Towards the Nonduality of Peace: A Phenomenological Study of Interculturalism East-West
This large-scale and long-term book project inquires into the philosophical framework conditions of the possibility of peace. The title takes its cue from Kant’s essay ‘Towards Perpetual Peace’. The term ‘towards’ suggests as a perennial dialogical task a methodological path that for Western epistemological, that is, in our case, phenomenological, reasons has to be taken ‘as if’ universal peace actually existed. It indicates a teleological approximation of the idea of peace but paradoxically and therefore helplessly not the fulfilled promise of its entelechy. Being thus elusive and in content indeterminate, peace pertains for ever more to mythos than to logos.
The Eastern intuition of the ‘nonduality’ of peace is the reason for exploring the structure of oriental thinking about individual reality- and self-experience. But human self-realisation must of necessity manifest itself and is ultimately embedded in international relations and our understanding of their global consequences for a humanity that strives towards being in harmony with itself. The thinking towards a philosophia pacis, which is grounded in the consciousness that everything is connected, contains a cognitive challenge to the very notion of philosophy. What therefore informs intercultural concerns is a world-contextual or axial-age awareness of the existential fragility of mankind in the nuclear and ecological age. While thematically more comprehensive, the intellectual remit of this research stands in close proximity to earlier articles and the book Hegelian Reflections on the Idea of Nuclear War: Dialectical Thinking and the Dialectic of Mankind (London: Macmillan and New York: St.Martin’s Press, 1991) – all translated and published in Japan as well.
As a presupposition for meeting its goal, and for the educational purpose of awakening and listening to other voices, the present project traces and elucidates Hindu, Daoist, and Buddhist traditions of all-unity thinking and the way it comes to language in Indian, Chinese and Japanese poetry and philosophy. Critically also, and unlike sociological inter-faith studies, transition sections do not take an interculturally comparative quid facti or political, practical and devotion-oriented approach. Rather, they deal with the quid iuris or theoretical and justification-based contrast between Western dualist Abrahamic or monotheistic religions of salvation as explained with reference to linear causality and Asian forms of world-immanent and hence nondual secular spirituality of liberation as described in terms of the causal principle of dependent origination.
Several spring research periods have been spent in Japan. These were privately and co-financed by the LSE, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation and the Japan Foundation. The universities studied at were: Senshu University (Tokyo), International Christian University (ICU) (Tokyo), Komazawa University (Tokyo), Sophia University (Tokyo), University of Tokyo, and University of Kyoto. Annual private or research-related visits to Japan were accompanied by lectures given at these institutions and at the Nihon University in Tokyo and the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) in Kyoto. Lectures at universities in Japan will be offered in future years as well. Draft texts of the project are internationally peer-reviewed. One section on ‘The Tendai Philosophy of Perfect Harmony’ was published in The Japan Mission Journal (Oriens Institute for Religious Studies), 2011, Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 154-161.