Atman in Advaita Vedanta: Variations on a theme from the

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AGARWAL, Nishkam Sandesh (Author and Freelance Researcher)
Finding a Place for Atman in Advaita Vedanta: Variations on a theme from the Principal Upanishads


Traditional interpretations of Atman in Advaita Vedanta firmly position it as Conditioned Brahman which is “associated” with a human being.  For example, Swami Adiswarananda (The Vedanta Way to Peace and Happiness) says this succinctly when referring to the jivatman, and the Mundaka Upanishad refers to Atman as one of the “indwelling” souls by reference to the metaphor of the two birds sitting on a tree. 

One of the mahavakyas from the Chhandogya Upanishad, Tat tvam asi, then reconnects the Atman with Brahman.  In this mahavakya, the Atman is the subject and Brahman (Object) is part of the predicate.  The Isha Upanishad, via Soham asmi, is technically identical with this subject-predicate delineation: aham (Atman) is subject, and saha (Brahman) is part of the predicate.  Similarly, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says:  Ayam atma Brahma, another mahavakya which also is generally interpreted (e.g., by Shankara) as having the same order of subject (atma) and predicate (namely, Brahman, the object). 
In this paper, I propose an alternative syntactic re-write of the mahavakya (tat tvam asi and its equivalents), by reversing the subject and object (which is part of the predicate).  If the Atman is transposed into the predicate, andBrahman is classified as Subject, then the mahavakya, and its variants are radically changed in meaning and implication.  In particular, in this new scheme, the place for Atman in the hierarchy Brahman-Atman-mind/body becomes questionable since it obviates the need to “reconnect” the Conditioned Brahman (or Atman) with Brahman.  One of the profound implications of this re-write is that the concept of reincarnation of Atman becomes more difficult to interpret.
AKINA, Keli’i (Hawaii Pacific University)
The Hawaiian Sense of Place as Focus and Field


The Hawaiian sense of place is pervasive in ancient Hawaiian oral literature and in all cultural expressions.  For traditional Hawaiians, the sense of place determines individual identity and self-esteem. The most ancient of chants, the Kumulipo, locates individuals within the context of infinite cosmology and limited geography through the expanse of time recorded as genealogy. Hawaiian notions of place are rich and range from the broad concept of the universe to the narrow concept of personal geography and proxemics.  


Oral literature about the Hawaiian sense of place is replete with dualisms for location such as Earth (ʻĀina) and Heaven (Lani), Moon and Sun, near and far, and intimate and distant, as it describes human "being."  Yet, the same oral literature also references processes and continuities between seemingly discrete entities and events as it describes human "becoming."  Is the Hawaiian sense of place substance-oriented and dualistic or is it process-oriented and non-dualistic?  


This paper will demonstrate the usefulness of the notions of focus (de) and field (dao), developed from Confucian thought, for a philosophical description of the Hawaiian sense of place as it applies to human identity, self-esteem, and relationship both to places and persons.  

ALBERTINI, Tamara (University of Hawai’i)
Places of Exile and the Diasporic Self: Forced Exile, Self-imposed Exile, and Exile in One’s Mind”


Rather than living in a place, diasporic selves discover that “places” live in them. These could be ancestral lands, native landscapes, sacred sites, a family home, or merely the memory of a door, porch, or well. “Places” of diasporic selves do not even have to relate to a physical location. A poet like Dante thus described the Paradise and Hell he “visited” in his mind. In the Islamic world, Sufis “traveled” in their minds and made the outermost cosmic spheres their true abodes.

This paper explores the “life” places take on in diasporic persons and how they are used to recreate a space lost, inaccessible, or otherwise irretrievable. Another focus is an exploration of how places - physical, remembered, poetical, mystical, or longed for - inform one’s imagination, thoughts, and language, especially one’s metaphors.

ALFONSO, Russell (Hawai’i Pacific University)
Intimacy, Place and Music
This paper explores the intersection between intimacy, place and music. In the first section I distill some of the main features of place as it is distinguished from space in the writings of Yi-Fu Tuan. Then I turn to the concept of intimacy drawing from two primary sources: Peter Hershock’s Liberating Intimacy and Thomas Kasulis’ Intimacy and Integrity. The examples I wish to focus on are musical; I wish to illuminate the idea that sounds can be used to create a musical place that is especially charged with intimacy, intimacy understood as a felt sense of connection, a sense of meaning and belonging.
Generally speaking there is a difference between scored-rehearsed musical performance and improvised musical performance. I would argue here, that there is something distinctive about an improvised musical place. Improvised musical places are at once intimate in Hershock’s sense, liberating in Tuan’s sense that “spaciousness is closely associated with the sense of being free, and epistemically articulated in Kasulis’ sense of knowing how and when to act with the qualities of a virtuoso.
ALLIK, Alari (Tallinn University, Estonia)
Same Place, New Locations: Mobile Home and Nomadic Lifestyle of Kamo no Chōmei”
In East Asian cultures travelling to various places, which serve as sites for geognostic insight into the true nature of reality, has always been a very important cultural practice. The temporary lodgings used by travellers were often put together from grass and tree branches and were valued over luxurious homes in the capital as true dwelling places for sensitive people. The Chinese poet Bai Juyi (772-846) has said in his famous four-line poem dedicated to the local landowner Mu: ever the most splendid sites / lack a permanent owner. During the subsequent centuries many writers subscribed to this idea: the wandering poet or a monk has privileged access to “splendid sites”, since these are only truly available for those who have renounced ordinary sense of ownership.
In this presentation I will take a look at the mobile home constructed by Buddhist writer Kamo no Chōmei (1153-1216) and argue, that the ambition of a poet-recluse such as him was not so much to move around, but to stay in the same place despite of the constantly changing circumstances. During an age defined by impermanence (mujō) the mobile home becomes in his description the only site of permanence since it adapts to the unpredictable ebbs and flows of the environment. In order to stay in the place where the environment supports meditating, playing music and writing poetry one had to sometimes change location. This kind of adjustment of location typical of nomadic lifestyle is very different from the migration of those on religious pilgrimages. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari have said in “A Thousand Plateus”: “The migrant goes principally from one point to another, even if the second point is uncertain, unforeseen, or not well localized. But the nomad goes from point to point only as a consequence and as a factual necessity.” (Deleuze and Guattari 1990:380). I will argue that Kamo no Chōmei does not live in a hut of a travelling monk, but rather in mobile home of a poet-recluse who does not want move, but often finds that he has to. Comparing Kamo no Chōmei’s ideas with Western theories on nomadism and mobility I will attempt to outline the philosophy of place inherent in his writings.
ANGLE, Stephen C. (Wesleyan University)
Where and What is tian in Neo-Confucianism?
Traditionally translated as “Heaven,” tian 天, which I will translate as “cosmos” and “cosmic," plays multiple roles within Neo-Confucian thinking, helping to signal both the all-inclusive ambition of Neo-Confucian theory and also the pervasively value-laden nature of space and place in the Neo-Confucian vision. This paper explores the tensions created by tian's simultaneous invocation of horizontal inclusiveness and vertical hierarchy, as well as examining some of the ways in which tian frames the Neo-Confucians’ religious, political, and ecological perspectives.
ASHTON, Geoff (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs)
ṁkhya and the Architecture of Devotion in the Bhagavad Gītā: Liberation through Re-Imagining Place as the Body of Krishna

Place is a problem for the non-theistic philosophers of classical Sākhya—for insofar as place manifests, we are em-placed and hence endure suffering (dukha). Accordingly, the Sākhya Kārikā employs metaphysical analysis (as directed toward various tattvas or ontological principles) in order to realize the total dis-placement or isolation (kaivalya) of the true self from place as such (prakti). However, various texts exhibiting “proto-sākhya” motifs, ideas, and methods of analysis orient the individual to place differently. Among these is the Bhagavad Gītā, a text that situates sākhya analysis within the yoga of devotion (bhakti) to Krishna.

Focusing upon the chapters surrounding the theophany, this paper argues that the Gītā employs characteristically sākhya metaphysical analysis in order to map out the architecture of place (prakti). Further, it does so at times in order to dissociate Arjuna from the horrors of the place that he occupies—namely, the duty to initiate a civil war. Unlike the historically later Sākhya Kārikā, however, the Gītā situates sākhya doctrine within a theistic metaphysics and a concern to both re-posses his place in the dharmic order and affirm the battlefield as a manifestation of the cosmic body of Krishna. By re-imagining place as the body of Krishna, Arjuna learns to not simply bear his dharma, but find liberation through embracing his place in the dharmic order in full awareness that his “yes-saying pathos” will not modify his fate.
AXTELL, Guy (Radford University)
Moral Learning, Imagination, and the Space of Humor
The functions of humor and laughter in the Taoist and Confucian classics has been a topic of some discussion (Froese; Glavany; Harbsmeier; Olberding). Froese (2013, 2014) for example treats the space of humor as opening a plethora of perspectives/possibilities and, especially in the Zhuangzi, revealing the possibilities but also the limitations of language. These studies of the function of humor are briefly surveyed in this paper, but then pushed in a number of directions, both theoretical and practical.
Firstly, on a theoretical level, the space of humor is developed together with the importance of the imagination for moral development in James and Dewey’s thought, and with the manner in which emotions are “ripe for narrativity” in the thought of contemporary enactivists like Daniel Hutto. Secondly, theoretical resources derived from this discussion are used to address concerns that Olberding examines in Moral Exemplars in the Analects: The Good Person is That (2011).
Our approach supports certain aspects of Olberding’s exemplarist virtue ethics, while adding correctives and insights on the persistent worries that exemplarism favors imagination over reasoning, and guidance over moral theory (Tan Sor-hoon). Finally, the pedagogical value of humor in transmitting ancient traditions of moral wisdom to today’s young audiences is highlighted through the work of Taiwanese cartoon artist Tsai Chih Chung, a vital figure in moral education in many Chinese-speaking schools, but whose work remains little-known in the West.
AYYAGARI, Shalini (University of Pittsburgh)
Dancing in the Desert: Womens Bodies and Gender Representations in Contemporary Hindi Cinema​”
In this paper, I aim to tease out the complicated representations of place and the female body in contemporary Hindi cinema by examining intersections of a Rajasthani landscape and the portrayal of Rajasthani women in song sequences from two Bollywood films, Paheli (2005) and Dor (2006). Images and sounds of a distinctly regional Rajasthan in northwestern India are often mobilized in contemporary Hindi cinema to create a timeless, traditional, and heritage-laden backdrop for filmgoers to imagine an inclusive Indian national identity.
At the same time, Hindi cinema often reinforces gender and cultural norms, creating comfortable and universal categories of comprehensibility through which contemporary Indian women have come to be understood. In this paper, I zero in on the filmspromises to be voices of social change in India, bringing such important womens issues to light. I suggest that the use of Rajasthan as regional landscape creates a liminal frontier. As gender violence continues to plague contemporary India, it is only in fantastical song sequences, not in the real world of everyday life, in which such transgressions of gender and societal norms could possibly take place.

BABA, Eiho (Furman University)

In Search of Appropriateness through Experience: Gewu and the Place to Conduct Gongfu as Transactional Events”

This paper examines the relationship between gewu 格物 and the “place to conduct gongfu” (zuo gongfu chu 做工夫處) in Zhu Xi’s philosophy. I contend that gewu is a method of gongfu that is conducted on the “place” (chu 處) of transactional thing-events (shiwu 事物). I begin with wu 物 and show that they are not discrete “things,” but situated affairs of ordinary events (shi 事) that implicate our involvement or transactions (yingjie 應接) with them. I situate my discussion in the context of process metaphysics adopted from the Appended Remarks of the Book of Changes and the Han cosmology of Huntianshuo 渾天 說 appropriated by Zhu Xi to highlight the importance of co-creativity in his construal of these transactional events. He states that “people often assume that daoli is an abstract (xuankong 懸空) thing. The Great Learning does not say ‘qiongli 窮理,’ but only says ‘gewu,’ because it wants us to comprehend through thing-events (shiwu); only in this way, can we see what is concrete (shiti 實體).”
Zhu Xi further defines “格” (ge) of gewu as “to reach” (zhi 至) and explains that “it is to actually go to the place (di 地)” where events unfold (Zhuzi quanshu 14: 469). I maintain that realization (zhi 知) through gewu is not an “abstract,” but a “concrete” understanding embodied or incorporated (ti 體) through cumulative practice (jixi 積習) and repeated applications (shixi 時習) of Confucian learning on or through transactional events as the “place” of gongfu. Zhu Xi also writes that “the heart-mind of the sages... can respond broadly with thorough appropriateness where each and every application is not the same (butong 不同)” (Zhuzi quanshu 6: 96).
I shall argue that gewu is a method of gongfu that works to realize appropriateness of our transactions with thing-events through concrete experience (tiyan 體驗) at the “place to conduct gongfu.” It aims to cultivate oneself (xiuesheng 修身) to become virtuosic in making ritual proprieties appropriate and acting with appropriated ritual proprieties in response to ever- changing circumstances as co-creators who “assist (zan 贊) in the transforming and nourishing activities of heaven and earth” (Zhongyong 22).
BAGGINI, Julian (Writer, UK)
Dreams of Utopia On The Absence of Place
Philosophy is caught in a perennial tension. Although it rightly aspires to universal truth, to transcend the particularities of the individual thinker and her time and place, it can only be done by specific individuals in specific times and places. Indeed, philosophy is more defined by these localities than many other disciplines: we study particular works by particular thinkers and group them according to historical era and geographical location.
Modern Western philosophy has largely dealt with this tension by ignoring it. Courses in seventeenth century rationalism, for example, tend to pay scant attention to the historical or biographical background. The implicit assumption is that to do timeless, universal philosophy you must think as little as possible about the time and place in which it is done.

The irony is that this mode of philosophising results in work that is even more parochial than it would otherwise be, with schools of thought identified with and largely confined to specific institutions, such as Oxford or Cambridge. The result is a mode of philosophising that fails to join-up with the “great conversation” of humanity. This is also reflected in the sociology of Anglophone philosophy, which shows that its practitioners are relatively uninterested in other global traditions and do not participate fully in gatherings such as the World Congress of Philosophy.

This paper will argue that to achieve greater universality requires giving due attention to the localities of thought. The theoretical part of the argument focuses on the argument that objectivity requires exploring a plurality of perspectives and that this does not inevitably lead to a kind of relativism or pluralism. A comparison is made with feminist philosophy. Sceptics believed that feminist philosophy challenged the universal aspiration of philosophy and so should be ignored, since there could be no such thing as male or female truths. In fact, we have found that the best feminist philosophy reveals the blind spots of philosophy as a whole, and hence helps it free itself from its patriarchal and parochial assumptions. In the same way, it is only by attending to the locationality of thought that we can see just how far our own locatedness limits our intellectual horizons.
I then take as a specific example the debate about free will. I will argue that in Anglophone philosophy, this debate is a demonstrably local one, and that the central concept in dispute is not shared either historically nor globally today. For instance, the contemporary concept of free will is not found in either Buddhist or Ancient Greek philosophy. Furthermore, the assumption that we are only responsible for actions over which we have control is not found to hold in many cultures around the world.
It is only by understanding why the notion of free will they debate is not universal that Anglophone philosophers can take the insights they have gained so as to contribute to a more universal understanding of human freedom and its limits. Only by appreciating the contingencies of place can philosophy hope to reach truths that transcend it.
BAILEY, Terrance (The University of West Indies, Jamaica)
Bewaji’s Critique of MillsRacial Contract Theory: A Challenge of its Structure, Content, and Conclusions


In this paper, I examine John Ayotunde (Tunde) Isola Bewajis discussion of Charles W. Mills, racial contract theory. Bewaji critiques the theorys structure, content, and conclusions. He argues against its structure by advocating for an epistemological understanding, instead of a historical racial contractarian perception of it. Bewaji contends with the theorys content by emphasizing how racial distinctions naturally occur, against Millsclaim that they politically take place in Western society from antiquity to modernity. Finally, he challenges Millsidealist racial contract theory conclusions, by asserting his realist position on them.
BAINDUR, Meera (Manipal University, India)
Accommodation, Location, and Context: Conceptualization of Place in Indian Traditions of Thought
A human being incorporates within her/his lived experiences ideas of place and location creating what Casey (2001) refers to as a “geographical self.” How does a concept of place feature in Indian traditions of thought? A number of equivalent terms that refer to place or location are to be found in premodern texts. The terms for places are not only used geographically but in a general locative sense, they define the self or identity. References to a soul ‘within a body’ or an embodied experience of the subtle matter within the gross, are prevalent in many early texts like the Upaniṣads. Some of those terms are sthala, sthāna, deśa, loka (in Sanskrit) and Nilam (in Tamil).

The term sthala refers to an accommodative place or a surface, closer in meaning to the simple concept of ‘place’ in English. In contrast the term sthāna refers to designated or appropriate place. Displacement in this sense of place extends beyond the notion of a physical dislocation to that can be differently imagined through notions of sthāna. One could be excluded from certain places because one may not be eligible to occupy that place. Deśa, which is loosely a political-geographical term, is somewhat closer in meaning to the Tamil world Nilam. In contrast with location based descriptions these worlds are used in conjunction with time kāla (in Sanskrit) or neram/ kālam (in Tamil). The deśa-kāla, is also used to signify context, background, causal explanations and many other conceptualizations. The deep connection between time and place is well documented in place studies. For instance Tuan (1977, p. 187) claims that “Objects anchor time.” Do then placements of certain object serve to mark time in various ways? Traditional architectures in India and elsewhere seem to pay attention to landscape and placement as well as seasons and other time cycles.

We already see that there are many layers of words for place in these texts. In this paper, firstly I intend to unpack the various conceptualizations of place in Indian traditions of thought. The finer distinctions of these terms and the way they are used to refer to different ideas of place would provide one with a richer layered semantic world of ideas within these traditions. Following this, I would then argue how the “where” given by these place-signifying terms not only constructs locations and situatedeness of beings but also influences relations and identities of these “whats” and “whos.” These locations and identities corresponding to them create a deeper understanding of intra-relations between beings and their life world. This understanding is of significance as, the traditional practices of communities continue to foster location-based identities that influence social relations and ethical norms in the subcontinent. A few concrete illustrations of these relations such as those of caste and gender hierarchies in India, human non-human relations would derive from the understanding of sthala, sthāna, and loka.
On the other hand the placement of rooms in a traditional home and in notions of directional/ geographical identities of people will substantiate the understandings of deśa-kala and its conceptual role in inclusions and exclusions. The paper will hope to introduce and clarify these concepts around place in Indian thought while providing a connection between these premodern ideas and practices and norms in contemporary times in India.
BAKER, Timothy D. (National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan)
The Emplacement of Chinese Tradition into a Christian Context: Ancestral Shrines in Taiwanese Christian Homes and Churches
This paper considers how reverence and offerings to the family ancestors, one of the signal aspects of Chinese culture in both philosophy and popular thought, have been absorbed into and transmuted in different ways by Christian practices - and how these new practices act to personalize places in ways different from traditional Chinese offerings. Taiwan has a well-established and diverse Christian population that has grown steadily since the end of World War II, comprising Catholics, most of the Protestant branches and a number of independent churches. Although the issue of offerings to ancestors was a critical point in the Rites Controversy during the early Qing, at which time these offerings were forbidden by the Catholic Church, with the resurgence and indigenization of Christianity in Taiwan, shrines to the ancestors are part of many Catholic churches and homes. In addition, since the 1990’s Protestants have developed an interest in and body of literature on this issue, and are exploring ways to instantiate it.
There are several issues to be considered here. On one hand, the Christian Chinese understandings or theology about the persistence of ancestors differ distinctly from the traditional Chinese understandings; although at the same time they have been, and are being, influenced by those traditional views. On the other hand, there is the issue of how these practices sacralize domestic places and domesticate sacred places. Thus, the home place is connected to a larger matrix of belief, while the place of the church is linked to the family, which is rooted in the home. Traditional ancestral offerings at home can, of course, be related to Buddhist or Daoist practices and they can also be made at temples. But the point of difference is in the way in which the places of Christian offerings are more effectively tied into a community of belief. As a result, these offerings link family genealogy to the physical place of the home or church and at the same time to a non-corporeal “place” of belief. Within this expanded concept of place, attitudes and practices related to the physical place of the ancestors – their graves – have also been altered by Christian beliefs, revising the place-triad of private/home, public/church and public-private/tomb.
Note: This paper is part of a series, beginning with a paper in March for the National Zhengzhi University conference「移動的空間──生活世界與人文科學」. That paper will focus on the differing roles of family members - husbands, wives and children - in Christian and traditional ancestral offerings, on which ancestors are included in the offerings, and on the contrast between ritualized actions and spontaneous actions. The third part will be a paper in August for a panel at the St. Peterburg Biannual Conference of the European Association of Chinese Studies on the ways in which Chinese traditional views have affected Chinese Christian concepts of ghosts or spirits.
BANKA, Rafal (Jagiellonian University, Poland)
Confucian Meditations: Localising the Philosophising Mind

Most philosophers agree in that the ideas they convey possess objective, or at least, intersubjective status. The strength of the conviction is based on the assumption that a philosophising subject is located in the most neutral, culturally insensitive place, where a quasi-God’s-eye perspective can be assumed and universal judgements can be passed. One of the most famous exemplifications can be found in Meditations on First Philosophy, where the ‘perfect vacuum’ of suspended reality enables Descartes to answer most fundamental questions. This metaphilosophical condition can be challenged by an alternative offered by Confucianism, where the subject is specifically located in a multiple-level context and presents a holistic (not universal) perspective. In my paper, I argue for the Confucian localised-concrete subject as a legitimate departure point of philosophical investigations. My main argument consists in showing that the subject contextualisation is an indispensable propensity in cognitive processes. I construct it by referring to enactivism, which concurrently provides a linkage to viewing the Confucian conception of subject from the perspective of empirical sciences.

BANNON, Bryan E. (Merrimack College)
Being a Friend to Places
When considering the human relationship to nature, much has been made of the attachment that individuals experience toward specific places. For this reason, environmentalists have discussed the concept of place as a particularly fruitful one for developing a relationship to the more than human world. However, the relationship between individuals and those places has been left somewhat undefined. Deep Ecologists, for example, argue in favor of assimilating the relations of a place into one’s larger “Self,” thereby extending one’s care for one’s “self” to the place itself (e.g., Fox 1990). Bioregionalists, meanwhile, look to places as imposing limits and structure to the form of human life that takes place within them (e.g., Thayer 2003). In both cases (and others), there is a certain givenness to place: the relations to place are viewed as determinative of a particular identity and ethos. The place constitutes the person. On more humanistic views, the embodied or thinking subject constitutes places around it by instilling the environing world with meaning (Casey 1993, Tuan 1972). In this paper, I explore an alternative to this vision of the place to self relation in which the relation is modeled on friendship rather than on the process of constitution.
The limitations of the constitution model have been explored by Val Plumwood in her book Environmental Culture (2001), arguing in its place for a self-in-relation model. For this model to work in the context of place, there has to be a meaningful and (to some extent) intentional world around us prior to the presence of human beings. Concurrently, friendship has been criticized as a framework for the human relationship to nature because nature is presumed to lack these meaningful and intentional structures (Freiman 2009, Sandler 2007). Taking up and developing Plumwood’s self-in-relation model, I intend to argue that once a place’s agency is no longer backgrounded and dependencies upon our places are no longer denied, it will be possible to engage with places as already meaningful and historical systems of relations in a way that resembles friendship.
Friendships consist in a number of qualities beyond what I will discuss in the paper, but here I intend to focus on the reciprocity and self-formation dimensions of friendship. I do so in order to highlight the mutual formation of place and self that occurs in the interaction of the living being with its environment, but also to argue in favor of a particular normative stance toward that process. Friendship is laden with values and such relationships possess inherent norms that can help us make sense of which relations to place might be more or less ecologically healthy.
BARDWELL-JONES, Celia (University of Hawai`i—Hilo)
De-colonial Perspectives of Land and Home: Yearning and a Sense of Place Within Native Hawaiian and Filipino Identities
Though there are marked differences between the experiences of Native Hawaiians and Filipinos in Hawai`i, these identities do overlap one another. First, both Native Hawaiians and Filipino Americans have a shared history of colonization in their places of origin, either in Hawai`i or in the Philippines. Second, both groups were denied a place of belonging within the US national narrative of citizenship. Filipino Americans were allowed into the country as nationals, but not as citizens. Native Hawaiians were forcefully included as wards of the state. Third – and what I would like to focus in this presentation – both held specific strategies for decolonization and the creation of counter hegemonic narratives. Both I argue utilize a sense of place to reassert their specific group’s cultural identity and self-determination. Both invoke a sense of place that on the one hand has been taken away from them because of US colonial practices, and on the other hand a sense of place is what recovers their agency and subjectivity. I aim to examine Trask’s notion of land and Espiritu’s notion of home and how these narratives of belonging offer a sense of place, which can resist the settler colonial logic prevalent in Hawai`i.
BEHUNIAK, Jim (Colby College)
Deweys Place with Respect to Comparative Philosophy
In at least one respect, John Dewey occupies a special place in the history of comparative philosophy. In 1951, his words were the first to appear in the journal Philosophy East and West. There, he made a bold statement with regard to the geographical assumptions of comparative philosophy, claiming that the journal should “help break down the notion that there is such a thing as a ‘West’ and ‘East’” that stand to be considered. Dewey’s comments can now be understood in light of his once misplaced, but now reconstructed manuscript, UnModern Philosophy and Modern Philosophy. Here, in 1947, Dewey prepared the way for his famous shift from “experience” to “culture.” Better understanding this shift can help us to appreciate the meaning behind his 1951 comments. Dewey’s thinking had evolved in such a way as to consider philosophy itself a “genetic-functional” activity, one that was ineradicably located in its own social-cultural-geographical situation. From this vantage point, Dewey challenged the idea that one could or should regard “cultures” objectively from vantage points that were not already so situated, e.g. setting out to approach the “Greek” and “Chinese” traditions from some neutral place free from any cultural bias. In addition to shedding light on his 1951 comments, Dewey’s thesis in this manuscript presents a contemporary challenge to any form of “comparative philosophy” that would hope to remain unaffected by its own particular place.
BEIN, Steve (University of Dayton)
Being-in-the-World, World-in-the-Being: Finding Ethics in Watsuji Tetsurō’s Socio-environmental Ontology
Watsuji Tetsurō provides an elegant foundation for understanding environmental ethics but offers very little in the way of concrete guidance. His articulation of ningen 人間 embedded in fūdo 風土 is as elegant a model as one could ask for in framing humanity’s relationship to the natural world, but it is only that: a model, which by itself offers no moral principles. It tells us how we are but says nothing about what we should do.
By contrast, Watsuji has a good deal more to say about the moral balance to be struck by the private and public aspects of ningen’s existence. They exist in perpetual tension—creative at its best, destructive at its worst—and this mutually transformative, mutually endangered relationship can be scaled up to the level of entire cultures and their ecosystems. Employing the semiotics of Algirdas Julien Greimas I argue that from this microcosmic model of ningen sonzai 人間存在 we can extrapolate guiding principles of the moral balancing act to be performed on the macrocosmic scale of ningen in fūdo. Since Watsuji himself has so little to say on the subject, I draw on the work of Aldo Leopold, Michel Serres, and Augustin Berque in fleshing out how best to think of our moral relationship with fūdo given its ontological inescapability.
BEN PAZI, Hanoch (Bar Ilan University, Israel)
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