This is the first book dealing with the Soren Kierkegaard in Japan. It may seem strange that the Danish philosopher, theologian and writer, who is renowned in the western world as individualist and existentialist, has been read and studied in Japan since the turn of the century. The aim of this study is to explain why the Japanese came to read Kierkegaard, how several religious and non-religious lines of reception developed, and why he is still of current interest in post-modern Japan. When Kierkegaard lived (1813-55) behind the city walls of Copenhagen, Japan was still isolated. As the Empire entered the modern world, Kierkegaard's conceptions of self and identity, parts of his philosophy of religion, became important for the development of Japanese thinking in the twentieth century. This book tells the story of his influence - of its many currents within Japan, of the bridge between Japan and the West, and of the light this reception throws back on the Dane himself.This account is not only a tale of religious movements and affiliations apparently as diverse as Buddhism and Christianity, as well as of their many varieties and sources, but it must also be situated in relation to the broader framework of humanist studies.
The approach here incorporates aspects of historical, sociological, and philosophical research in order to describe the reception of Kierkegaard. In relation to the historical survey of the main lines since the turn of the century, the book includes seventeen dialogues with leading scholars on their work, covering the Japanese making of Kierkegaard during three generations.
Table of Contents
Contemporaneity in Japan; Two Angles; The History of Reception; A House with Many Dwellings; The Message; The Western Sender; The Eastern Recipient; Buddhist Background; Postscript - On the Bridge; Notes; Index.