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Going Back

Going Back Heidegger, East Asia and ‘the West’

Stella sandford

Heideggerʼs influence on some important strands of modern East Asian, and particularly Japanese, philosophy is well known. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s a number of scholars who would become major figures in Japanese philosophy (such as Miki Kiyoshi and Nishitani Keiji) visited Heidegger and attended his lectures. Heideggerʼs work was embraced, disseminated and even canonized in some Japanese schools of thought long before it made a significant mark on European philosophy. Tanabe Hajimeʼs 1924 Japanese-language essay ʻA New Turn in Phenomenology: Heideggerʼs Philosophy of Lifeʼ is widely thought to be the first substantial commentary on Heidegger in any language. Kuki Shuzoʼs 1933 The Philosophy of Heidegger (again, in Japanese) was the first book-length study in any language. [1] Being and Time was translated into Japanese in 1939, twentythree years before the first English translation, and five further Japanese translations of the work appeared in the following thirty years. [2] Of these Japanese philosophers Miki Kiyoshi was the only one seriously to criticize Heidegger after 1933; he was also the only Marxist. The most influential reception of Heideggerʼs work fed into the philosophical justification of fascism in Japan, as Tanabeʼs writings in particular show. [3]

It is interesting, therefore, that most of the now voluminous literature on the relationship between Heideggerʼs philosophy and East Asian thought centres on what Reinhard May calls the ʻcorrespondencesʼ between Heideggerʼs work and ancient Chinese and ancient Indian thought, [4] ʻcorrespondencesʼ which perhaps explain, to some degree, the ease with which Heidegger was read in twentieth-century China and Japan. (Heideggerʼs Japanese interlocutors and students often expressed amazement at the tendency of Heideggerʼs German contemporaries to find his work obscure and difficult.) In his early work on Heidegger, Graham Parkes even spoke of ʻcongruenciesʼ between Heideggerʼs work and these ancient sources being ʻpatterned by some thing, event, or processʼ. [5] More recent work suggests the rethinking of these congruencies in terms of the disavowed influence of ancient East Asian sources on Heideggerʼs philosophy, bringing them into even closer relation.

This article comprises a critical examination of some aspects of the English-language comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought. It questions both its transcendental conceptual ground – the conditions of possibility for the comparative exercise – and its account of Heideggerʼs philosophy itself. For the comparative literature, I will argue, can only make its specific claims, sympathetic to the Heideggerian philosophical project, with a reading of that project that represses most of what is fundamental to Heideggerʼs conception of philosophy and almost everything that we know about his politics. Furthermore, in its emphasis on the ancient it facilitates the repression of the history of Heideggerian fascism in modern East Asian, and particularly Japanese, thought. The point of this critical examination of the comparative literature is not, however, to expose a misreading of Heidegger. It is to reveal what is at stake in the mobilization of the imaginary geopolitical and geophilosophical unities of ʻthe Eastʼ and ʻthe Westʼ in relation to Heideggerʼs political-philosophical thinking of ʻthe Westʼ. Accordingly, I will look first at the claims typical in the advocatory comparative literature and then at the problematic conceptual ground of the comparison, both in terms of its immanent logic and its relation to Heideggerʼs conception of the history of philosophy.

The claims

The comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought is surprisingly large. The basic motivation and the substantial content of its main strand is well represented by Joan Stambaugh (translator of many of Heideggerʼs works, including Being and Time), who finds ʻa basic compatibilityʼ between Daoism and Heideggerʼs attempt to think beyond metaphysics. [6] Central to this, as to many of the compatibilist claims, is Heideggerʼs 1929 lecture ʻWhat is Metaphysics?ʼ, where the nothing is thought beyond its traditional metaphysical definition, that is, beyond its definition as ʻthe complete negation of the totality of beingsʼ: ʻThe nothing does not remain the indeterminate opposite of beings but reveals itself as belonging to the Being of beings.ʼ [7] For many commentators, Heideggerʼs attempt to think ʻNothingʼ outside of the Western history of nihilism (nihilism, that is, as Heidegger understands it: ʻThe essence of nihilism is the history in which there is nothing to being itselfʼ [8] ) is most easily understood in terms of the non-dualism of Daoist thought and the basic Daoist insight, as Reinhard May puts it, of the ʻcorrespondence between being and nothingʼ. Other ʻresonancesʼ (to use Graham Parkesʼs word) [9] between Heideggerʼs philosophy and ancient East Asian sources are not difficult to find. Translations of the ʻthe daoʼ as ʻthe wayʼ give rise to obvious comparisons between this ʻwayʼ and Heideggerʼs ʻwaysʼ (Wege) of thought, between this ʻwayʼ and Heideggerʼs ʻSayingʼ, [10] and even to an identification of the dao with what Heidegger calls Being itself. [11] The prominent place of death in Daoist thought may also be compared to the place of death in Being and Time, [12] the role of silence in Zen may be compared with the place of silence in Heideggerʼs later work, [13] and this by no means exhausts the comparative field.

It is often implied, almost by way of justification of the comparative project, that the discovery and explication of these parallels may help us to better understand or appreciate the significance of Heideggerʼs thought. This claim is in turn justified by reference to Heideggerʼs well-documented interest in ancient East Asian thought. In many of the published reminiscences of friends and students of Heidegger, and in other records of conversations and letters between Heidegger and others, it is clear that Heidegger was familiar with much ancient Chinese and Indian philosophy as it has survived in the form of the texts we know today. Heidegger had already been introduced to some of these texts by the early 1920s, it seems, and often discussed them, particularly with his Japanese interlocutors. From the standpoint of the current relative ignorance in the Western philosophical academy concerning ancient Chinese and Indian sources, Heideggerʼs knowledge may seem remarkable. But Heidegger and his contemporaries lived, institutionally, in the wake of the eighteenthand nineteenth-century German Romantic traditions in which knowledge of these texts – both originals and translations – was not uncommon. (Martin Buber, Rudolf Otto, Max Scheler, Karl Jaspers and Karl Löwith all had interests in Asian thought.) Reinhard May, Graham Parkes and others cite Heideggerʼs familiarity with Buberʼs Reden und Gleichnisse des Tschuang-Tse, a German translation of the Zhuangzi (or Chuanz-tzu) anthology, one of the two major works of Daoism. [14] To find this tradition upheld by an old-fashioned scholar of Heideggerʼs ilk is not surprising, and there is no doubt, May says, that although Heidegger could not read Chinese, he ʻvalued and appreciated East Asian thought, and Daoist ideas above all.ʼ [15] In most of the comparative literature, then, the congruencies between Heideggerʼs philosophy and East Asian thought are not explained as cosmic parallels, but justified – to a greater or lesser extent – with reference to Heideggerʼs ʻclearly stated interest in Eastern thinkingʼ. [16] Heidegger, that is, is presented as having led the way in East–West comparative philosophical studies, and the extension of the comparison to his own work is therefore natural.

However, even limiting the discussion here to a consideration of the English-language literature on Heideggerʼs relationship to ancient Chinese (specifically Daoist) sources, it is immediately obvious that there is more to the comparative literature than the mere noting of congruencies. Studies in comparative philosophy, as in comparative religion, literature, anthropology and so on, are always in part ideological enterprises. And the context of the comparative literature on Heidegger reveals, in a particularly explicit manner, a major ideological issue in the field of comparative philosophy more generally: the geopolitical contestation of the definition of philosophy itself.

The history of modern Western philosophy includes – and not just as an interlude – the oft-repeated claim that, as one of the Westʼs ʻothersʼ, China not only in fact never produced an indigenous properly ʻphilosophicalʼ tradition, but was necessarily incapable of doing so; either because of the various alleged conceptual and grammatical inadequacies of Chinese or because of the regrettable absence of Western political forms in China. To an extent, the comparative literature in English is based on the presumption that this claim is wrong and on the desire to open ʻthe Westʼ up to dialogue with the philosophical traditions of ʻthe Eastʼ. (Thus Elisabeth Feist Hirsch writes: ʻIn an age of constantly narrowing distances between nations it is most important that East and West not only come to a deeper appreciation of their respective intellectual commitments, but that they communicate with each other in the true sense of the word.ʼ [17] ) This essentially well-meaning urge is often true of EuroAmerican comparative studies more generally, but it has a peculiar twist in the case of comparisons with Heidegger: what, for the history of modern Western philosophy, constitutes the inadequacies of Chinese language and thought, constitutes, for the comparative literature, its precise superiority and its point of contact with Heidegger.

China, it is said, did not ever have, nor did its peoples ever feel the need for, ʻmetaphysicsʼ. For sinologists like Joseph Needham, unacquainted with the philosophy of Heidegger, this refers to the absence of those distinctions, which, for many, are the sine qua non of Western philosophy. In the second volume of the massive multi-volume Science and Civilization in China, edited by Needham until his death, he writes:

we believe that the Chinese mind throughout the ages did not, on the whole, feel the need for metaphysics; physical Nature (with all that implied at the highest levels) sufficed. The Chinese were extremely loath to separate the One from the many or the ʻspiritualʼ from the ʻmaterialʼ. Organic naturalism was their philosophia perennis. [18]

While Needham means these remarks to be complimentary, others descriptions are less sympathetic. One chapter of Hajime Nakamuraʼs Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples, entitled ʻNon-Development of Abstract Thoughtʼ, claims that the ʻLack of Consciousness of Universalsʼ (a section title) is ʻsymptomatic of the general lack of consciousness of genus and differentia in the abstract among the Chineseʼ. The ʻLack of Conscious Use of General Lawsʼ and the ʻGrammatical Ambiguity of Chinese Language and Thoughtʼ (more section titles) means that ʻ[w]e should not expect … the Chinese language would be as suitable as the Greek for philosophizingʼ. The Japanese (which ʻhas had, at least in the past, a structure unfit for expressing logical conceptionsʼ, and other ʻdefectsʼ) is likewise considered inferior in comparison with the Sanskrit, Greek and German. [19] Nakamura, himself Japanese, clearly adduces these conceptual and linguistic differences as evidence of the superiority of Western models of philosophical thinking. These same differences, however, read through another optic, are the basis for the claim that Heideggerʼs project of the overcoming of metaphysics finds ʻresonancesʼ in the ancient sources, which – with their non-dualistic logic and this-worldly emphasis – had, as Needham says, ʻpersistently eluded all metaphysicsʼ. [20] That is to say, the characteristics Nakamura finds lacking in Chinese thought – preponderantly, the characteristics of a philosophical practice founded on Aristotelian logical categories – are easily identified with the categories of Western metaphysics, as Heidegger understands it. For Graham Parkes, finding these parallels with ʻa nonand anti-metaphysical philosophy from a totally different historical and cultural situation lend[s] considerable weight to Heideggerʼs claim to have succeeded in overcoming the western metaphysical traditionʼ. [21]

The discussion of these correspondences, congruencies and compatibilities took a different turn, however, with the publication in 1989 of Reinhard Mayʼs Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources (translated into English in 1996). May refers his readers to Nakamuraʼs section on ʻNon-development of Metaphysicsʼ, as well as to Needhamʼs comments, for authoritative support for his claims about Chinese philosophy, claims that are the basis of the ensuing comparison with what he sees as the most fundamental philosophical commitments of Heideggerʼs work. [22] To this extent, Mayʼs book is not at odds with what we could call the mainstream of the comparative literature. However, his central claim is considerably stronger than anything previously found in it. His claim is that Heideggerʼs work from the mid-1920s, if not before, was influenced by these East Asian sources to ʻa hitherto unrecognized extentʼ, and that ʻit seems probable that Heidegger, without stating his sources, in a number of cases of central importance appropriated ideas germane to his work from German translations primarily of Daoist classics but presumably of Zen Buddhist texts as well.ʼ [23] May claims, explicitly, that Heidegger sought and found his new beginning in philosophy from these East Asian sources, although Heidegger would never openly acknowledge this. [24] Interpreting some of Heideggerʼs retrospective marginal notes in Being and Time, May implies that Heideggerʼs indebtedness to these sources extends even to the thinking of Being itself. Documenting the various ancient East Asian texts and thinkers with which Heidegger was undoubtedly familiar and comparing these – in great detail – with many of the major themes in Heideggerʼs work leads May to the following conclusion:

Where [Heideggerʼs] thinking has from early on received its (ʻsilentʼ) directive from is now not difficult to surmise. From ancient Chinese thought – for metaphysics, so conceived, was never developed there. Being neither indebted to Aristotelian logic nor receptive to an ontology involving a subject–object dichotomy, nor, above all, being conditioned by any theology, ancient Chinese thought was completely remote from the assertion of ʻeternal truthsʼ, which belong according to Heidegger ʻto the residue of Christian theology that has still not been properly eradicated from philosophical problematicsʼ. [25]

Graham Parkes, Mayʼs English translator, is thoroughly convinced by Mayʼs evidence and has pursued these claims further.

The comparison

There thus seem to be two different types of claims in the comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought: claims about ʻresonancesʼ and claims about Heideggerʼs secret indebtedness. However, in so far as they are both dependent on an untheorized logic of comparison, the basis and the specific content of both types of claims are, I will suggest, dubious on several counts.

First, a comparison, if it is to retain its status as comparative, generally requires a context including – crucially – some mediating third term, distinct from either of the comparandae (here, Heideggerʼs philosophy and ancient Chinese thought) according to which the comparandae are compared. In the Englishlanguage literature under discussion here that third term is most often defined negatively as the absence (in Chinese thought) or the overcoming (in Heidegger) of ʻWestern metaphysicsʼ. As noted, both the traditional and the specifically Heideggerian senses of the history of Western philosophy as metaphysics seem to exclude consideration of Chinese thought as philosophy in a certain sense, albeit with a different understanding of what is implied in this exclusion. However, the same thing that, from the traditional Western philosophical perspective, writes China out of the history of philosophy, assures its entry into that same history, from the equally but differently Western Heideggerian perspective of the overcoming of Western metaphysics. This structure of internality besets the comparative literature: that is, its alleged East–West dialogue, conducted from the point of view, and according to the preoccupations, of the West (here, the overcoming of Western metaphysics), is primarily a dialogue of the West with itself. Accordingly, the epitome of the comparative literature on Heidegger is an essay written by Heidegger himself, translated into English as ʻA Dialogue on Language: Between a Japanese and an Enquirerʼ, a text which, according to Heidegger, ʻoriginated in 1953/54, on the occasion of a visit by Professor Tezuka of the Imperial University, Tokyoʼ, but one in which the parts of both ʻthe Japaneseʼ and the ʻInquirerʼ are in fact played by Heidegger. [26]

May treats this essay as something of a scandal, as if Heidegger was trying to pretend that the words spoken by ʻa Japaneseʼ should be directly attributable to Tezuka. Although there is something a little creepy about the dialogue (Heidegger is unstinting in his praise for his own work through the mouth of ʻthe Japaneseʼ), it is not misleading in the way May suggests: most readers would probably presume that Heidegger plays both parts in this dialogue, just as most readers assume that Plato wrote all the parts in his. This kind of one-sided exchange, in which the position of only one of the interlocutors is properly developed, is also a recognizable genre, ʻstandard practice in traditional dialogues in both East and Westʼ, of which Malebrancheʼs 1708 dialogue between a Christian and a Chinese philosopher is a notable example. [27] If Heideggerʼs ʻDialogueʼ is only a ʻdialogueʼ in the sense that that word names a particular genre of writing, its content is preoccupied with the issue of the possibility or impossibility of an East–West dialogue in a deeper sense. While May reads it as proof both of Heideggerʼs indebtedness to East Asian sources and his attempts to cover this over, it is equally plausibly read as a statement of Heideggerʼs belief in the fundamental and incommensurable differences between philosophical traditions, and of the extraordinary difficulty, if not the impossibility, of a true dialogue, despite the best intentions of the interlocutors. [28]

Even where the comparative literature acknowledges in some way the problem of internality it does not mange to avoid it. Michael Heim, for example, begins his essay ʻA Philosophy of Comparison: Heidegger and Lao Tzuʼ with the claim that the notion of ʻcomparisonʼ animating such studies needs articulation in a philosophy of comparison (not just comparative philosophy), and that the ʻplaceʼ of such a philosophy is not outside or above the comparandae but somehow between them. The empirical fact of ʻthe interpenetration of East and Westʼ means that comparative philosophy can no longer orient itself ʻon a simple geographical or cultural dualityʼ, and as the reality of ʻinternational communicationʼ is really the homogenization of communication ʻin a planetary culture [that] is the triumph of Western technology coupled with the culmination of the logos traditionʼ (by which he means the hegemony of ʻthe ideological public statementʼ as distinct from ʻpersonal human truthʼ), the category of the ʻunspeakableʼ is deployed as the ʻfree openingʼ or ʻnegative spaceʼ in which comparative philosophy might operate. However, this ʻnegative spaceʼ (between, for example, Heidegger and Lao Tzu) ʻcan be characterized in any set of philosophies by showing in what way the comparandae contribute to the culmination of the logos tradition in the unspeakable or in what way the comparandae contribute to the cultivation of the unsayableʼ. [29] That is, the negative space between Heidegger and Lao Tzu is characterized, ultimately, in wholly Heideggerian terms. (It may be, of course, that the discourse of Heideggerianism is constitutively incapable of reflection in non-Heideggerian terms, but that is another story.) These sorts of criticism apply, most obviously, to the comparative literature that sets out to uncover resonances between Heideggerʼs philosophy and East Asian thought across the millennia. And, at first sight, it looks like the stronger claims made by May and Parkes avoid them, both in the historical location of a series of appropriations, and in the privileging of the ancient Chinese sources in the comparison – Heideggerʼs philosophical categories being, in some sense, a ʻtranslationʼ of these sources. In fact, I will argue, these stronger claims are subject to the same logic of comparison, and thus suffer from the same internality.

Stepping back, briefly, into Heideggerʼs history of philosophy, how should we understand its conception of the overcoming of Western metaphysics, the success of which is crucial to many of the claims in the comparative literature? The answer to this is complex, but one thing seems clear. There is no question of a clean break, no question of two separate histories of metaphysical and post-metaphysical thinking or of a leaping outside of the history of Western metaphysics. This is evident in Heideggerʼs incessant return to the texts that comprise that history, not only empirically (in the fact of the return) but also more fundamentally, in the animating belief in the necessity of that return and in what is thereby to be achieved. The project of the overcoming of Western metaphysics, where ʻWestern metaphysicsʼ means, above all, the understanding of the Being of beings as constant presence, is not achieved through the dismissal of its history, but by paying attention to its own hints at another concealingly-unconcealed understanding of Being. Of course, the word ʻBeingʼ itself belongs to what Heidegger calls ʻthe patrimony of the language of metaphysicsʼ, [30] which would lead, among other experiments, to its being crossed through and to the restoration of its archaic German spelling (Seyn);31 but never to its abandonment.

It is remarkable, then, that one subject rarely broached in the comparative literature on Heidegger is the absence in Chinese of the verb ʻto beʼ and of the abstract noun ʻBeingʼ. [32] In the exclusion of Chinese thought from the realm of the philosophical in the traditional history of Western philosophy and its others, this ʻlackʼ was often considered decisive. That is, for many, this was the mark of the Chinese incapacity for metaphysical thought, a presumption in which the linguistic and the anthropological were inseparably entwined, hence the tendency (unbelievably, still not yet dead) to speak of ʻthe Chinese mindʼ (a truly astonishing construction of the unity of China). [33] If the claim in the comparative literature is that it is the non-metaphysical aspects of Chinese thought that bear comparison with Heideggerʼs philosophy, then this, perhaps the most un-metaphysical aspect of all, ought surely to be foregrounded.

That it is not foregrounded may at first sight appear as the passing over of an embarrassing lack of resonance devastating for the comparative case. This is not actually quite so, but it is intriguing. Heidegger, as is well known, repeatedly refers to the importance for him of Aristotleʼs posing the question of the meaning of being, more particularly his observation that being is said in many ways. [34] In separating out the different senses of being, Aristotle distinguishes what we now call the copulative and the existential senses of being, although confusion of these two senses continued to cause problems in philosophy for many centuries. For some, however, it is the illusion of an overarching unity of the sense of being – an effect of the inherent ambiguity of the verb and of the capacity for IndoEuropean languages to derive from it an abstract noun – that is the mistake in Western philosophy. In the eyes of at least one prominent sinologist, the absence of the verb ʻto beʼ and of a unifying concept of being is one of the main features recommending ancient Chinese philosophy. According to A.C. Graham, ʻClassical Chinese deals with the various functions covered by our verb “to be” by means of at least six different sets of words and constructions, several of which have other functions outside the scope of “to be”.ʼ [35] In particular, Classical Chinese has different and specific words for the copulative and the existential senses of the word ʻbeingʼ, thus avoiding the kind of confusion germane, for example, to Anselmʼs ontological argument. In translating Anselmʼs argument without the benefit of an ambiguous verb ʻto beʼ, Chinese translators have, according to Graham, coined a new word with the syntax of the English ʻexistʼ (a syntax otherwise foreign to Chinese), a word that has no function in the language except in the translation of Western texts. One may thus, he says, ʻintroduce into Chinese thought the error of treating existence as a predicate, which it took the West 2000 years to exposeʼ. [36]

Graham did not, unfortunately, ever discuss the Chinese translations of Being and Time. However, his philosophical position on fundamental ontology may be extrapolated from his various remarks about ʻthe oddity of the Western tradition … in which the concept of Being covers the whole range of the Indo-European verb “to be”ʼ. [37] For Graham, the fact that symbolic logic has no symbol for being in this sense38 and that everyday use of the verb ʻto beʼ is almost exclusively copulative (the existential functions having been taken over by phrases such as ʻthere isʼ, ʻil y aʼ, ʻes gibtʼ) suggests that philosophers should abandon ʻbeingʼ as incurably ambiguous. The ghost of the old concept still walks, he says, ʻbut one may well ask in what sense Western thinkers, however confidently they may talk of Being, may be said to retain a concept which no longer has a place in either their natural or their artificial languages.ʼ [39]

For Graham, one of the virtues of ancient Chinese philosophy is that in ʻlackingʼ the concept of Being it is non-metaphysical, in the sense that logical positivists demand that philosophy be non-metaphysical (that is, anti-metaphysical). Grahamʼs objection is that ʻbeingʼ is ambiguous, and that we should therefore drop it in philosophy, but this is the kind of objection on which Heidegger pours scorn in the opening pages of Being and Time. It is not an objection that the authors of the comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought are therefore likely to countenance. This is a complex linguistic issue, but if a concept of Being is peculiar to Indo-European languages and absent in Chinese, and if Heidegger continues to speak of Being as differentiated from all ontic determinations of beings, it is difficult to see how this does not mark a decisive dissimilarity with ancient Chinese philosophy, and it would make more sense to say that Heidegger failed to learn from it, than that it was his inspiration.

However, as Heidegger was reading German translations of Classical Chinese that imposed categories from Western philosophy (as a necessity of translation) there would still be grounds to claim, as May does, that these texts were influential. A large part of Mayʼs case against Heidegger is the argument that the (silent) appropriation of one basic insight forms the basis of Heideggerʼs discussion of the nothing in ʻWhat is Metaphysics?ʼ and An Introduction to Metaphysics, specifically: ʻThe East Asian way of thinking distinguishes itself in Daoism through the ancient insight, embodied in chapter 2 of the Laozi, to the effect that yu (being) and wu (nothing) mutually produce one another.ʼ [40] This looks like a translation of the Chinese characters into English (German in Mayʼs original), but, according to Grahamʼs argument above, it must be equally, if not more so, a translation of the German/English concept back into the Chinese. In that case, however, the alleged affinity is between Heideggerʼs philosophy and Western renderings of ʻEast Asian thoughtʼ which, once again, are really a dialogue of the West with itself, having ʻdiscoveredʼ its own categories in the thought of another tradition. This is certainly how much of the comparative literature – albeit unwittingly – expresses the relation. Feist Hirsch, for example, writes that ʻZen Buddhism … arrives at the conclusion that the world man lives in points to Buddhahood. Thus Zen agrees with Heideggerʼs view to the effect that Being-there transcends toward Being.ʼ [41] Mayʼs reversal, despite appearances to the contrary, cannot but fall under the same suspicion. In this case the mediating third term of the comparison, here an understanding of Being in some way ʻbeyondʼ Western metaphysics, is really internal to one of the comparandae and imposed on the other, as is most clear in Feist Hirschʼs claim.

‘the west’

Exposing this structure of internality is not intended as a criticism of the motivation of the comparative literature so much as an argument for the necessity for critical reflection on its immanent logic and its founding categories, ʻthe ʻEastʼ and the ʻWestʼ. The need is particularly acute in comparative studies on Heidegger and ʻthe Eastʼ not because Heidegger fails to address the function of these categories, but, on the contrary, precisely because of the way in which he makes an articulation of the category of ʻthe Westʼ central to his philosophical concerns. Any attempt to compare the specificity of Heideggerʼs philosophy and any ʻEasternʼ source must surely take this articulation into account. That the comparative literature does not do this further undermines the viability of the comparison between Heideggerʼs philosophy and East Asian thought, on grounds immanent to Heideggerʼs philosophy itself. For important aspects of the comparative case can in fact only be made when Heidegger is rendered unHeideggerian with respect to some of his fundamental philosophical commitments regarding ʻthe Westʼ. This argument needs to be made against the comparative literature, I will argue, not as a defence of Heidegger against May et al., but in order to remove an obstacle to criticism of Heidegger, criticism that the comparative literature neutralizes and in so neutralizing obviates its own best impulse.

This is clearest in the elaboration and justification of Mayʼs and Parkesʼs stronger claim about the East Asian influence on Heidegger: the idea that these similarities are not coincidental (as Parkes previously believed) but evidence of Heideggerʼs ʻclandestineʼ [42] indebtedness, more fundamental to his thought than any indebtedness to the Western tradition. In pursuing these claims further Parkes concludes, too, that Heidegger not only kept silent about the debt he owed to these sources, but disavowed them; more bluntly, he lied.

To anyone familiar with certain of Heideggerʼs silences and his revisionist memories of relations and allegiances, this is all too easy to believe. Still, neither May nor Parkes actually give a reason for Heideggerʼs reticence or dishonesty here. May quotes Heidegger referring more or less obliquely to his ʻhidden sourcesʼ (Heideggerʼs own phrase43), and of a ʻdeeply hidden kinshipʼ between his thinking and aspects of Japanese thought: ʻIn other words, he speaks of a connection based on his adoption of some essential traits of East Asian thinking which, for reasons easy to understand, he declined to reveal.ʼ [44] May contrasts the details of his comparison between Heideggerʼs philosophy and the ancient East Asian sources with the very few published references to East Asian thought in Heideggerʼs work and with his explicit denials of their influence or of the current importance of these texts for Western thinkers, but concludes that Heidegger left behind ʻwell-encoded signs of a confessionʼ. [45] He ends his book, not with a criticism of Heidegger, but with the idea that Heidegger ʻhas paid tribute in a unique wayʼ to the Westʼs task to devote itself to non-Western thinking: ʻHeidegger has, in his own special way, demonstrated the necessity of transcultural thinking.ʼ [46] Similarly, despite Heideggerʼs ʻreticenceʼ in acknowledging his debts, Parkes concludes that to the extent that Mayʼs demonstration is successful, ʻrather than diminish Heideggerʼs significance as a thinker it makes him in many ways even more interestingʼ. [47] Further, Parkes suggests that in bringing these hidden sources to light May operates in accord with Heideggerʼs own method, thinking what is unthought in Heideggerʼs texts, following Heideggerʼs own maxim in his lecture course on Platoʼs Sophist: ʻIt is in any case a dubious thing to rely on what an author himself has brought to the forefront. The important thing is rather to give attention to those things he left shrouded in silence.ʼ [48] What, however, remains shrouded in silence in the comparative literature itself?

Remarking that ʻthe Eurocentrism of so much Heidegger scholarship in the West has rendered it oblivious to the long and interesting history of the reception of Heideggerʼs ideas in the non-Western intellectual worldʼ, [49] Parkesʼs implication seems to be that Heideggerʼs work is not itself Eurocentric. Heideggerʼs frequent remarks about Europe, and especially about the historic role of the ancient Greeks and the destiny of the German people, are left uncriticized and unexamined. What is in fact obvious in Heideggerʼs reluctance to ʻadmitʼ the East Asian influence on his work – namely, the profoundly, almost parodically, Eurocentric commitment at the heart of his philosophy – simply vanishes. That is, it is vanished in and by the comparisons with ʻEasternʼ sources. This is not only because these aspects of Heideggerʼs work must be among the most embarrassing paragraphs for his sympathetic readers, second only – but intimately related to – his enthusiasm for German ʻNational Socialismʼ. It is also because the philosophical position expressed in them is profoundly at odds with the comparative project.

It would be easy enough to pick oneʼs way through Heideggerʼs work and find numerous references to the essentially Greek nature of Western philosophy and to the necessity to return to the Greek origin. I shall quote just one example. In the interview with Der Spiegel (conducted in 1966) Heidegger says of the ʻreversalʼ – that is, the overcoming – of the technicization of the modern world, which is the ʻcompletionʼ or result of Western metaphysics:

it is my conviction that a reversal can be prepared only in the same place in the world where the modern technological world originated, and that it cannot happen because of any takeover by Zen Buddhism or any other Eastern experiences of the world. There is a need for a rethinking which is to be carried out with the help of the European tradition and of a new appropriation of that tradition.

Thinking itself can be transformed only by a thinking which has the same origin and calling. [50]

May says we must understand this passage as ʻa tactically necessary “cover-up” manoeuvre that turned out to be necessary for the preservation of his secretʼ. Parkes says Heideggerʼs denial, in a letter to Jaspers, of any ʻresonances with Eastern thinkingʼ in his work ʻspeaks volumesʼ, by which he seems to want to suggest that the denial is itself a covert admission. [51] The major presumption of the comparative literature – both in extremis in May and less combatively in Parkes and elsewhere – is thus that remarks and denials such as these must either be taken to be extra-philosophical opinions that say something about the man but not about the philosophy (as many would read Heideggerʼs political ʻopinionsʼ too), or they must be taken to represent a philosophical position that somehow contradicts the true Heidegger or the true Heideggerian philosophy. This is a familiar tactic in many apologetic discussions of the racist or sexist or misogynistic ʻopinionsʼ of various philosophers; a tactic recently and persuasively criticized by Robert Bernasconi. 52 According to this way of reading, Heideggerʼs remarks must be taken to be reprehensible, as lies or mistruths, but may be dismissed.

In fact, Heideggerʼs remarks are perfectly consonant with, perhaps even exemplary of, philosophical commitments that were evident in his work before the 1920s and which endured to the end – turns and new beginnings notwithstanding. The peculiar form of Heideggerʼs basic insistence on the historicality of Dasein means that we are supposedly indebted to the Greek origin ʻwhich goes to the essence of our Dasein, i.e., its total existenceʼ. In The Essence of Truth, for example (the lecture course from 1931/2), we are said to ʻremain bonded and obligated to that beginning whether we know it or not … our Dasein stands in the history of the beginning of Western philosophyʼ and contemporary life, even the fact that today we ʻtravel by tram … means nothing else but that the beginning of Western philosophy, albeit without our recognizing it, is immediately effectiveʼ. [53] For ʻusʼ, then, going back to the Greek origin, trying to grasp the Greek understanding of being, is ʻnot a matter of acquiring external historical knowledgeʼ, but of investigating its ʻconstant (albeit hidden) influence on our contemporary existenceʼ. [54]

If, as Heidegger claims, ʻman finds the proper abode of his existence in languageʼ, [55] it seems that we must assume a difference in the nature of what he calls ʻEuropean existenceʼ and ʻEast Asian existenceʼ, ʻsince the nature of language remains something altogether different for the Eastasian and the European peoplesʼ. If language is the house of being, ʻthen we Europeans presumably dwell in an entirely different house than Eastasian manʼ, he says in ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ. [56] Despite the fact that Heidegger talks, in ʻThe Origin of the Work of Artʼ, about perished worlds, world-withdrawal and world-decay, [57] he assumes some continuity of existence, in some sense, between ancient Greece and modern Europe because of the linguistic family relation. (Why the Indic branch of the Indo-European family is excluded is not explained.) Further, this linguistic affinity supposedly ensures that we can return to the Greek origin and that we can, according to Heidegger, experience aletheia in the Greek sense, [58] or actually think ʻin Greek termsʼ. [59] It is this imaginary, purely cultural-linguistic continuity that, for Heidegger, unifies ʻthe Westʼ.

Everything suggests that for Heidegger the task of the overcoming of Western metaphysics is, for essential reasons, a ʻEuropeanʼ task for ʻEuropeanʼ peoples: a task which could only be a task for European existence and which only European existence could undertake, even after what he calls the Europeanization of the world. [60] To the extent that this argument is based on linguistic affinity, it turns out that for Heidegger ʻEuropeʼ means ʻGermanyʼ. The Germans, Heidegger says in the interview with Der Spiegel, have a special role in the task because ofthe inner relationship of the German language with the language of the Greeks and with their thought.

This has been confirmed for me today again by the French. When they begin to think, they speak Ger-man, being sure that they could not make it with their own language. [61]

Heidegger stuck to this view for more than 35 years. In The Essence of Human Freedom (a lecture course from 1930) he says that the extent to which all genuine languages are philosophical like the Greek (ʻit philosophizes in its basic structure and formationʼ) ʻdepends on the depth and power of the people who speak the language and exist within it. Only our German language has a deep and creative philosophical character to compare with the Greek.ʼ [62] In this bizarre, arbitrary linguistic nationalism it is impossible not to see a relationship between Heideggerʼs conception of Western philosophy and his politics. If the comparative literature on Heidegger tends to leave this out of account, preferring instead an abstract conception of ʻHeideggerʼs thoughtʼ detached not just from its historical and political context but from its own (even its own-most) being-historical and being-political, its concomitant silence on the fascist reception of Heidegger in Japan becomes comprehensible. The two are, simply, too closely connected. The idealist ground of the comparison facilitates this silence: the ideas in two sets of texts are interpreted and compared without consideration of their historical situations and meanings. This is more obvious with the first type of comparative claim about congruencies, [63] but it applies equally to the stronger claims about the East Asian influences on Heidegger, in so far as they neglect Heideggerʼs historico-political situation. Radically dehistoricized, uprooting thought from the factic basis on which Heidegger himself insisted, these comparisons are alien to any sense of the necessity of social-cultural or political context in the understanding of any given philosophical position or project. This is not to say, of course, that resonances cannot still be found, especially if one is looking for them. The idealism of comparative philosophy does not refute its own findings; on the contrary, it is one of its conditions of possibility.

The choice of greece

None of this necessarily constitutes a refutation of any of the specific claims of influence in the comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought. But in failing to address the extent to which Heidegger locates the problem and the task of philosophy, and the form of existence adequate to it, in a radically reduced German nationalist idea of Europe, the comparative literature overlooks what is actually foundational to its own project: the construction of a history of Western philosophy in a determining opposition to the East. Heidegger was not the first to imagine ancient Greece as the birthplace of Western philosophy, but his work – especially as mediated by Levinas and Derrida – is largely responsible for the status that this idea continues to enjoy in continental philosophy. To the extent that the self-conception of continental philosophy as an engaged relation with the history of philosophy presumes just this history of philosophy – so often presumes, as one may read over and over, that philosophy is Greek64 – the very idea of continental philosophy appears to be mortgaged to it. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, it was presumed in Europe that the wisdom of the Greeks was derived from non-European sources, specifically (but not exclusively) Egypt, Persia and India. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, this was supplanted by the completely different – and now hegemonic – story of the exclusively Greek origin of what began to be called ʻWestern philosophyʼ. As Robert Bernasconi points out, the narrowing of the history of philosophy to its origins in Greece needs to be understood in relation to a certain narrowing of the conception of philosophy itself, making it possible for us to speak now of the exclusion of certain traditions of thought, including the Chinese, from the Western conception of philosophy. [65] (On this much, at least, the continental and the Anglo-American analytic philosophical traditions of the twentieth century have been in agreement.) Only after this exclusion can comparisons be made, because only after this exclusion are there two distinct traditions to be compared.

Despite the best intentions of the comparative literature on Heidegger, it cannot avoid a paradoxical collusion with this kind of history of Western philosophy, a history which has, indeed, been the condition of possibility for the field of East–West comparative studies in philosophy. ʻWestern philosophyʼ and ʻAsian thoughtʼ (the latter internally subdivided into the imaginary unities of East Asian and Indian thought) are themselves ʻWesternʼ categories. The categories both provide the conceptual ground for comparative studies, as that which is to be compared, and throw the ground of that comparison into doubt in so far as they are internal to the Western problematic, just as the categories metaphysical/non-metaphysical are internal to the Western problematic. The obvious deconstructive fillip – the ʻEastʼ is, of course, therefore internal to the definition of the ʻWestʼ – does not refute, but rather confirms this, rendering the critical investigation of the categories all the more compelling.

The problems with the East–West comparative model are quite general, but, as I have argued, the use of the model in relation to Heideggerʼs work poses its own unique difficulty. For Heidegger the question of the Greek ʻoriginʼ of philosophy and of Western civilization was not a question of any historiographic or factual beginning; it was, quite emphatically, not an empirical question. The positing of the Greek origin constituted, for Heidegger, the resolute repetition of a tradition, a resolute philosophical choice that not only sanctioned but also necessitated a disregard for the historical ʻfactsʼ about the empirical origins of philosophy. [66] But it is precisely this conception of the origin as resolute repetition that stymies the comparative project of the literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought, at least in so far as it claims to be Heideggerian. In Heideggerʼs resolute repetition of the Western tradition a choice has been made – the choice of Greece, the choice of the West, the choice of Europe and the choice of Germany. This is, moreover, a necessary choice for Heidegger (ʻit is my conviction that a reversal can only be prepared in the same place…ʼ) and it is a choice that excludes ʻthe Eastʼ, constitutively. Once again, this does not refute the claim that Heidegger was influenced by Daoist texts, but it does suggest that the comparative literature ought to include a critical reflection on Heideggerʼs political-philosophical position on ʻthe Westʼ, which is in so many ways anathema to the ideological presuppositions of the comparative project.

Though Heidegger was obviously gratified by the interest in his work in East Asia, one consequence of his relation to the ʻoriginalʼ texts of his own tradition was his apparent belief that East Asians should go back to the ʻoriginalʼ texts of theirs. [67] In so far as the comparative literature on Heidegger and East Asian thought constitutes such a ʻgoing backʼ the mediating third term in the comparison – something beyond Western metaphysics – is also inflected in it as this idea of ʻgoing backʼ (inseparable, in this context, from the idea of ʻancientnessʼ). This both rules out the possibility of a comparison with modern East Asian philosophy and sails dangerously close to that orientalism for which ʻthe Eastʼ signified the ancient in distinction from the modernity of ʻthe Westʼ. [68] Furthermore, on the back of Heideggerʼs return to ancient sources, it seems to enable the metonymic construction of Heidegger as himself a timeless source, thus, once again, avoiding the historically and culturally located specificity of his philosophical-political position, and sidestepping the necessity for critique.


1. ^ See Graham Parkes, ʻRising Sun over Black Forest:

Heideggerʼs Japanese Connectionsʼ, in Reinhard May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources: East Asian Influences on His Work, trans. Graham Parkes, Routledge, London and New York, 1996, pp. 82,

93. ^

2. ^ See Graham Parkes, ʻTranslatorʼs Prefaceʼ, in May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. ix.

3. ^ On Tanabe see Naoki Sakai, ʻEthnicity and Species: On the Philosophy of the Multi-ethnic State in Japanese Imperialismʼ, Radical Philosophy 95, May/June 1999; reprinted in Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford, eds, Philosophies of Race and Ethnicity, Continuum, London, 2002. On Miki see Harry Harootunian, Overcome By Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2000, pp. 358–414.

4. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 24.

5. ^ See Graham Parkes, ʻIntroductionʼ, in G. Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1990, p. 4.

6. ^ Joan Stambaugh, ʻHeidegger, Taoism, and the Question of Metaphysicsʼ, in Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought, p. 89.

7. ^ Martin Heidegger, ʻWhat is Metaphysics?ʼ, trans. David Farrell Krell, in Basic Writings, Routledge, London, 1993, pp. 98, 108.

8. ^ Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche, Volume IV, trans. Frank A. Capuzzi, HarperCollins, New York, 1982, p. 201.

9. ^ See May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 27; Parkes, ʻIntroductionʼ, Heidegger and Asian Thought, p. 4

10. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 38; Charles WeiHsun Fu, ʻCreative Hermeneutics: Taoist Metaphysics and Heideggerʼ, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 3, 1976, p. 136.

11. ^ See, for example, Elisabeth Feist Hirsch, ʻMartin Heidegger and the Eastʼ, Philosophy East and West 20, 1970, p. 254.

12. ^ See, for example, Parkes, ʻRising Sun over Black Forestʼ, pp. 81–7.

13. ^ See, for example, Tetsuaki Kotoh, ʻLanguage and Silence: Self-Inquiry in Heidegger and Zenʼ, in Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought.

14. ^ Martin Buber, Reden und Gleichnisse des Tschuang-Tse, Leipzig, 1910. See Parkes, ʻThoughts on the Way: Being and Time via Lao-Chuangʼ, in Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought, p. 138, n. 4; May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 43.

15. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 4.

16. ^ Feist Hirsch, ʻMartin Heidegger and the Eastʼ, p. 247.

17. ^ Ibid., p. 263.

18. ^ Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, Volume II: History of Scientific Thought, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1969, pp. 37–8.

19. ^ Hajime Nakamura, Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India – China – Tibet – Japan, revised edition by Philip P. Weiner, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1964, pp. 186, 187, 532, 533–5. The editorʼs Preface (p. xi) quotes ʻrenowned sinologueʼ Professor P. Demiéville on Nakamuraʼs work: ʻI was particularly struck by the part on Japan which occupies nearly half of the work, for it constitutes a national self-criticism, wholesome and sharp, such as you would not have thought written by a Japanese.ʼ Demiéville is clearly pleased – if a little taken aback – at Nakamuraʼs mastery of the ideology and vocabulary of the sinology and Japanology of the period.

20. ^ Needham, Science and Civilization in China, Volume II, p. 199.

21. ^ Parkes, ʻThoughts on the Wayʼ, p. 107. See also Stambaugh, ʻHeidegger, Taoism, and the Question of Metaphysicsʼ, in Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought, p. 88.

22. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 56.

23. ^ Ibid., pp. 4, 51.

24. ^ Ibid., p. 30.

25. ^ Ibid., p. 56. The quotation from Heidegger can be found (in a slightly different translation) in Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, Blackwell, Oxford, 1962, p. 272; Sein und Zeit, Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen, 1993, p. 229.

26. ^ Martin Heidegger, ʻAus einem Gespräch von der Sprache – Zwischen einem Japaner und einem Fragendenʼ, Unterwegs zur Sprache, Pfullingen, 1959; ʻA Dialogue on Language: Between a Japanese and an Inquirerʼ, trans.

Peter D. Hertz, in On the Way to Language, Harper & Row, New York, 1982, p. 199. Tezukaʼs own account of his meeting with Heidegger, ʻAn Hour with Heideggerʼ, in May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, confirms the fictional status of the dialogue.

27. ^ David E. Mungello, ʻMalebranche and Chinese Philosophyʼ, in Julia Ching and Willard G. Oxtoby, eds, Discovering China: European Interpretations in the Enlightenment, University of Rochester Press, Rochester NY, 1992, p. 67.

28. ^ See, for example, Heidegger, ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ, pp. 3–5.

29. ^ Michael Heim, ʻA Philosophy of Comparison: Heidegger and Lao Tzuʼ, Journal of Chinese Philosophy 11, 1984, pp. 307, 309, 310, 316, 319.

30. ^ Heidegger, ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ, p. 19.

31. ^ Concerning the line (crossing Being) see Martin Heidegger, ʻOn the Question of Beingʼ, trans. William McNeill, in Heidegger, Pathmarks, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998. Heidegger uses Seyn in his Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main, 1989. The English translation by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly (Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning), Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 1999) translates Seyn as ʻbe-ingʼ.

32. ^ See Otto Pöggeler, ʻWest–East Dialogue: Heidegger and Lao-tzuʼ, in Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought, pp. 58–9. Parkes acknowledges the problem in a general way in ʻAfterwords – Languageʼ, in Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought, especially pp. 215–16.

33. ^ See, for example, Robert E. Allison (ed.), Understanding the Chinese Mind: The Philosophical Roots, Oxford University Press, Oxford and Hong Kong, 1989.

34. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics, VII 1028a, trans. Hugh Tredennick, Loeb Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1933, p. 311.

35. ^ A.C. Graham, ʻ“Being” in Western Philosophy Compared with Shih/Fei and Yu/Wu in Chinese Philosophyʼ, Studies in Chinese Philosophy and Philosophical Literature, State University of New York Press, Albany NY, 1990, p. 323.

36. ^ A.C. Graham, Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Arguments in Ancient China, Open Court, LaSalle IL, 1989, Appendix 2, ʻThe Relation of Chinese Thought to the Chinese Languageʼ, p. 413; see also p. 414. For a critique of Grahamʼs general approach to this question, see Robert Wardy, Aristotle in China: Language, Categories and Translation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000, p. 3. In Translation and Subjectivity (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis and London, 1997, p. 86) Naoki Sakai discusses Watsuji Tetsuroʼs treatment of the same issue in Japanese: Watsuji ʻpoints out the difference between the term sonzai (being), an equivalent of ningen, and German Sein, so as to exemplify the grammatical limitation of European languages that Western ontology has taken for granted.ʼ

37. ^ A.C. Graham, ʻConceptual Schemes and Linguistic Relativism in Relation to Chineseʼ, Unreason Within Reason: Essays on the Outskirts of Rationality, Open Court, LaSalle IL, 1992, p. 78.

38. ^ ʻIn symbolic logic the verb “to be” dissolves into the sign of existence (∃), which is not a predicate but a quantifier, and three separate copulae, the signs of identity (=), class membership (∈) and class inclusion ( ).ʼ Graham, ʻBeing in Linguistics and Philosophyʼ, in Unreason Within Reason, p. 93.

39. ^ Graham, Disputers of the Tao, p. 408. In this book Graham addresses the issue of the allegedly unphilosophical nature of Chinese philosophy directly. On ʻBeingʼ in Indo-European languages and philosophy, see also ʻConceptual Schemes and Linguistic Relativism in Relation to Chineseʼ, p. 87.

40. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 26.

41. ^ Feist Hirsch, ʻMartin Heidegger and the Eastʼ, p. 250.

42. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. xviii.

43. ^ To be found, according to Parkes (in May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, n. a, p. 65) in Heideggerʼs ʻWinkeʼ, Gesamtausgabe, Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main, Volume 13, p. 33.

44. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 53. See also Parkes, ʻIntroductionʼ, in Parkes, ed., Heidegger and Asian Thought, p. 7.

45. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 45. Mayʼs chapter 5 is titled ʻA Kind of Confessionʼ.

46. ^ Ibid., p. 57.

47. ^ Parkes, ʻTranslatorʼs Prefaceʼ, in May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, pp. viii, x.

48. ^ Cited by Parkes, ibid., p. x.

49. ^ Ibid., p. ix.

50. ^ ʻ“Only a God Can Save Us”ʼ, trans. Maria P. Alter and John D. Caputo, in Richard Wolin, ed., The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1993, p. 113, my emphasis. See also Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Ralph Manheim, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987, especially pp. 37–9.

51. ^ May, Heideggerʼs Hidden Sources, p. 53. Parkes quotes from the letter in ʻRising Sun over Black Forestʼ, in ibid., pp. 101–2.

52. ^ Robert Bernasconi, ʻWill the Real Kant Please Stand Up:

The Challenge of Enlightenment Racism to the Study of the History of Philosophyʼ, Radical Philosophy 117, January/February 2003. See also Joseph McCarney, ʻHegelʼs Racism? A Response to Bernasconiʼ, and Bernasconi, ʻHegelʼs Racism: A Reply to McCarneyʼ, both in Radical Philosophy 119, May/June 2003.

53. ^ Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Truth, trans. Ted Sadler, Continuum, London, 2002, pp. 87–8.

54. ^ Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Human Freedom, trans. Ted Sadler, Continuum, London, 2002, p. 52.

55. ^ Martin Heidegger, ʻThe Nature of Languageʼ, in On the Way to Language, p. 57.

56. ^ Heidegger, ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ, pp. 3, 23, 5.

57. ^ Martin Heidegger, ʻThe Origin of the Work of Artʼ, trans. Albert Hofstadter, in Heidegger, Basic Writings, p. 166.

58. ^ Martin Heidegger, ʻThe End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinkingʼ, trans. Joan Stambaugh, in Heidegger, Basic Writings, p. 448.

59. ^ Heidegger, The Essence of Human Freedom, p. 58.

60. ^ See, for example, ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ, p. 15; ʻOn Time and Beingʼ, p. 59.

61. ^ Heidegger, ʻ“Only a God Can Save Us”ʼ, p. 113. See also Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, p. 57.

62. ^ Ibid.; Heidegger, The Essence of Human Freedom, pp. 35–6.

63. ^ See, for example, Stambaugh, ʻHeidegger, Taoism, ⊃and the Question of Metaphysicsʼ, p. 90: ʻthe tao has been described … as “the rhythm of the space–time structure,” as “an uncircumscribed power ruling the totality of perceptible givens, itself remaining accessible to any specific actualization.” This is not exactly Heideggerʼs language, but surely the true spirit of his thought.ʼ Stambaugh is quoting from Marcel Granet, La Pensée chinoise, La Renaissance du Livre, Paris, 1934.

Similarly, Feist Hirsch: ʻAlthough there are wide areas of disagreement between Samkara [a Hindu philosopher of the eighth and ninth centuries, Christian calendar], it is surprising to note that they share some basic thoughtsʼ (ʻMartin Heidegger and the Eastʼ, p. 256).

64. ^ Despite a critique of ethnocentrism, this conception of ʻWestern metaphysicsʼ and its basis in ʻGreek conceptualityʼ is particularly marked in Jacques Derridaʼs Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,

Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London, 1997; it is also fundamental to Emmanuel Levinasʼs Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, trans. Alphonso Lingis, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh, 1969.

65. ^ Robert Bernasconi, ʻPhilosophyʼs Paradoxical Paro-chialismʼ, in Keith Ansell Pearson, Benita Parry and Judith Squires, eds, Cultural Readings of Imperialism: Edward Said and the Gravity of History, Lawrence & Wishart,

London, 1997, especially p. 221.

66. ^ On tradition and repetition see, for example, Being and Time, §74, pp. 434–439; Robert Bernasconi, ʻHeidegger and the Invention of the Western Philosophical Traditionʼ, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, vol. 26, no. 3, October 1995; Robert Bernasconi, ʻOn Heideggerʼs Other Sins of Omission: His Exclusion of Asian Thought from the Origins of Occidental Metaphysics and His Denial of the Possibility of Christian Philosophyʼ, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 69, no. 2; Stella Sandford, ʻHow the West Was One: Heidegger and the Greek Origin of Continental Philosophyʼ, in John Sellars, ed., Ancient and Continental Philosophy, forthcoming.

67. ^ See, for example, ʻA Dialogue on Languageʼ, p. 37, in which the ʻJapaneseʼ says: ʻProfessor Tanabe often came back to a question you once put to him: why it was that we Japanese did not call back to mind the venerable beginnings of our own thinking, instead of chasing ever more greedily after the latest news in European philosophy.ʼ

68. ^ See Harry Harootunian, Historyʼs Disquiet: Modernity, Cultural Practice, and the Question of Everyday Life, Columbia University Press, New York, 2000, p. 41.

Chung-Ying Cheng and Nicholas Bunnin, eds, Contemporary Chinese Philosophy, Blackwell, Oxford, 2002, is part of the effort to address Western ignorance of contemporary Chinese philosophy.

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