Kojin Karatani was born in Amagasaki city between Osaka and Kobe in 1941.
He received his B.A. in economics and M.A. in English literature, both from Tokyo University.
Awarded the Gunzo Literary Prize at the age of 27 for an essay on Natsume Soseki, he began working actively as a literary critic, while teaching at Hosei University in Tokyo.
In 1975 he was invited to Yale University to teach Japanese literature as a visiting professor, where he became acquainted with Yale critics such as Paul de Man and Fredric Jameson.
In the 1980s, he devoted himself to abstract problems concerning "language, number, money", while at the same time committing himself to the political situation by editing the quarterly journal 'Critical Space' with Akira Asada. 'Critical Space' was the most influential intellectual media in Japan until it folded in 2002.
From 1990 onward, Karatani has taught regularly at Columbia University. He was also a regular member of ANY, the international architects' conference which was held annually for the last decade of the 20th century.
In 2006, Karatani has retired from teaching in Japan.
Origins of Modern Japanese Literature, Duke University Press,1993
Architecture as Metaphor; Language, Number, Money, MIT Press,1995
Transcritique: On Kant and Marx, MIT Press, 2003
Man in Awe, Tojusha, 1972
Meaning as Illness, Kawadeshobo, 1975
Marx: The Center of Possibilities, Kodansha, 1978
Origins of Modern Japanese literature, Kodansha, 1980
Architecture as Metaphor, Kodansha, 1983
Introspection and Retrospection, Kodansha,1984
Postmodernism and Criticism, Fukutake, 1985
Philosophical Inquiry 1, Kodansha, 1986
Language and Tragedy, Daisanbunmeisha, 1989
Philosophical Inquiry 2, Kodansha,1989
On the 'End', Fukutake, 1990
Collected Essays on Soseki, Daisanbumeisha, 1992
Materialism as Humor, Chikumashobo, 1993
Thoughts before the war, Bungeishunjusha, 1994
Sakaguchi Ango and Nakagami Kenji, Ohta Press, 1996
Ethics 21, Heibonsha, 2000
Transcritique: On Kant and Marx, Hihyokukansha, 2001