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


  • Zen Pathways: An Introduction to the Philosophy and Practice of Zen Buddhism (Oxford University Press, 2022).
  • Real Zen for Real Life (Great Courses, 2020)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Philosophy, edited (Oxford University Press, 2020)
  • Nisoku-hoko no tetsugakusha-tachi [Bipedal Philosophers], co-authored with Nakajima Takahiro (University of Tokyo, 2020)
  • Engaging Dōgen’s Zen: The Philosophy of Practice as Awakening, co-edited with Tetsuzen Jason M. Wirth and Shūdō Brian Schroeder (Wisdom Publications, 2017).
  • Japanese and Continental Philosophy: Conversations with the Kyoto School, co-edited with Brian Schroeder and Jason M. Wirth (Indiana University Press, 2011).
  • Martin Heidegger, Country Path Conversations, translated (Indiana University Press, 2010).
  • Martin Heidegger: Key Concepts, edited (Acumen Publishing, 2010).
  • Heidegger and the Will: On the Way to Gelassenheit (Northwestern University Press, 2007).
  • Sekai no naka no Nihon no tetsugaku [Japanese Philosophy in the World], co-edited with Fujita Masakatsu (Showado, 2005).

Recent Articles

  • The Kyoto School,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Nothing Matters.” The Philosopher 109/1 (Spring 2021): 16–28.
  • Nihon-tetsugaku to wa nanika: Sono teigi to hani wo saikō suru kokoromi” [What Is Japanese Philosophy? Rethinking Its Definition and Scope], in Nihon-tetsugakushi Kenkyū [Research in the History of Japanese Philosophy], 16 (2019): 1–20.
  • “Knowing Limits: Toward a Versatile Perspectivism with Nietzsche, Heidegger, Zhuangzi and Zen,” in Research in Phenomenology 49/3 (2019): 301–334.
  • “Beyond Philosophical Euromonopolism: Other Ways of—Not Otherwise than—Philosophy,” in Philosophy East and West 69/2 (April 2019): 592–619.
  • “Commuting Between Zen and Philosophy: In the Footsteps of Kyoto School Philosophers and Psychosomatic Practitioners,” in Transitions: Crossing Boundaries in Japanese Philosophy, edited by Francesa Greco, Leon Krings, and Yukiko Kuwayama (Nagoya: Chisokudō Publications, 2021), pp. 71–111.
  • “Faith and/or/as Enlightenment: Rethinking Religion from the Perspective of Japanese Buddhism,” in Asian Philosophies and the Idea of Religion: Paths Beyond Faith and Reason, edited by Sonia Sikka and Ashwani Peetush (New York: Routledge, 2020), pp. 36–64.
  • “Heidegger and Daoism: A Dialogue on the Useless Way of Unnecessary Being,” in Daoist Encounters with Phenomenology, edited by David Chai (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), pp. 161–96.
  • “Expressing Experience: Language in Ueda Shizuteru’s Philosophy of Zen,” in Dao Companion to Japanese Buddhist Philosophy, edited by Gereon Kopf (New York: Springer Publishing, 2019), pp. 713–38.

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

Graham McAleer

Graham McAleer, Ph.D.

Known for his striped socks and Scottish accent, this professor has an undeniable gift for making students passionate about philosophy