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A Comparative Philosophical Study


Lexington 2009

"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 

"This erudite, expansive book undertakes a study of convergences—as distinct from compari sons—between the aesthetic manifestations and political implications of Russian and Japanese philosophies of space." Slavic and East European Journal. Read review

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




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”

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. 


Five philosophers of space: S.L. Frank, Nishida Kitaro, Petr Savitzky, Watsuji Tetsuo, N.S. Trubetzkoy

Философские концепции культурного пространствав России и Японии:сравнение философии Нисиды Китарои Семёна Франка

Жан-Люк Нанси отмечает, что общество, не являясь абсолютным субъектом (я, воля, дух),по своей природе не вписывается ни в какую логическую метафизику. Несмотря на это или попричине этого, западная философия настоятельно пыталась интерпретировать обществоисключительно при помощи этих метафизических терминов (Nancy, 1986, page 18, La Commonautée désoeuvrée, Christian Bourgeois, Paris).
Некоторые размышления о российских и японских понятиях об обществе и пространствепоказывают, что характеристики, данные Нанси и Кантом, типичны только для техобществ, которые функционируют в рамках западной интеллектуальной концепции. Мне хотелось бы сравнить позиции Нисиды Китаро (1870-1935) и Семёна Л. Франка (1877-1950),которые разработали понятия «басё» и «соборность» в качестве альтернативных концепцийпространства. Как Нисида, так и Франк пытались преодолеть то, что они считали«типичным западным представлением об отдельных «я» как материальных «объектах». Такиепроцессы, как интуиция, являются неэффективными, потому что они лишь трансформируютв объект то, что им является по мнению «я». Для евразианиста организация государствасконцентрирована вокруг персонального Бога, а «симфоническая индивидуальность» России- Евразии представлена неэгоистичным, общим сознанием. Ключевые слова: Нисида Китаро, Семен Франк, Басё, соборность, философия космизма,сравнение русской и японской философии.




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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