Natural Freedom: Human/Nature Nondualism in Japanese Thought

Bret W. Davis

in The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780195328998
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Natural Freedom: Human/Nature Nondualism in Japanese Thought


Many of us today can neither swallow the metaphysical dogma that would separate our souls from the natural world nor bite the deterministic bullet and renounce our longing for—and inner sense of—freedom. The question, then, is: Can we find a path that leads beyond these apparent conflicts between freedom and nature? One thing seems clear: if there is such a path of reconciliation, it must entail along the way a radical rethinking of the very concepts of “nature” and “freedom.” This article demonstrates that Japanese thought has much to contribute to precisely such a rethinking of nature and freedom—a rethinking that sees them as nondually interrelated in their origins and as ultimately reconcilable through practice. By drawing on a number of traditional and modern thinkers, it explores the philosophical sources in Japan for recognizing and realizing the possibility of a natural freedom.

Keywords: Japanese philosophy; natural freedom; nature; origins

Article.  6243 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »