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Comparative Philosophy Colloquium by Andrew Whitehead 'Philosophizing With Ikkyū Sōjun’s Wickedly Ridiculous Zen Poetry'

Wednesday 5 December 2018
Past events 2018
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

The Institute for Philosophy and The Centre for Intercultural Philosophy are pleased to announce a lecture by

Andrew Whitehead


One would be hard pressed to find someone living in Japan—even today—who does not know of the fifteenth-century Zen monk Ikkyū Sōjun 一休宗純  (1394-1481), and yet, the Ikkyū they know has little to do with the actual historical figure of this most controversial master. More often than not, Ikkyū’s legacy and ongoing popularity is owed to either the wealth of hagiographic literature written about him during the Tokugawa period (1602-1868), or to the modern redeployment of his likeness in the children’s cartoon character Ikkyū-san. Although his writings have been translated by a select number of Japanologists in the latter part of the last century, the Zen philosophy at the heart of his thinking remains largely unexplored. I present a selection of key elements from Ikkyū’s writings in order to draw attention to the valuable philosophical insights to be found in his “wickedly ridiculous” poetry. 


Andrew K. Whitehead is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Kennesaw State University in the United States. He specializes in East-West comparative philosophy, particularly concerning Japanese Buddhist philosophy, the Kyoto School, Chinese Daoism, and the German and French traditions of phenomenology and existentialism. His recent publications include “Ikkyū Sōjun” in The Dao Companion to Japanese Buddhist Philosophy (Springer, 2019), as well as the co-edited volumes (Bloomsbury): Imagination: Cross-Cultural Philosophical Analyses (2018), Wisdom and Philosophy: Contemporary and Comparative Approaches (2016), and Landscape and Travelling East and West: A Philosophical Journey (2014). He is presently the President of the Académie du Midi Philosophical Association, and Associate Editor of the journal Comparative and Continental Philosophy (Taylor & Francis).

All are welcome!

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