In his book Nietzsche and Zen. Self-overcoming without a Self (2013) André van der Braak compares the philosophy of Nietzsche with the work of some Zen thinkers. Through the works of Nāgārjuna, Linji, Dōgen en Nishitani he tries to give a new perspective (or multiple perspectives) on Nietzsche. The book is a great work of learning, especially on Zen philosophy. The stereotypical anti-intellectualism of Zen for example is revealed to be based on the philosophy of (among others) Linji. And other Zen thinkers, like Dōgen, were not anti-intellectual at all.
I shall not discuss the whole of the book here, but rather focus on Van der Braak’s method, which he expounds in the Preface and chapters 3 and 5. First, he adopts the method of ‘intercultural hermeneutics’ for his own book. Second, he interprets the philosophy of Nietzsche and of Zen thinkers as non-propositional way-seeking.
Comparative philosophy as intercultural hermeneutics
Van der Braak places his work within comparative philosophy. Rather than finding one universal, true perspective or just mapping out similarities and differences, he opts for a hermeneutical approach:
‘The aim is not to arrive at some static “objective truth” about reality, but to expand the range of possible interpretations and in this way