A Philosopher’s Defeat in World War II: Tanabe Hajime’s Conversion to Shin Buddhism in Philosophy as Metanoetics

Taro Mochizuki


In the last years of World War II, Tanabe Hajime, started writing Philosophy as Metanoetics (the way of zange). He was inspired by Shinran, a thirteenth-century Japanese Shin Buddhist  thinker and began to understand philosophy as metanoetics. “a philosophy that is not a philosophy”. Philosophy that is not a philosophy cannot be undertaken by one’s own power, but must be acquired through Other-power. Hence, philosophizing implies the continual act of “practice-faith-witness” (gyo-shin- sho) of the philosopher’s own metanoia, performed by Other-power within himself. This paper argues that Tanabe’s conversion became a creative deconstruction of modern philosophy caused by the cultural encounter occasioned by the war, which generated a dialectical effect in his thinking and eventually led to his conversion to Shin Buddhism.

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