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Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in early Twentieth-Century German Thought
Bloomsbury Academic

Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in early Twentieth-Century German Thought

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Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in early Twentieth-Century German Thought
Author(s): Eric S. Nelson

Presenting a comprehensive portrayal of the reading of Chinese and Buddhist philosophy in early twentieth-century German thought, Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought examines the implications of these readings for contemporary issues in comparative and intercultural philosophy.

Through a series of case studies from the late 19th-century and early 20th-century, Eric Nelson focuses on the reception and uses of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism in German philosophy, covering figures as diverse as Buber, Heidegger, and Misch. He argues that the growing intertextuality between traditions cannot be appropriately interpreted through notions of exclusive identities, closed horizons, or unitary traditions. Providing an account of the context, motivations, and hermeneutical strategies of early twentieth-century European thinkers' interpretation of Asian philosophy, Nelson also throws new light on the question of the relation between Heidegger and Asian philosophy. Reflecting the growing interest in the possibility of intercultural and global philosophy, Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought opens up the possibility of a more inclusive intercultural conception of philosophy.


Nelson's Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought is one of the most refined intercultural inquiry into modern and contemporary German philosophers’ Eurocentric tendencies (from Hegel to Heidegger) as well as counter-tendencies (from Leibniz to Buber) that one can read today. - Journal of Chinese Philosophy

“Books like this are always needful as we hopefully deconstruct and pluralize the grounds of philosophical activity. In these days of resurgent nationalism, global stupidity, ecological and economic crisis, and the ongoing siege against the humanities and philosophical discourse, this book feels especially needful and welcome … I would then offer the author nine bows of gratitude for this immensely valuable service on behalf of the rebirth of philosophy for all peoples, perhaps even all sentient beings, past, present, and future.” —Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy

“Eric Nelson's book has the great merit of drawing our attention to the experiences of some great forerunners in intercultural philosophy in Weimar Germany from the end of World War I to the rise of National Socialism in 1933. Nelson's book is not merely a work on some historical episodes of intercultural philosophy but also a work showing the how of intercultural philosophy in itself … [A] very rich and detailed reconstruction of the intercultural openings undertaken by German philosophers.” —Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

“Nelson shows great erudition in bringing together a wide variety of thinkers from both East and West, including importantly some lesser known, but very relevant thinkers from both the Western tradition and Eastern philosophy.” —Global Intellectual History

“This book offers lots of valuable information and entries for further research. It is well-written and has all the tools for easy reference and an impressive bibliography.” —Phenomenological Reviews

“A remarkably well-researched, thoughtful, and timely book. Its content lives up to its informative and wonderfully provocative title ... One of Nishitani's central claims is that nihilism can be overcome only by way of stepping back all the way through it ... we can thank Nelson for reintroducing us to this insight and for demonstrating how to heed it.” —Research in Phenomenology

“The breadth of Nelson's knowledge and the deftness with which he winds his way through so many figures and their respective conceptual vocabularies is mesmerizing ... a book unlike any other [which] raises the bar for anyone who teaches or writes comparative philosophy.” —Philosophy East and West

“This book is a revelation, tracing how ideas have traveled more than we have generally recognized. The dialogues between east and west have often been interpreted primarily as a one way exchange about how the East has learned from the West. It is time to appreciate the ways in which multiple journeys have occurred and how Eastern thought has, as a matter of fact, informed and been taken up in Western thought, particularly in German philosophy as illustrated in this work. This book is one of a kind and exemplifies all that we need to engage, to learn, and to become philosophers in the twenty-first century.” —Robin R Wang, 2016-17 Berggruen Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science, Stanford University, USA and author of Yinyang The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture

“In this groundbreaking study, Eric S. Nelson examines the impact of Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy on 20th Century German Thought. Through illuminating chapters on Buber, Heidegger, Misch, and others, Nelson sheds a unique light on the development of German Philosophy in the 20th Century, as well as on contemporary Comparative philosophy. This is an original and important work which reveals the influence of Asian Philosophy on Contemporary Continental thought, and which opens new perspectives for intercultural and comparative philosophy.” —Francois Raffoul, Professor of Philosophy and French Studies, Louisiana State University, USA

“This is a landmark study in comparative thought. By tracing Chinese and Japanese influences on modern German philosophy, Eric S. Nelson examines a pressing question of our troubled times: is there a common ground for universal wisdom? Is there a path forward? Perhaps the most satisfying outcome of this book is that the careful consideration of Asian sources sheds light on the ideas in Heidegger's later work. By explaining how these influences clarify key contentions in German philosophy, Nelson breaks new ground.” —Martin Schönfeld, Editor, Journal of Global Ethics and Professor of Philosophy, University of South Florida, USA

“Nelson has written an important ... riveting book.” —Philosophy

ISBN:  9781350101043