Semantics of Indian Philosophy: Toshihiko Izutsu’s “Oriental Philosophy”

Location: OCHS Library
Speaker: Prof. Yoshitsugu Sawai
Date: November 1, 2018
Time: 2:00pm to 3:00pm

The purpose of this lecture is to elucidate the characteristics of Indian philosophy on reality and consciousness, from the semantic perspectives of the famous Japanese philosopher Toshihiko Izutsu (1914-93). Through his semantic attempt to construct an “Oriental Philosophy,” Izutsu interpreted such Indian philosophical texts as the Upaniṣads and Śaṅkara’s commentaries on the Upaniṣadic texts. In this lecture, while clarifying the hermeneutical structure of his “Oriental Philosophy,” I would like to argue how he semantically interpreted the structure of reality and consciousness in Indian philosophy, focusing on Śaṅkara’s advaita (non-dual) Vedānta philosophy. For Izutsu, among various Indian thoughts, Śaṅkara’s philosophy is the most representative thought in Izutsu’s Oriental philosophical reflection. In Izutsu’s view, the main stream of Oriental philosophy, including Indian philosophy, has been traditionally “anti-cosmic,” i.e., ontologically destructive.

Prof. Yoshitsugu Sawai is Professor of the History of Religions and former Dean of the Faculty of Human Studies at Tenri University (Japan), as well as Advisor of the Japan Association of Religion and Ethics. He is the author of The Faith of Ascetics and Lay Smartas: A Study of the Sankaran Tradition of Srngeri (Sammlung De Nobili).