Book Review: The Philosophy of Symbiosis

The Philosophy of Symbiosis by Kisho Kurokawa
Wiley, 1994
Paperback, 293 pages


The expression of my own will is...the transformation of Western domination and logos.
This quote comes in the last chapter of Kurokawa's philosophical treatise, though by this time the reader is well aware of the author's will. His philosophy is not merely a reaction to western dualism as much as it is a proponent of the symbiotic ideals: pluralism, cultural diversity and appreciation, ecology, and what Kurokawa calls a shift to the age of life principle. This symbiosis is based on the philosophy of Consciousness Only, a major support of Mahayana Buddhism which occupies an important place for Japan, and naturally for the author. Basically the book looks at Western dualism - based on Christian beliefs that break the world into opposites (light/dark, good/evil) - and says that since life and nature are not black and white, our actions shouldn't be either. Instead of our choices being broken into one of two dialectics, a symbiosis of elements from opposites can create something new, a third choice that still appreciates both sides. It's a positive view of the world that is rooted in Japanese life but can find application in other parts of the world, according to the author.


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