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Full-Text Articles in Religion

Black Lives, Sacred Humanity, And The Racialization Of Nature, Or Why America Needs Religious Naturalism Today, Carol W. White Jul 2017

Black Lives, Sacred Humanity, And The Racialization Of Nature, Or Why America Needs Religious Naturalism Today, Carol W. White

Faculty Journal Articles

Embedded in persistent representations of people of African descent as inferior beings or subpar humans are problematic notions of animality, race, and nature in the U.S., or a lethal combination of intimately conjoined white supremacy and species supremacy. Confronting these processes is a model of African American religious naturalism, which presupposes human animals’ deep, inextricable homology with each other and with other natural processes. Building on the ideas of Anna J. Cooper, W. E. B. du Bois, and James Baldwin, this model of religious naturalism emphasizes humans as sacred centers of value and distinct movements of nature itself where ...


Immanent Frames: Meiji New Buddhism And The 'Religious Secular', James Shields Jun 2017

Immanent Frames: Meiji New Buddhism And The 'Religious Secular', James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

The secularization thesis, rooted in the idea that “modernity” brings with it the destruction—or, at least, the ruthless privatization—of religion, is clearly grounded in specific, often oversimplified, interpretations of Western historical developments since the eighteenth century. In this article, I use the case of the New Buddhist Fellowship (Shin Bukkyō Dōshikai 新仏教同志会) of the Meiji period (1868–1911) to query the category of the secular in the context of Japanese modernity. I argue that the New Buddhists, drawing on elements of classical and East Asian Buddhism as well as modern Western thought, promoted a resolutely social and this-worldly ...


The Scope And Limits Of Secular Buddhism: Watanabe Kaikyoku (1868–1912) And The Japanese New Buddhist 'Discovery Of Society', James Shields Mar 2017

The Scope And Limits Of Secular Buddhism: Watanabe Kaikyoku (1868–1912) And The Japanese New Buddhist 'Discovery Of Society', James Shields

Faculty Contributions to Books

Although New Buddhism is a term sometimes employed to refer to the broad sweep of reform and modernization movements in Japanese Buddhist thought and practice beginning in the 1870s, the term shin bukkyō refers more specifically to a broadly influential movement of some two dozen young scholars and lay Buddhists active in the last decade of the Meiji period (1868–1912). Founded in February 1899 as Bukkyō Seito Dōshikai (Buddhist Pure Believers Fellowship or Buddhist Puritan Association), the group changed its name to Shin Bukkyō Dōshikai (New Buddhist Fellowship) in 1903. Notto Thelle refers to the NBF as “the most ...


Peasant Revolts As Anti-Authoritarian Archetypes For Radical Buddhism In Modern Japan, James Shields Jun 2016

Peasant Revolts As Anti-Authoritarian Archetypes For Radical Buddhism In Modern Japan, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

The late Meiji period (1868-1912) witnessed the birth of various forms of “progressive” and “radical” Buddhism both within and beyond traditional Japanese Buddhist institutions. This paper examines several historical precedents for “Buddhist revolution” in East Asian—and particularly Japanese—peasant rebellions of the early modern period. I argue that these rebellions, or at least the received narratives of such, provided significant “root paradigms” for the thought and practice of early Buddhist socialists and radical Buddhists of early twentieth century Japan. Even if these narratives ended in “failure”—as, indeed, they often did—they can be understood as examples of what ...


Opium Eaters: Buddhism As Revolutionary Politics, James Shields Apr 2016

Opium Eaters: Buddhism As Revolutionary Politics, James Shields

Faculty Contributions to Books

There is no one, single answer to the question: What is or are ‘Buddhist politics’? Rather than seek general historical trends or broad tendencies, in this chapter I explore the meaning and implications of the modern, Western conception of ‘politics’ as understood in relation to key features of Buddhist doctrine. In particular, I pose the question of whether we might fruitfully conceive at least certain interpretations of Buddhism—or perhaps, of Dharma—as politics, rather than ‘religion’ or ‘philosophy.’ I argue that twentieth century progressive Buddhists Seno’o Girō (1889–1961) and B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956) were not so ...


From Topos To Utopia: Critical Buddhism, Globalization, And Ideology Criticism, James Shields Nov 2014

From Topos To Utopia: Critical Buddhism, Globalization, And Ideology Criticism, James Shields

Faculty Contributions to Books

No abstract provided.


Seno'o Giro: Life And Thought Of A Radical Buddhist, James Shields Jul 2014

Seno'o Giro: Life And Thought Of A Radical Buddhist, James Shields

Faculty Contributions to Books

No abstract provided.


Zen And The Art Of Treason: Radical Buddhism In Meiji Era (1868–1912) Japan, James Shields Mar 2014

Zen And The Art Of Treason: Radical Buddhism In Meiji Era (1868–1912) Japan, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

In the early decades of the twentieth century, as Japanese society became engulfed in war and increasing nationalism, the majority of Buddhist leaders and institutions capitulated to the status quo. At the same time, there was a stream of ‘resistance’ among a few Buddhist figures, both priests and laity. These instances of progressive and ‘radical Buddhism’ had roots in late Edo-period peasant revolts, the lingering discourse of early Meiji period liberalism, trends within Buddhist reform and modernisation and the emergence in the first decade of the twentieth century of radical political thought, including various forms of socialism and anarchism. This ...


Introduction To Against Harmony: Radical Buddhism In Thought And Practice, James Shields Mar 2014

Introduction To Against Harmony: Radical Buddhism In Thought And Practice, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

No abstract provided.


Liberation As Revolutionary Praxis: Rethinking Buddhism Materialism, James Shields Sep 2013

Liberation As Revolutionary Praxis: Rethinking Buddhism Materialism, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

While it is only in recent decades that scholars have begun to reconsider and problematize Buddhist conceptions of “freedom” and “agency,” the thought traditions of Asian Buddhism have for many centuries struggled with questions related to the issue of “liberation”—along with its fundamental ontological, epistemological and ethical implications. With the development of Marxist thought in the mid to late nineteenth century, a new paradigm for thinking about freedom in relation to history, identity and social change found its way to Asia, and confronted traditional religious interpretations of freedom as well as competing Western ones. In the past century, several ...


Zange And Sorge: Two Models Of 'Concern' In Comparative Philosophy Of Religion, James Shields Feb 2013

Zange And Sorge: Two Models Of 'Concern' In Comparative Philosophy Of Religion, James Shields

Faculty Contributions to Books

The concept of Sorge, as developed in Martin Heidegger’s (1889–1976) classic work, Sein und Zeit (1927), describes an existential-ontological state characterized by “anxiety” about the future and the desire to “attend to” the world based on our awareness of temporality. In Japan, this concept was borrowed and critically developed by Watsuji Tetsurō (1889–1960). In Rinrigaku (1937–49), Watsuji argued that Heidegger’s Sorge remains overly reliant on the philosophical structures of Western individualism and subjectivism, and thus neglects the social dimension of human being. In turn, Watsuji’s contemporary, Tanabe Hajime (1885–1962), developed an alternative theory ...


Radical Buddhism, Then And Now: Prospects Of A Paradox, James Shields Dec 2012

Radical Buddhism, Then And Now: Prospects Of A Paradox, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

No abstract provided.


A Blueprint For Buddhist Revolution: The Radical Buddhism Of Seno’O Girō (1889–1961) And The Youth League For Revitalizing Buddhism, James Shields Nov 2012

A Blueprint For Buddhist Revolution: The Radical Buddhism Of Seno’O Girō (1889–1961) And The Youth League For Revitalizing Buddhism, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

In the early decades of the twentieth century, as Japanese society became engulfed in war and increasing nationalism, the majority of Buddhist leaders and institutions capitulated to the status quo. One notable exception to this trend, however, was the Shinkō Bukkyō Seinen Dōmei (Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism), founded on 5 April 1931. Led by Nichiren Buddhist layman Seno’o Girō and made up of young social activists who were critical of capitalism, internationalist in outlook, and committed to a pan-sectarian and humanist form of Buddhism that would work for social justice and world peace, the league’s motto was ...


Smashing The Mirror Of Yamato: Sakaguchi Ango, Decadence & A Postmetaphysical Buddhist Critique Of Culture, James Shields Sep 2011

Smashing The Mirror Of Yamato: Sakaguchi Ango, Decadence & A Postmetaphysical Buddhist Critique Of Culture, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

This article focuses on several key philosophical themes in the criticism of Sakaguchi Ango (1906–1955), one of postwar Japan’s most influential and controversial writers. Associated with the underground Kasutori culture as well as the Burai-ha of Tamura Taijirō (1911–1983), Oda Sakunosuke (1913–1947) and Dazai Osamu (1909–1948), Ango gained fame for two provocative essays on the theme of daraku or “decadence”—Darakuron and Zoku darakuron—pubished in 1946, in the wake of Japan’s traumatic defeat and the beginnings of the Allied Occupation. Less well-known is the fact that Ango spent his student years studying classical ...


The Art Of Aidagara: Ethics, Aesthetics, And The Quest For An Ontology Of Social Existence In Watsuji Tetsurō’S Rinrigaku, James Shields Nov 2009

The Art Of Aidagara: Ethics, Aesthetics, And The Quest For An Ontology Of Social Existence In Watsuji Tetsurō’S Rinrigaku, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

This paper provides an analysis of the key term aidagara (“betweenness”) in the philosophical ethics of Watsuji Tetsurō (1889-1960), in response to and in light of the recent movement in Japanese Buddhist studies known as “Critical Buddhism.” The Critical Buddhist call for a turn away from “topical” or intuitionist thinking and towards (properly Buddhist) “critical” thinking, while problematic in its bipolarity, raises the important issue of the place of “reason” versus “intuition” in Japanese Buddhist ethics. In this paper, a comparison of Watsuji’s “ontological quest” with that of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), Watsuji’s primary Western source and foil, is ...


Faith And The Sublation Of Modernity: Kierkegaard And The Transformation Of Fideism, James Shields Sep 2008

Faith And The Sublation Of Modernity: Kierkegaard And The Transformation Of Fideism, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

This article retraces the “genealogy” of the fideist perspective in philosophy as well as literature, especially within the writings of Søren Kierkegaard and the novel Don Quixote. It contends that a demythologized perspective of the fideist-humanist sort, based upon Erasmian tolerance and intellectual creativity and updated with the insights of post-analytic theory (e.g., the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, Richard Rorty, and Jeffrey Stout), without revoking the vocabulary of transcendence, can reinforce the weathered but still valuable post-Enlightenment moral vocabulary, and can reiterate the humaneness of liberal hope without undue encumbrance from the dogmatic baggage of traditional theological jargon and ...


Eros And Transgression In An Age Of Immanence: Georges Bataille’S (Religious) Critique Of Kinsey, James Shields Oct 1999

Eros And Transgression In An Age Of Immanence: Georges Bataille’S (Religious) Critique Of Kinsey, James Shields

Faculty Journal Articles

This paper explores the religious implications of eroticism in Western culture since the Sexual Revolution, a period at once applauded for its open and immanent view of sexuality and denounced for its shamelessness and promiscuity. After discussing the work and effects of Alfred C. Kinsey, the father of the Sexual Revolution, I focus on a critical appraisal of Kinsey written by French theorist Georges Bataille (“Kinsey, the Underworld and Work,” in L’Erotisme, 1957). Bataille situates contemporary Western sexuality within a larger historical movement towards the “desacralization” of all aspects of human life: sex, under the scientific gaze of the ...