Thorsten Botz-Bornstein

The Website Against Philosophical Provincialism

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Lanham: Lexington Books, 2009. List Price: $60.00 Cloth 0-7391-3068-4 / 978-0-7391-3068-1 Hardcover, 174p. Order from





Schrader: "In Japanese art there is a concept of mono no aware, sweet sadness, the pleasure of endings, of autumn and seeing a dying leaf."

Sokurov: "For Russia, sweet sadness and pleasant farewells are not possible. On the contrary, in the Russian sense of elegy, it's a deep vertical feeling, not a delighting one. It gets you deeply, sharply, painfully. It's massive."

Conversation between Paul Schrader and Alexander Sokurov



Russia and Japan are not only successful reformers but also the first "non-western" countries that develop a philosophy in the "Western" sense of their own and on a larger scale. Still it seems that, in spite of this striking parallel, no comparative research has been done on these two philosophical traditions. Studies on "Nishida and Heidegger" are numerous while topics like, say, "Nishida and Berdiaev" or "Watsuji and Trubetzkoy" have never been taken up for examination. This is the more so surprising because the comparative potential of such studies is obvious, be it simply for historical reasons. In Russia, the Eastern Orthodox Church passed by, for example, those Neo-Platonic dichotomies like 'body' and 'mind' that are, not coincidentally, assumed by the Western Church as well as for Western metaphysics (cf. Lopatin 1913). Also in Japan these notions had never been taken for granted. An ambiguous "Western" philosophy could adopt similar forms in both countries.


Praise for Aesthetics and Politics of Space:

"An intellectual tour-de-force, Aesthetics and Politics of Space in Russia and Japan succeeds admirably on several fronts, including its presentation of the first sustained comparison of philosophies from Japan and Russia and the introduction of Botz-Bornstein's original concept of 'convergence' as a convincing countermeasure to the facile critiques that modern scholars have often leveled against the alleged 'totalitarianism' of major Japanese and Russian thinkers. This is a work of philosophy as well as on philosophy—a rare combination that makes this book required reading for anyone who cannot afford to ignore the world in which s/he lives." Michael F. Marra, University of California-Los Angeles




1. The Historical Foundations of Russian and Japanese Philosophies

2. Space in Noh-Plays and Icons

3. Models of Cultural Space Derived from NISHIDA Kitarō and Semën L. Frank (basho and sobornost’)

4. Space and Aesthetics: A Dialogue Between NISHIDA Kitarō and Mikhail Bakhtin

5. From Community to Time-Space Development: N. S. Trubetzkoy, NISHIDA Kitarō, WATSUJI Testurō


Postface: Resistance and Slave Nations

Explanation of Terms

Timeline: “Philosophical Events in Russia and Japan”


1725 "Modernizer" Peter the Great dies

1836 Petr Chaadaev "the first original Russian philosopher" (Mikhail Epstein) publishes the "Philosophical Letter"

1840 First Russian Slavophils gather in Moscow ("paternalist and conservative")

1848-49: Revolutions in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest

1848: First Pan-Slav Congress in Prague

1850: "Westernizer" Herzen's From the Other Shore

1858: Formal Foundation of Russian Pan-Slav Movement

1871: Danilevsky's Russia and Europe (the "Pan-Slavist Bible")

1887: Inoue Enryo founds the "Philosophical Institute" to promote the study of Buddhism

1881 Tsar Alexander II assassinated

1888 Soloviev, "the first Russian orginal systematical philopsopher" (Lossky) publishes The National Question in Russia

1901: Foundation of the Religious-Philosophical Society of St. Petersburg

1902: Symposium "Problems of Idealism"

1902: Okakura's Ideals of the East inaugurating the "Asian Spiritual Renaissance"

1904-1909: Articles by Symbolist writers appear in Vesy, inaugurating the "Russian Religious-Philosophical Renaissance"

Unsuccessful Russian Revolution of 1905 / Japanese-Russian War

1906: Kita Ikki's Theory of National Polity and Pure Socialism

1908-09: "Paternalist, conservative and rational" Chairs in "Colonial Studies" are created at Tokyo and Waseda Universities

1911: Nishida, "the first original Japanese philosopher" (Nakamura Yujiro) writes Zen no Kenkyu

1911: Sun-Yat Sen's Revolutionary Movement in China 

1912: S. Trubetzkoy's Soloviev's Worldview

Russian Revolution of 1917

1918 Japanese Radicals around Okawa Shumei found the Rosokai Society 

1921: Eurasian Manifesto Exodus to the East

1929: Kuki's The Structure of 'Iki'

1931-32: Japan's Takeover of Manchuria

Round-Table Discussions of right-wing philosophers "The World-Historical Standpoint and Japan

1935: Watsuji's Culture and Climate

1937: Sino-Japanese War

1937: Last volume of the Eurasian Chronicle appears

1941: Attack of Pearl Harbor

1942: Conference "Overcoming of Modernity"

1943: Nishida's Principle of a New World Order

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