1st Edition

The Kyoto School and International Relations Non-Western Attempts for a New World Order

By Kosuke Shimizu Copyright 2022
    190 Pages
    by Routledge

    190 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Kyoto School and International Relations explores the Kyoto School’s challenge to transcend the ‘Western’ domination over the ‘rest’ of the world, and the issues this raises for contemporary ‘non-Western’ and ‘Global IR’ literature.

    Was the support of Kyoto School thinkers inevitable due to the despotism of military government, thus nothing to do with their philosophy, or a logical extension of their philosophical engagement? The book answers this question by investigating individual Kyoto School philosophers in detail. The author argues that any attempts to transcend the ‘West’ are destined to be drawn into power politics as far as they uncritically adopt and use the prevailing ontological concept of linear progressive time and dominant meta-narrative of Westphalia. Thus, to fully understand this problem, there is the need to be cautious of the power of language of Westphalia and the concept of time in IR.

    Aimed at students and scholars of IR theory, Japanese politics and East Asian IR in general, this book provides some introductory explanations of these academic subjects, developing a theory based on the concepts of time and language of Kyoto School philosophy.

    1. Introduction

    2. East Asian IR Revisited

    3. Encounter, Transformation of Time, and Self-Colonisation: The Japanese Modernisation

    4. Nishida Kitaro and Tanbae Hajime: The First Generation of the School

    5. The Transcendental Whole and ‘Inclusiveness’: The Discourse of the Big 4

    6. Miki Kisyoshi’s Philosophy of Imagination: Towards Everyday Life

    7. Tosaka Jun’s Theory of Critical Relationality: Morality of Everydayness

    8. The Reception of the Kyoto School Philosophy in the Post-war Era

    9. Bringing Bodily Experience Back In: Postwar Japanese IR

    10. Conclusion: Towards a Mahāyāna Buddhist IR?


    Kosuke Shimizu is Professor of International Relations in the Department of Global Studies and the Director of the Research Centre of World Buddhist Cultures at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan, and Research Associate of the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He was Visiting Scholar of Copenhagen University, Denmark. His recent publications include ‘Political Healing and Mahāāa Buddhist Medicine: A Critical Engagement with Contemporary International Relations’, Third World Quarterly (2021), and ‘An East Asian Approach to Temporality, Subjectivity, and Ethics: Bringing Mahāāa Buddhist Ontological Ethics of Nikon into International Relations’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs (2021). He has also published two edited books in English: Critical International Relations Theories in East Asia: Relationality, Subjectivity, and Pragmatism (2019) and Multiculturalism and Conflict Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific: Migration, Language, and Politics (2015, co-edited with William S. Bradley).

    ‘By collapsing the past and the future into the present, Kosuke Shimizu’s thrilling reflections on the Kyoto School leave no escape from responsibility to any soul -- neither the philosopher inspiring conquest and oppression of the mind and body, nor, by inference, the scientist inventing mass as well as precision kill devices -- fine with authorities murdering after weaponizing knowledge.’

    Chih-yu Shih, Professor of International Relations, National Taiwan University

    ‘Through the lens of the Kyoto School, Kosuke Shimizu offers a far-ranging examination of the promises and pitfalls of Non-Western IR theorizing -- promises because of its novel conceptualization of time and space and the pragmatic non-resolution of conflicts; pitfalls because of its eventual surrender to the realist and liberal ontology and discourse of Westphalia. Scholars of global and Western IR will learn immensely from this book.’

    Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies, Cornell University, USA

    ‘In this insightful and well researched book, Kosuke Shimizu skillfully illustrates the dangers of naive attempts to transcend Western modernity by providing a cautionary tale of the Kyoto School. Highly recommended for anyone working on postwestern approaches to IR.’

    Giorgio Shani, Chair of the Religion and Politics Research Committee of IPSA, UK, and the Director of Rotary Peace Center of the International Christian University, Japan

    ‘Kosuke Shimizu’s intuitive analysis of the Kyoto School should give the proponents of ‘non-Western IR’ approaches a pause to consider this cautionary tale: that ‘scholarship’ is never only about scholarship, for there is always politics involved; and that attempts to construct theories about international relations while overlooking its relationality may be destined to repeat past mistakes.’

    Pinar Bilgin, Professor of International Relations, Bilkent University, Turkey