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The Kyoto University Department of the History of Japanese Philosophy was established in 1996 as part of the 1995 reorganization process of the Faculty of Letters. Since 1997, the department has been offering MA and PhD degrees in Japanese Philosophy.
The department makes as its primary focus of research the formation and development of Post-Meiji period Japanese Philosophy, within which Japanese thinkers encountered and deeply engaged Western Philosophy. The department therefore concerns itself with questions such as: What did these Japanese thinkers detect in Western Philosophy, what did they determine as problems, and how did they develop original work through the process of reception and confrontation?
Given that “the History of Japanese Philosophy” is its object of research, the department allows for either a historical or a philosophical emphasis of study. By way of a historical emphasis, one can, for example, investigate the development of the thought of Nishida Kitaro, Tanabe Hajime, Watsuji Tetsuro, and so on, and thereby elicit problems for consideration. On the other hand, by way of a philosophical emphasis, one can utilize the thought of the Post-Meiji Japanese philosophers as a lens to come to better terms with philosophical problems such as regarding semiotic, the body, the self, or history. It is the conviction of the department that such historical and philosophical investigations can work toward establishing a direction for future Japanese cultural and intellectual creativity.
With this aim in view, the department does not limit its frame of reference to Japanese Philosophy only, but encourages an interest and acquaintance with Western Philosophy. The department therefore considers it necessary to view Japanese Philosophy from a wide frame of reference. Much of Japanese Philosophy was brought into being through confrontation with Western Philosophy or through making Western Philosophy a springboard for original thinking. It is therefore the conviction of the department that if Western Philosophy is not apprehended, Japanese Philosophy itself can not adequately be apprehended. The department consequently holds that even the evaluation of the creative work of Japanese Philosophy is made possible by viewing Japanese Philosophy from this wide frame of reference which includes Western Philosophy.
On the other hand, it is clear that the formation of Japanese Philosophy was made possible within the intellectual and cultural tradition of Japan and of East-Asia. The department therefore also recognizes the great importance that should be attributed to the connection between the East-Asian tradition and Japanese Philosophy. The comparative study of East-Asian and Japanese Philosophy, as well as the comparative study of Western and Japanese Philosophy, is unquestionably an important and live subject. The department is actively committed to pursuing all such programs of study.
(The Department of the History of Japanese Philosophy requests that all inquiries not directly related to philosophical research-such as inquiries regarding admissions or scholarships-be kindly directed toward the appropriate administrative offices or institutions. The department is best suited to field only comments and questions regarding the field of Japanese Philosophy itself.)