Philosophy as metanoetics

Excerpt from Tanabe Hajime, Philosophy as Metanoetics, trans. Takeuchi Yoshinori, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.


[L]ife consists of the continuous practice of “death-and-resurrection.” Metanoesis is practicing, and also being made to practice, this “death-and-resurrection” according to criteria of the value and meaning of our existence, or, more correctly, of the valuelessness and meaninglessness of our existence. It must begin with a casting away of the self that is no longer qualified to exist because it is forced to recognize, through suffering and sorrow, that its being is valueless.

This means that metanoesis (zange) is the exact opposite of despair in the ordinary sense, which consists of getting discouraged at ourselves, asserting our negative self, and growing increasingly vexed to the point of forgetting the fact that we have been condemned to original sin. In contrast, zange is a true self-surrender that consists not in a recalcitrant despair but in a submissive one, a despair in which we renounce all hope for and claim to justification. Submissive despair thus preserves the permanent wish that our being be as it ought to be. Through such despair we suffer from the serious discrepancy in our being that which “ought to be” and that which is “as it is.” Through zange we regard ourselves as truly not deserving to be, and thereby enter fully into a state of genuine despair leading to self-surrender.