein Raud (Professor, The University of Helsinki)
Title: Rethinking Dōgen

Since its introduction to modern audiences, the work of Dōgen Zenji (1200-1253) has intrigued many thinkers both in Japan and the West, and new research as well as translations of or commentaries on his essays continue to appear. However, a number of remarkable cliches have embedded themselves in the reception of Dōgen's work, most of them based on the retroactive reading of modern or Western philosophical concepts into Dōgen's thinking. The aim of my talk will be to trace some of these cliches and to show how a less biased approach might help us to attain an easier and sometimes also rationally less demanding explanation of some key passages and concepts in his work.

Moderator: Takahiro NAKAJIMA (UTCP)
Commentator: Keishi MIYAGAWA (Tentokuji Temple)

Language: English | Admission Free | No Registration Required
Co-organized by
JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A-24242002): CPAG
The University of Tokyo, Center for Philosophy (UTCP)

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