Embracing Uncertainty
Embracing Uncertainty

Embracing Uncertainty

Regular price $24.95

Embracing Uncertainty

Future Jazz, That 13th Century Buddhist Monk, and the Invention of Cultures

John W. Traphagan

ISBN 978-1-896559-76-6, 156 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 in

Here you have the product of my thinking as an anthropologist who has studied and traveled to Japan for over thirty years.

In one sense, the book is an anthropological memoir in which I work through ideas of uncertainty and undifferentiation evident in the writings of Dôgen as they relate to ethics and culture, but also explore other thinkers like philosopher Richard Rorty and anthropologist Clifford Geertz.

I describe what I call the ethnographic outlook, which has the potential to generate humility, as a potentially powerful means to transform both self and society.

A central goal of the book is to explore the idea that all knowledge is inherently uncertain, including knowledge of right and wrong, and that the quest for certainty leads to many of the problems we see in the modern world. The book threads a discussion of jazz improvisation as a way of thinking about the human experience and presents the idea of the lead sheet as a metaphor for culture and the ongoing process of change that is the world.

John Traphagan, Ph.D. is Professor and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor in the program in Human Dimensions of Organizations. He is the author of numerous articles and books related to Japanese culture. Traphagan is also host of a regular podcast on the New Books Network that focuses on science, technology, and society.

1 Riffs and Licks
2 The Ethnographic Outlook
3 Meeting Dôgen
4 Humility
5 On Teaching
6 Religion and Science
7 The Question
Further Reading

More from this collection