Loyola University Maryland

Philosophy Department

Bret W. Davis

brett-davisProfessor and T. J. Higgins S.J. Chair in Philosophy

Office: HU 050P

Education and Experience

  • B.A. – Trinity University (Philosophy), 1989
  • M.A. – Vanderbilt University (Philosophy), 1996
  • Ph.D. – Vanderbilt University (Philosophy), 2001
  • Study of Japanese Language and Culture in Osaka, Japan, 1990–1993
  • Graduate Studies and Post-Doctoral Research
    at Otani University and Kyoto University, Japan, 1996-2004
  • Visiting Scholar at Freiburg University, Germany, 2007-2008
  • Visiting Scholar at Kyoto University, Japan, 2011-2012

Areas of Specialization

  • Continental Philosophy, with a focus on Heidegger, Phenomenology, and Hermeneutics
  • Japanese Philosophy, with a focus on the Kyoto School
  • East Asian Thought, with a focus on Zen Buddhism
  • Cross-Cultural Philosophy, including hermeneutical and ethical issues
  • Comparative Philosophy, especially of Religion

Recent Courses Taught

  • PL 201 Foundations of Philosophy: Legacies of the Greeks
  • PL 216 Asian Thought: Philosophies of Hinduism and Buddhism
  • PL 314 Environmental Ethics
  • PL 321 Cross-Cultural Philosophy: Ethics/Politics and Hermeneutics
  • PL 336 Comparative Philosophy: East-West Dialogues
  • PL 354 Chinese Philosophy
  • PL 365 Japanese Philosophy
  • PL 385 The Thought of Heidegger

    Dr. Davis also leads the Heart of Zen meditation group on campus.

Selected Publications


  • Sekai no naka no Nihon no tetsugaku [Japanese Philosophy in the World], co-edited with Fujita Masakatsu (Showado, 2005).
  • Heidegger and the Will: On the Way to Gelassenheit (Northwestern University Press, 2007).
  • Martin Heidegger: Key Concepts, edited (Acumen Publishing, 2010).
  • Martin Heidegger, Country Path Conversations, translated (Indiana University Press, 2010).
  • Japanese and Continental Philosophy: Conversations with the Kyoto School, co-edited with Brian Schroeder and Jason M. Wirth (Indiana University Press, 2011).
  • Engaging Dōgen’s Zen: The Philosophy of Practice as Awakening, co-edited with Tetsuzen Jason M. Wirth and Shūdō Brian Schroeder (Wisdom Publications, 2017).
  • Nisoku-hoko no tetsugakusha-tachi [Bipedal Philosophers], co-authored with Nakajima Takahiro (University of Tokyo, 2020)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Philosophy, edited (Oxford University Press, 2020)
  • Real Zen for Real Life (Great Courses, 2020)


  • “The Kyoto School,” in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • “Zen after Zarathustra: The Problem of the Will in the Confrontation between Nietzsche and Buddhism,” in Journal of Nietzsche Studies 28 (2004): 89–138.
  • “The Presencing of Truth: Dogen’s Genjokoan,” in Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings, ed. Jay Garfield and William Edelglass (Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 251–259.
  • “Natural Freedom: Human/Nature Non-Dualism in Japanese Thought,” in The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy, ed. Jay Garfield (Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 334–47.
  • “Forms of Emptiness in Zen,” in A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy, ed. Steven Emmanuel (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), 190-213
  • “Nishitani Keiji no Zen-tetsugaku” [Nishitani Keiji’s Philosophy of Zen], in Zen to Kyoto-tetsugaku [Zen and Kyoto Philosophy], edited by Ueda Shizuteru (Kyoto: Tōeisha, 2006), pp. 228–49. 
  • “Nijū naru ‘zettai no ta e no naizai-teki chōetsu: Nishida no shūkyō-tetsugaku ni okeru tasharon” [Twofold ‘Immanent Transcendence to the Absolute Other’: Alterity in Nishida’s Philosophy of Religion], in Nihontetsugakushi Kenkyū (Studies in Japanese Philosophy) 9 (2012): 102–34.
  • “Heidegger on the Way from Onto-Historical Ethnocentrism to East-West Dialogue,” in Gatherings: The Heidegger Circle Annual 6 (2016): 130–156.

More information on Dr. Davis's work and downloadable versions of many of his articles can be found here: https://loyola.academia.edu/BretDavis

A videotaped interview with Dr. Davis on his work in Japanese, Continental and cross-cultural philosophy can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/_mqd4t6JAzA

Michael Ashley-Mennis

Michael Ashley-Mennis

This 2010 grad, who teaches social studies at a Catholic institution, developed his passion for education at Loyola