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10/02/2017 TheKyotoSchool(StanfordEncyclopediaofPhilosophy)

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


TheKyotoSchool
FirstpublishedMonFeb27,2006substantiverevisionTueNov11,2014

TheKyotoSchool(Kytogakuha)isagroupof20thcenturyJapanesethinkerswhodevelopedoriginal
philosophiesbycreativelydrawingontheintellectualandspiritualtraditionsofEastAsia,thoseof
MahynaBuddhisminparticular,aswellasonthemethodsandcontentofWesternphilosophy.

Afteranintroductorysection,thisarticlewillfocusonfourquestions:HowshouldtheKyotoSchoolbe
defined?Whatismeantbyitscentralphilosophicalconceptofabsolutenothingness,andhowdidthe
KyotoSchoolphilosophersvariouslydevelopthisEasterninspiredideaindialogueanddebatewithWestern
thoughtandwithoneanother?Whatarethebasicsoftheirpoliticalwritings,andthebasisofthecontroversy
surroundingthem?WhatisthelegacyoftheKyotoSchoolforcrossculturalthinking?

1.Introduction
2.IdentityandMembership:WhoBelongstoWhat?
2.1AHistoryofExternalNaming
2.2TheQuestionofDefinition
2.3MembersandAssociates
3.AbsoluteNothingness:GivingPhilosophicalFormtotheFormless
3.1WesternBeingvs.EasternNothingness?Ontologyvs.Meontology?
3.2TheEasternBackgroundfortheIdeaofAbsoluteNothingness
3.3Nishida'sTopologyofAbsoluteNothingness
3.4Tanabe'sAbsoluteNothingnessastheOtherPowerofAbsoluteMediation
3.5Nishitani'sThreefieldTopology:Being,Nihility,andnyat
3.6Ueda'sTwolayeredWorld:LinguisticHorizonswithintheEmptyExpanse
3.7TheSelfthatisnotaSelfandtheNothingnessofRadicalSubjectivity
4.PoliticalVenturesandMisadventures
4.1TheRazor'sEdgeofCooperativeResistance
4.2Nishida'sReluctantWaroverWordsandhisAmbivalentUniversalism
4.3ControversialWartimeSymposia,andNishitani'sNationofNonEgo
4.4TheshimaMemos:RecordofaThinkTankforNavyModerates
4.5AftertheWar:Tanabe'sMetanoeticTurnandNishitani'sOtherCheek
5.TheCrossCulturalLegacyoftheKyotoSchool
5.1BetweenorBeyondEastandWest?
5.2JapanesePhilosophyintheWorld
Bibliography
WorksCited
SelectedKyotoSchoolWorksavailableinEnglishandotherWesternlanguages
FurtherReading
AcademicTools
OtherInternetResources
RelatedEntries

1.Introduction
TheunintentionalfounderoftheKyotoSchoolisNishidaKitar[1](18701945).IntheMeijiperiod(1868
1912),whenJapanreopeneditselftotheworldaftermorethantwocenturiesofnationalisolation,a
generationofscholarsdevotedthemselvestoimportingWesternacademicfieldsofinquiry,including
philosophy.AftermanyyearsofstudyingWesternphilosophyandEasternclassics,alongsideadedicated
practiceofZenBuddhism,NishidawasthefirstmajormodernJapanesethinkertosuccessfullygobeyond
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learningfromtheWesttoconstructhisownoriginalsystemofthought.Thishebegantodoinhismaiden
work,AnInquiryintotheGood,publishedin1911(Nishida1990).Onthebasisofthisworkheobtaineda
positioninthePhilosophyDepartmentofKyotoUniversity,wherehewentontoceaselesslydevelophis
thoughtandtodecisivelyinfluencesubsequentgenerationsoforiginalphilosophers,includingthetwoother
mostprominentmembersoftheKyotoSchool,TanabeHajime(18851962)andNishitaniKeiji(1900
1990).

AsisreflectedinthenameoftheSchool,itsfoundingmemberswereassociatedwithKyotoUniversity,the
mostprestigiousuniversityinJapannexttoTokyoUniversity.ItisperhapsnocoincidencethattheSchool
formedinKyoto,theancientcapitalandcenteroftraditionalJapaneseculture,ratherthanTokyo,thenew
capitalandcenterofmodernization,whichalsomeant,Westernization.WhiletheKyotoSchoolphilosophers
alldevotedthemselvestothestudyofWesternphilosophy(indeedtheymadelastingcontributionstothe
introductionofWesternphilosophyintoJapan),theyalsokeptonefootfirmlyplantedintheirnative
traditionsofthought.OnescholaroftheKyotoSchoolwritesinthisregard:ThekeynoteoftheKyoto
school,aspersonseducatedinthetraditionsoftheEastdespitealltheyhavelearnedfromtheWest,hasbeen
theattempttobringthepossibilitieslatentintraditionalcultureintoencounterwithWesternculture
(Minamoto1994,217).

Itwouldbemisleading,however,ifweweretothinkoftheKyotoSchoolasmerelyputtingaWestern
rationalmaskoverEasternintuitivewisdom.Norwoulditbeentirelyaccuratetothinkofthemassimply
usingWesternphilosophicalidiomsandmodesofthoughttogivemodernexpressiontoEastAsianBuddhist
thought.FornotonlyistheWesterninfluenceontheirthoughtmorethanskindeep,theirphilosophiesarefar
toooriginaltobestraightforwardlyequatedwithpreexistingEasternthought.Insofarastheycanbe
identifiedasEastAsianorMahynaBuddhistthinkers,thismustbeunderstoodinthesenseofhaving
criticallyandcreativelydevelopedthesetraditionsinphilosophicaldialoguewithWesternthought.Itshould
bekeptinmindthattheirprimarycommitmentisnottoaculturalselfexpression,oreventoadialogue
betweenworldreligions,butrathertoagenuinelyphilosophicalsearchfortruth.

TheKyotoSchoolhasbecomemostwellknown,especiallyintheWest,foritsphilosophiesofreligion.
IndeedthereceptionoftheKyotoSchoolinNorthAmericainparticularhasmoreoftenthannottakenplace
inuniversitydepartmentsofReligiousStudies,wheretheirphilosophiesofreligionhavefrequentlybeen
viewedasrepresentativeofMahynaBuddhism,specificallyofthelatter'sZenandShin(TruePureLand)
schools.[2]Whiletheexchangeonthesetermshasbeenfruitful,thisviewcanbemisleadingintworespects.
Firstofall,evenif,formostoftheKyotoSchoolthinkers,aphilosophyofreligionistheultimatearcheand
telosoftheirthought,itishardlytheirsoleconcern.Theyaddressafullarrayofphilosophicalissues:
metaphysics,ontology,epistemology,logic,philosophicalanthropology,philosophyofhistory,philosophyof
culture,ethics,politicaltheory,philosophyofart,etc.

Secondly,evenwhentheirfocusisonthephilosophyofreligion,theyapproachthistopicinanondogmatic
andoftensurprisinglynonsectarianmanner,drawingonandreinterpreting,forexample,Christiansources
alongwithBuddhistones.EvenNishitani,whodidinfactcometoidentifyhisthoughtwiththestandpoint
ofZen,adamantlyrefusedthelabelofanaturaltheologianofZen.Heclaimedthat:IfIhavefrequently
hadoccasiontodealwiththestandpointsofBuddhism,andparticularlyZenBuddhism,thefundamental
reasonisthat[theoriginalformofrealityandtheoriginalcountenanceofhumanbeing]seemtometo
appeartheremostplainlyandunmistakably(NKCX,288Nishitani1982,261).

KyotoSchoolphilosophy,therefore,shouldbeunderstoodneitherasBuddhistthoughtforcedintoWestern
garb,norasuniversaldiscourse(whichtheWesthappenedtohaveinventedordiscovered)dressedupin
Japanesegarb.Rather,itisbestunderstoodasasetofuniquecontributionsfromtheperspectiveofmodern
Japanthatis,fromaJapanthatremainsfundamentallydeterminedbyitshistoricallayersoftraditional
cultureatthesametimeasbeingessentiallyconditionedbyitsmostrecentlayerofcontactwiththeWest
toanascentworldwidedialogueofcrossculturalphilosophy.

Thisarticlewillproceedasfollows.Inthefollowingsection,Iwillconsiderthepreliminaryissuesofhowto
definetheKyotoSchoolandwhotoincludeasitsmembers.ThenameKyotoSchoolhasbeenusedinthe
past,insomecasesratherloosely,torefertoavarietyofsetsofthinkers.Itisthereforenecessarytobeginby
discussingthequestion:Justwhobelongstoexactlywhat?Thethirdandcentralsectionofthisarticlewill
treatwhatisgenerallyconsideredtobethecentralphilosophicalconceptandcontributionoftheKyoto
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School,namely,theirideasofabsolutenothingness.Afterdiscussingtheostensiblecontrastbetween
WesternbeingandEasternnothingness,andafterlookingatsomeoftheEasternsourcesoftheideaof
absolutenothingness,Iwilldiscussthetopological,dialectical,phenomenologicalandexistential
philosophiesofabsolutenothingnessdevelopedbyNishidaKitar,TanabeHajime,NishitaniKeiji,andmost
recentlybyUedaShizuteru(b.1926).Thefourthsectionwilladdressthepoliticalcontroversysurrounding
thewartimewritingsandactivitiesoftheKyotoSchool.ThefirstwaveofattentionpaidtotheKyotoSchool
intheWestinthe1980slargelyignoredthepoliticaldebatethathadlongsurroundedtheSchoolinJapan.
WhilethislacunainWesternscholarshipwasamendedinthe1990s,notablywiththepublicationofRude
Awakenings:Zen,theKyotoSchoolandtheQuestionofNationalism(Heisig/Maraldo1994),thepolitical
venturesandmisadventuresoftheKyotoSchoolremainahighlycontentioussubject(seeMaraldo2006and
GotoJones2008).InthefinalsectionofthisarticleIwillreturntothequestionofthecrossculturallegacy
oftheKyotoSchoolasagroupofthinkersthatstoodbetweenorperhapsmovedbeyondEastandWest.

2.IdentityandMembership:WhoBelongstoWhat?
2.1AHistoryofExternalNaming

TherehasbeenconsiderablediscussionsurroundingthequestionofhowtodefinetheKyotoSchool,and
whotoincludeasitsmembers.ByallaccountsNishidaKitaristheSchool'soriginator.Yetitwasneverhis
intentiontoinstituteaschoolbasedonhisownthoughtinfactheisreportedtohavealwaysencouraged
independentthinkinginhisstudents.Moreover,unlikePlato'sAcademyortheFrankfurtSchool'sInstitute
forSocialResearch,theKyotoSchoolthinkersneverfoundedanacademicinstitutionorformedanofficial
organization.TheirassociationwasinitiallybasedmerelyonthefactthattheystudiedandtaughtatKyoto
UniversityanddevelopedtheirthinkingundertheinfluenceofNishidaaswellasindialogueanddebatewith
himandwithoneanother.IndeedthenameKyotoSchoolonlycameintousebythemembers
themselvesmuchlater,whenatall.

Namesdonotonlytelluswhoorwhatsomethingistheyalsotelluswhoorwhatsomethingisnot.
Definitionsnotonlyseektorevealaninternalessencetheyalsodrawalineofdemarcationbetweeninside
andoutside.Itisthusnotsurprisingthatnamesanddefinitionsoftenhavetheirorigininlabelsappended
fromwithout.Theselabelsmaysubsequentlydegenerateintostereotypesor,conversely,theymaybe
positivelyappropriatedandredefinedbythegroupitself.Bothoftheseprocessescanbeseeninthehistory
oftheKyotoSchool.

ThenameKyotoSchool,infact,originatedfromwithoutor,morepreciselyspeaking,itoriginatedfrom
thefringesoftheSchoolitself.TosakaJun(19001945),astudentofNishida'sandTanabe's,coinedthe
expressionin1932inreferencetoNishida,TanabeandMikiKiyoshi(18971945)aspurportedly
representativeoftheepitomeofbourgeoisphilosophyinJapan(seeHeisig2001,4).Tosaka'sown
developingthoughthadanexplicitlymaterialistandMarxistorientation,andinhisarticlehecriticizedthe
Schoolaspromulgatingabourgeoisidealismthatignoresmaterialhistoricalconditionsandissuesofsocial
praxis.Tosaka'scritiquehadanimpactonthesubsequentdevelopmentoftheKyotoSchool'sphilosophies,
andironicallyTosakahimselfistodayconsideredbysometobelong,togetherwithMiki,totheleftwing
oftheKyotoSchool(seeHattori2004).

Thesecondsignificantmomentinthenaming(orlabeling)oftheKyotoSchoolcamemoreclearlyfrom
without,andinanevenmorepoliticallychargedcontext.AsNishitaniwastorecollectyearslater:The
nameKyotoSchoolisanamejournalistsusedinconnectionwithdiscussionsthatfriendsofmineandI
heldimmediatelybeforeandduringthewar(NKCXI,207seeHeisig2001,277).Nishitaniisreferring
heretoaseriesofsymposiathataddressedthequestionofthemeaninganddirectionofthePacificWarand
anothersymposiumonthequestionofovercomingmodernity.Thesecontroversialsymposiawillbe
discussedinsubsection4.3ofthisarticle.Inhisretrospectivecomments,pennedin1977,Nishitanigoeson
tosaythatbythattimethenameKyotoSchoolhadcometobeusedbyAmericansandotherstoindicate
purelyaschoolofthought.

Sincethe1970sthenameKyotoSchoolhasgraduallyrecovereditsunderlyingphilosophicalring,which
forseveraldecadesinJapan(especiallyoutsideofKyoto)hadbeendrownedoutbyitspoliticalovertones.
ThisrecoveryhappenedfirstofallintheWest,wherescholarsneglectedthepoliticalcontroversiesintheir
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enthusiasticreceptionoftheSchool'sphilosophiesofreligion.Whilethepoliticalcontroversiesreturnedwith
avengeancetoWesternacademiaacoupleofdecadeslater,inakindofpendulumswingtothehypercritical,
theinitialpositiveattentionfromtheWesthadbythenhelpedtorehabilitatetheimageoftheKyotoSchool
backhomeinJapan.

FujitaMasakatsusuggeststhatthequestionofdefiningtheidentityoftheKyotoSchoolhasoftenbeena
morepressingissueforWesternscholarsthanfortheJapanesethemselves.Hespeculatesthattherearetwo
reasonsforthis.OneisthattheKyotoSchoolneverreallyhadanynoteworthycompetingschoolsoforiginal
thoughtwithinJapanwithwhichtocontrastitself,andoveragainstwhichtoexplicitlydefineitsown
identity.Thesecondreasonisthat,whileWesternerstendtodrawoutandfocusonthesharedgeneral
characteristicsoftheSchool'sthinkers,usuallyincontrastwiththegeneralcharacteristicsofWestern
thought,forJapanesescholarsoftheKyotoSchoolthedifferencesbetweenthevariousthinkersoftenappear
insharperreliefthandotheirsharedcommonalities(Fujita2001,ii).

Inanycase,justastheformationoftheKyotoSchool'sideastookplacebetweenWesternandEastern
horizonsofthought,sohasthescholarlystudyand,tosomeextent,eventhedefiningoftheKyotoSchool
takenplacebetweenscholarsinJapanontheonehandandthoseinEuropeandNorthAmericaontheother.
SinceoneofthecommoncharacteristicsoftheKyotoSchoolphilosophersistheirattempttosetJapanand
theirownthoughtinthecontextofthewiderworld,itisfittingthat,withtheincreasinglyinternationalstudy
oftheKyotoSchool,theirthoughtisfinallybecomingwhatitalwaysintendedtobe,namely,Japanese
philosophyintheworld(seeHeisig2004Fujita/Davis2005Davis/Schroeder/Wirth2011).

2.2TheQuestionofDefinition
Atthestartofthetwentyfirstcentury,twoimportantvolumesappearedinJapanwiththenameKyoto
Schoolintheirtitles:ThePhilosophyoftheKyotoSchool,editedbyFujitaMasakatsu(2001),which
consistsofananthologyoftextsbyeightKyotoSchoolthinkerstogetherwithanessayoneachonebya
contemporaryscholarandTheThoughtoftheKyotoSchool,editedbyhashiRysuke(2004),which
containsfiveessaysdetailingthecontroversialhistoryofthenameKyotoSchoolaswellassevenessays
onpotentialcontributionsoftheirthoughttovariousfieldsofcontemporaryphilosophy.Whilethetwobooks
complementoneotherinmanyrespects,theyneverthelesssuggestsomewhatdifferentapproachesto
definingtheschool.

FujitaagreeswithTakedaAtsushi'sworkingdefinitionoftheKyotoSchoolas:theintellectualnetworkthat
wascenteredonNishidaandTanabe,andmutuallyformedbythosewhoweredirectlyinfluencedinbotha
personalandscholarlymannerbythem(Fujita2001,iiand23435).Accordingly,Fujita'sbookfeatures
suchthinkersasTosakaandMiki,aswellasmoreunanimouslyacceptedfiguressuchasHisamatsuShinichi
(18891980)andNishitani.AsFujitapointsout,therelativelyopendefinitionoftheKyotoSchoolassucha
scholarlyandinterpersonalnetworkhastheadvantageofhighlightingthemutualityoftheflowof
influencebetweenitsmembers,aswellasthefactthatmembershipintheunofficialgroupdidnotpreclude
seriousdisagreementwiththethoughtofNishidaorTanabe.Whilecriticalexchangesdidsometimesleadto
severedpersonalrelations(NishidaandTanabeinfamouslystoppedspeakingtooneanother),thiswasnot
alwaysthecase(NishitaniandTosakaremainedongoodpersonaltermsdespitetheirpoliticaland
philosophicaldifferences).Andineithercasemutualcriticismwasphilosophicallytakenseriously,andit
frequentlyprovidedimpetustofurtherdevelopmentsineachmember'sthought.Inthissense,accordingto
Fujita,anacceptanceofmutualcriticismcouldwellbeconsideredoneofthedefiningcharacteristicsofthe
School.

OnepointmadebyTosakaearlyon,apointoftenrepeatedtoday,isthatwithoutTanabe'scritical
appropriationofNishida'sthoughttherewouldbenotraditionoftheKyotoSchoolwewouldhaveonly
successorsofNishidaPhilosophyandnotagenuineschoolofmutuallyrelatedyetindependentthinkers.
Thequestionremains,however,justhowindependentathinkercanbewithrespecttoNishida'sthoughtand
stillbeconsideredamemberoftheSchool.ForevenwhensubsequentfiguresintheSchoolsharply
questionedcertainaspectsofNishida'sthought,theytendedatthesametimetoappropriateandcreatively
developothersharedconceptsandmotifs.(Amovementofselfcriticaldevelopmentcaninfactbeseenin
theceaselessprogressionofNishida'sownthinking.Nishidaconsideredhimselftobeaminerwhonever
managedtostayputinoneplacelongenoughtorefinetheorehehadunearthed.)

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HencetheKyotoSchool,perhapslikeanyvibrantschoolofthought,shouldbeseenasaclusteroforiginal
thinkerswho,whilenotuncriticallysubscribingtoanyprescribeddogma,neverthelesscametoshare,and
debate,anumberofcommonmotifsaswellasbasicconceptsandterminology.Asweshallsee,themost
fundamentaloftheirsharedanddisputedconceptsisthatofabsolutenothingness,aconceptthathas,in
fact,mostoftenbeenusedasathematicaxisfordefiningtheSchool.

IncontrasttoFujita,hashiexplicitlyquestionstheappropriatenessofdefiningtheKyotoSchoolmerelyin
termsofanetworkofpersonalandscholarlyrelations.Accordingtohashi,inorderforagroupofthinkers
toformagenuineschoolofphilosophy,theremustbethecommonpossessionorformationofathought
(hashi2004,9).Forhashi,thiscommonthoughtoftheKyotoSchoolisthatofabsolutenothingness,and
heaccordinglysuggeststhefollowingasadefinitionoftheSchool:agroupofphilosophersspanning
severalgenerationswhodevelopedtheirthoughtinseveralareasofphilosophywiththeideaofnothingness
asabasis(ibid.,10seehashi2001,13).WhilehedoesincludeHattoriKenji'sessayontheleftwingof
theKyotoSchoolastheopeningchapterofhisTheThoughtoftheKyotoSchool,previouslyhashi
explicitlyexcludedMikifromtheSchoolonaccountofhisprincipallyMarxistsorientations(hashi1990,
12).(Wemightnotehereinpassingthat,inhismajorlaterperiodwork,TheLogicofImagination,Mikidoes
affirmtheNishidainspiredideathatnothingnessiswhattranscendsthesubjectiveandtheobjectiveand
envelopesthem(quotedinFujita2011,315).)

AmongWesternscholars,JohnMaraldohasmostthoroughlyprobedthequestionofKyotoSchoolidentity
andmembership.Heisolatessixcriteriathatscholarshaveusedtoincludeandexcludethinkersfromthe
KyotoSchool:(1)connectionwithNishida(2)associationwithKyotoUniversity(3)stancetoward
JapaneseandEasternintellectualtraditions(4)stancetowardtheinterrelatedmattersofMarxism,thenation
state,andthePacificWar(5)stancetowardBuddhismandtowardreligioningeneraland(6)stancetoward
thenotionofabsolutenothingness.Maraldoshowshoweachoneofthesecriteriahavebeenusedinvarious
ways,consciouslyorunconsciously,sincethe1930stoeitherpromotethephilosophicalsignificanceor
disparagethepoliticalideologyoftheKyotoSchool(Maraldo2005,3338).

Iwouldaddtwomorerelatedandinterrelatedcriteria.Oneisanessentiallyambivalentstance(i.e.,neither
simplerejectionnorsimpleacceptance)towardWesternphilosophyandtheWestingeneral.Forexample,
NishidaandothersundertakeacriticalreceptionofWesternontologyinordertodevelopanEastern
meontologyorlogicofnothingness,andattempttocombineaWesternlogicofthingswithanEastern
logicofheartmind.Iwilldiscusssuchissuesinsection3ofthisarticle.

AnothercriterionthatcouldbeusedtodefinetheSchoolisanessentiallyambivalentattitudetowardWestern
modernity(ortowardmodernizationasWesternization).Acriticalstancetowardaunilateralglobalizationof
Westernmodernity,astancewhichatthesametimeacceptsinpartitsunavoidabilityandinsomerespects
evenaffirmsitsnecessity,gaverisetotheideaofovercomingmodernityanovercomingthatwouldtake
placenotbyretreatingfromWesternmodernity,butbygoingthroughandbeyondit.Thisgoingthroughand
beyond,moreover,wouldnotsimplybeamatterofgoingfurtherdowntheroadoflinearprogressitwould
entailahermeneuticalaswellasultimatelya(me)ontologicalandexistentialregress,aradicalstepback.
FortheKyotoSchool,acriticalandcreativeretrievalofthetraditionsoftheEast,thoseofEastAsian
MahynaBuddhisminparticular,isthoughttoenabletheradicalreligiousandphilosophicaltrans
descendencenecessarytomovethroughandbeyondthelimitsandproblemsofWesternmodernity.

Thisideaofovercomingmodernityhasproventobebothoneofthemorestimulatingandoneofthemore
controversialaspectsoftheirthought.ForsomeitpromisestocontributeanimportantEastAsianperspective
tothecurrentdebatesoverpostmodernisminphilosophyandpostcolonialisminculturestudies.Yetbecause
theKyotoSchool'sideasofovercomingmodernitydevelopedinconjunctionwiththeirwartimepolitical
theories,theorieswhichtypicallysawthenationofJapanasplayingakeyroleinthehistoricalmovement
throughandbeyondWesternmodernity,ithasalsoproventobeoneofthemoreoftencriticizedaspectsof
theirthought.(ItisnoteworthyinthisregardthatcontemporaryJapaneseepigonesof(Western)
postmodernismhaveforthemostparteschewedmakingtheconnectionbetweentheiradoptionofrecent
Westernselfcriticismofmodernity/EurocentrismandtheKyotoSchool'searliercritiqueofthese.)Inany
case,itistruethatevenaftertheKyotoSchoolceasedformulatingtheideaofovercomingmodernityin
politicalterms,theidealivesonintheirpostwarphilosophiesofreligionandculture.Hence,aradical
problematizationofWesternmodernitycanbeconsideredanimportantaspectoftheiridentityasaschoolof
thought.
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AnothersignificantWesterncontributortothequestionoftheKyotoSchool'sidentityisJamesHeisig,who
succeededJanVanBragtastheheadoftheNanzanInstituteforReligionandCultureinNagoya,aninstitute
whichhasforseveraldecadesnowbeenatthecenterofinternationalresearchontheKyotoSchool.Inhis
book,PhilosophersofNothingness:AnEssayontheKyotoSchool,Heisigsuggeststhatwefollowthelead
ofTakeuchiYoshinori(19132002)anddefinetheSchoolbytriangulatingitaroundthethreeleading
figuresofNishida,Tanabe,andNishitani(Heisig2001,37and27578).

ItisindeedthesethreefiguresthatformthecoreofwhathasbecomeknownastheKyotoSchool,andinthis
articleIwillaccordinglyfocusmyattentionprimarilyonthem,ifalsoattimesonUedaShizuteruasthe
currentleadingfigureoftheSchool.Itshouldneverthelessbekeptinmindthattheseareonlythreeorfour
ofamuchwidergroupoforiginalthinkers,somesquarelywithinandsomemoreorlessontheperipheryof
theKyotoSchool.

2.3MembersandAssociates
hashiRysuke'sthesis,advancedalreadyinhislandmarkGermananthology,DiePhilosophiederKyto
Schule(1990,revisededition2012),isthattheKyotoSchoolshouldbeunderstoodasagroupofthinkers
involvedinapluralisticyetcooperativeandsustainedattempttothinkonthebasisofanideaof
nothingnessorabsolutenothingness.ThisdistinguishestheirthoughtfromthatoftraditionalWestern
ontologybasedontheconceptofbeing.Withthisdefinitioninmind,hashiliststhecentralmembersof
theKyotoSchoolaccordingtogenerationasfollows:NishidaandTanabemakeupthefirstgeneration
Hisamatsu,Nishitani,KsakaMasaaki(19001969),ShimomuraToratar(19001995),KyamaIwao
(19051993),andSuzukiShigetaka(19071988)makeupthesecondgenerationandTakeuchiYoshinori
(19132002),TsujimuraKichi(19222010),andUedaShizuterumakeupthethirdgeneration.Elsewhere
healsosuggeststhatthepsychologistKimuraBin(b.1931)couldbeconsideredpartofthethirdgeneration
oftheSchool,particularlyifweshiftthecriterionofdefinitionfrominterpersonalrelationstoagenealogyof
thought(hashi2004,9).

Ofthethirdgeneration,UedaShizuteru,whohasdoneextensiveoriginalworkonMeisterEckhart,Zen,and
Nishida,isconsideredbymosttobethecentralfigure.TsujimuraKichi,whostudiedunderHeideggeras
wellasunderHisamatsuandNishitani,hasprovocativelyandinfluentiallywrittenonHeidegger'sthought
fromaZenandKyotoSchoolperspective.AbeMasao(19152006),aformerstudentofHisamatsu's,isan
importantrepresentativeoftheKyotoSchoolandcontributortointerreligiousdialogueinNorthAmerica,
althoughheislesswellknowninJapanitself.IfweweretoviewtheKyotoSchoolaslivingpastitsthird
generation,hashiRysuke(b.1944),aprolificphilosopherinhisownright,whoseworksinbothJapanese
andGermanaddressabroadrangeofphilosophicalissues,wouldundoubtedlycountasacentralfigureofits
fourthgeneration.OtherrecentaffiliatesoftheSchool,whocouldbeseenasbelongingtoitsfourth
generation,includeHaseSht,HorioTsutomu,mineAkira,FujitaMasakatsu,MoriTetsur,Kawamura
Eiko,MatsumuraHideo,NakaokaNarifumi,OkadaKatsuaki,KosakaKunitsugu,andKetaMasako.Ifthe
Schoolshowspromiseoflivingontofuturegenerations,itiswithyoungscholarssuchasAkitomiKatsuya,
MinobeHitoshi,ItabashiYjin,andSugimotoKichi,aswellaswithahandfulofnonJapanese
philosopherswhohavestudiedwithmembersofthethirdandfourthgenerationsoftheSchool.

YetweappeartobeataturningpointinthehistoryoftheKyotoSchool,asisreflectedincurrent
retrospectiveattemptstodefineit.WithUeda'sandthenHase'sretirementsfromKyotoUniversity,onthe
onehand,andwiththecreationin1996ofaDepartmentoftheHistoryofJapanesePhilosophyatKyoto
University(seethewebsitelistedbelow)undertheheadofFujitaMasakatsuandnowUeharaMayukoonthe
other,theKyotoSchoolisbecomingasmuchanobjectofscholarshipasitisalivingtradition.However,as
withmostschoolsofphilosophy,thelinebetweencriticalscholarshipandcreativedevelopmentishardlya
clearone,andinpracticetheretrospectivestudyoftheKyotoSchooloftenblendstogetherwithitsfurther
unfoldingasavibrantschoolofthought.

ItisalsoimportanttopointoutthattodayinJapantheKyotoSchoolisnotonlystudiedinKyoto.Sincethe
appearanceofTokyobasedphilosopherNakamuraYji'sfirstbookonNishidain1983,Nishidaandthe
KyotoSchoolhavesteadilybeguntoreceiveseriousattentiononceagainfromscholarsandstudentsinareas
ofJapanoutsideofKyoto.WorthspecialmentioninthisregardisKosakaKunitsugu,whoselucidand
prolificscholarshiponNishidaandothershasdoneagreatdealforthesympatheticyetsobertextualanalysis
oftheKyotoSchool.ThecreationoftheNishidaPhilosophyAssociationin2004(seethewebsitelisted
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below)hashelpedinaugurateaneweraofcooperativeexchangebetweenscholarsfromvariousareasof
Japanaswellasfromabroad.

Toreturntothequestionofmembership,considerationshouldalsobegiventothosewhocouldbereferred
toasrelatedthinkersorassociatemembersoftheKyotoSchool.Thewidestunderstandings(or
misunderstandings[3])oftheKyotoSchoolincludeinitanumberofthinkerswhohaveamoreorless
peripheralrelationtotheinnercircleoftheSchool.Ontheonehand,thereisthecaseofthewellknownZen
figure,D.T.Suzuki(SuzukiDaisetsu)(18701966).Suzukimaintainedalongpersonalrelationshipwith
Nishidasincetheirdaysasschoolmates.HenotonlyhelpedintroducetheyoungNishidatothepracticeof
Zen,hisarticulationofMahynaBuddhistthoughtisalsoacknowledgedbyNishidaashavinginfluenced
theformationofcertainkeyideasinhislastessayonthephilosophyofreligion.ButSuzukiwhois
justifiablyfamousinhisownrightfor,amongotherthings,helpingintroduceZentotheWestwasneither
trainedasaphilosophernorwasheassociatedwithKyotoUniversityandthusheisperhapsbestthoughtof
asacloselyrelatedthinkertotheSchool.

ThentherearethecasesofWatsujiTetsur(18891960)andKukiShz(18881941).Bothofthese
philosopherswerebroughttoKyotoUniversitybyNishida,andbothdevelopedphilosophieswhichwere
moreorlessinfluencedbyNishida'sthought(seeMaraldo2005,34and52).Andyet,boththeirthoughtand
theiractivitiesremainedtooindependenttocountthemamongtheinnercircleoftheSchool.Itshouldbe
keptinmind,however,thatthesetwoassociatesinparticulararefirstratephilosophersintheirownright,
whoseoriginalworkoutshinesthatofmanyofthelessoriginalthoughfullfledgedmembersoftheSchool.
Watsuji'snoveltheoryofcultureandclimate(fdo),togetherwithhismajorworkontheethicsof
betweenness(aidagara),andKuki'scombinationoflogicalrigorandexistentialinsightinhismajor
writingsontheproblemofcontingency,togetherwithhisprovocativeworksonJapaneseaesthetics(notably
hishermeneuticalphenomenologyofiki),haveeachmadelastingcontributionstophilosophyandare
worthyofinternationalscholarlyattention.

Finally,thereisthematterofthinkerswhohavedevelopedtheirideasmoreorlessundertheinfluenceof
NishidaandothermembersoftheKyotoSchool.Acompletelistofthisgroupofinfluencedthinkers
wouldbelong,butitwouldincludesuchnamesasTakahashiSatomi,TakizawaKatsumi,MutaiRisaku,
YuasaYasuo,KimuraBin,SakabeMegumi,andNakamuraYjir.Anumberofnonphilosophers,suchas
theworldfamousarchitectAndTadao(TadaoAndo),whodesignedtheIshikawaNishidaKitaroMuseum
ofPhilosophy(seethewebsitelistedbelow),havealsobeeninfluencedbyNishidaandtheKyotoSchool.

3.AbsoluteNothingness:GivingPhilosophicalFormtotheFormless
HavingdiscussedissuesofdefinitionandmembershipoftheKyotoSchool,wearenowpreparedtopursue
thequestionofwhatunifiestheirthoughtasaschoolofphilosophy.Iwillherefollowthesuggestionof
hashi,Nishitani,andotherrepresentativesoftheKyotoSchoolitself,andfocusonthesharedandat
timesdisputedideaofabsolutenothingness(zettaimu).[4]

3.1WesternBeingvs.EasternNothingness?Ontologyvs.Meontology?
NishitaniwrotethefollowingwithregardtoNishidaandTanabe:[Their]philosophiesshareadistinctive
andcommonbasisthatsetsthemapartfromtraditionalWesternphilosophy:absolutenothingness.Clearly
theideaofabsolutenothingnesscametoawarenessinthespiritualityoftheEastbutthefactthatithasalso
beenpositedasafoundationforphilosophicalthoughtrepresentsanewstepvirtuallywithoutcounterpartin
thehistoryofWesternphilosophy(NKCIX,22526Nishitani1991,161).

FirstphilosophyintheWesterntraditionisontology,whichasksthequestionofbeingquabeing,and
tendstoanswerthisquestioneitherintermsofthemostuniversalbeingnessorintermsofthehighest
being.ForAristotle,theessenceofbeingwassubstance,ambiguouslythoughteitherastheparticular
(Socrates)ortheconcreteuniversalform(humanbeing),andthehighestbeingwastheunmovedmover.
GreekontologylaterinfluencedtheChristiantheologicaltraditiontothinkofGodasthehighestbeing,
suchthatthedualthreadsoftheWesterntraditionasawholetookshapeaswhatHeideggercallsonto
theology.Hence,thefundamentalphilosophicalquestionoftheontotheologicalmainstreamoftheWestis,
Whatisbeing?Ontheotherhand,thecounterquestionwhichtheKyotoSchoolfindsintheEastis,What
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isnothingness?Inplaceofanontology,firstphilosophyintheEastismoreoftenameontology:a
philosophyofnonbeingornothingness.

Perhapsweshouldsaymulogyratherthanmeontologyfor,strictlyspeaking,theGreekmeon,non
being,shouldbetranslatedintoJapaneseashiu.WhatIamtranslatingasnothingnesss,mu,iswritten
withasinglecharacterratherthanasanegation(hi)ofbeing(u).Thisiscrucialsincethenothingnesswith
whichtheyareconcernedisnotthesimplenegationorprivationofbeing.ItisclosertowhatHeidegger
meansbybeing.Attentivetowhathecallstheontologicaldifferencebetweenbeing(dasSein)and
beings(dasSeiende),Heideggernotesthatwithrespecttobeings,understoodasdeterminatethings,being
canonlyappearasnothing.Wefailtoattendtothenothingofbeingwhenwethinkonlyofthings,and
especiallywhenwethinkofthinkingasamerecalculationofpredeterminedbeings.Heideggerthuscalls
thenothing(dasNichts)theveilofbeing.Beingcannotbutappeartousasnothing,insofarasweknow
onlyofbeings.YetitisdasSeinordasNichtswhichgrantsanopenplace,aclearing(Lichtung),forbeings
toshowthemselvesinthefirstplace.Butthisclearingletsbeingsbebywithdrawingitselffromview.Justas
nature(phusis)lovestohide(Heraclitus),beingletsbeingscometopresencebyitselfwithdrawinginto
absenceorselfconcealment(seeHeidegger1975,Vol.9,10322andVol.65,24647).

TanabestudiedwithHeideggerintheearly1920s.(Infact,uponreturningtoJapanin1924,Tanabewasthe
firstscholarintheworldtowriteanarticleonHeidegger'sthought.)Whenhelaterwrotethefollowing,
TanabenodoubthadHeidegger's1929WhatisMetaphysics?lectureinmind:Allscienceneedstotake
someentityorotherasitsobjectofstudy.Thepointofcontactisalwaysinbeing,notinnothing.The
disciplinethathastodowithnothingnessisphilosophy(THZVI,156seeHeisig2001,121).

HeideggerwasofcoursenotthefirstWesternphilosophertoaskafterthatwhichisradicallyotherthan
beings,orevenbeyondbeingassuch.[5]Forexample,Tanabecouldhavealsofoundsupportfortheidea
thatphilosophyinvestigatesnothingnessinthefollowingpassagefromHegel:DasErstederPhilosophie
aberist,dasabsoluteNichtszuerdenken[Yetthefirsttaskofphilosophyistoconceiveofabsolute
nothingness](quotedfromHegel'sGlaubenundWisseninhashi1984,203).TheKyotoSchoolmight
evenbethoughtofasrecoveringasuggestionfromoneofthefirstPresocraticphilosophers,Anaximander:
namely,tothinkfinitebeingsasdeterminations,ordelimitations,oftheindefiniteortheunlimited(to
apeiron).

Moreover,asKyotoSchoolthinkersfrequentlydopointout,Christiannegativetheologiansandmystics,
mostnotablyMeisterEckhart,attimesmakeuseofthenotionofthenothingtorefertothatwhich
transcendsallconceptsandalloppositions.ForEckhart,nothing(niht)wasonewayofindicatingthe
Godhead(gtheit)beyondGoddelimitedasapersonalbeing(seeEckehart1963,328).Nihthereisan
expression,atthelimitsoflanguage,whichattemptstoindicatethenothingnessofindistinctfullnessfrom
whichflowalloppositionsandrelations(Schrmann1978,168).Eckhartspeaksofabreakthrough,not
onlybeyondtheego,butalsobeyondGodHimself,abreakthrough,thatis,toanabyssalGodhead
understoodasthesilentdesertintowhichnodistinctionevergazed,ofFather,Son,orHolyGhost
(Eckehart1963,316).Analogously,Nishidawritesthatwhenwetrulyenterthoroughlyintothe
consciousnessofabsolutenothingness,thereisneitherInorGod(NKZV,182seeNishida1958,137).

NishitaniaffirmsEckhart'sintimationsofaGodheadofabsolutenothingness,eventhoughhenotesthatthis
ismarkedlydistantfromorthodoxChristianfaith,whichlimitstheconceptofnothingnesstotherelative
nothingnessexpressedinthenihilumofcreatioexnihilo,thatis,totheabsoluteprivationofbeingoutof
whichthehighestbeingcreateslesserbeings(NKCX,75Nishitani1982,66alsoseeNKCVII).Yet
Nishitani'sstudentandEckhartscholarUedaShizuteru,despiteprofoundappreciationforEckhart'sthought
anditsnearnesstoZen,arguesintheendthatEckhart'snothingness,likethatofnegativetheologyin
general,stillpointstoaninexpressiblyhigherbeing(seeUSSVIII,146).CriticallyadaptingHeidegger's
expression,wemightsaythatthenothingisstillunderstoodastheveilofthisinexpressiblyhigherbeing.
BothNishitaniandUedaultimatelylooktoZenforanothingnesssoabsolutethat,inthoroughlynegating
anytracesofoppositiontobeings(i.e.,asahigherbeingtranscendingworldlybeings),itisparadoxically
foundfullyintheconcretefactsandactivitiesofthehereandnow(seeUSSVIII,5ff.).

hashistresses,however,thatneithertheBuddhisttraditionnortheKyotoSchoolshouldbethoughtofas
havingapatentontheradicalthinkingofnothingness.Infact,heargues,thisthoughtslowlycametothe
forewithinWesternphilosophyitself,aprocessthatindeedsetthestageforKyotoSchoolcontributionsto
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contemporaryphilosophy(hashi2004,1213).Nishitanihadalreadyexploredanumberofresonant
notionsofnothingness,notonlyintheNeoplatonicandChristianmysticaltraditions,butalsoin19thand
20thcenturyWesternphilosopherssuchasNietzscheandHeidegger(seeNKCVIIINishitani1990).And
yet,hereagainNishitanifindsresiduesofanontologicalbias,whereakindofrelativenothingnessis
positedaseitherasimplenegationoforasaveilforbeing.NishitaniultimatelyconcludesthatNietzsche
succeededonlyinexpressingastandpointofrelativeabsolutenothingnessandeveninHeidegger,he
criticallysuggests,tracesoftherepresentationofnothingnessassomethingthatisnothingnessstill
remain(NKCX,75and108Nishitani1982,66and96).[6]

Inanycase,itisfairtosaythattheKyotoSchoolthinkersgenerallyconsiderthepurestsourcesfortheidea
ofabsolutenothingnesstolieinthetraditionsoftheEast.Hisamatsuwentsofarastospeakofabsolute
nothingnessasorientalnothingness(Hisamatsu1960)thoughitisimportanttobearinmindthathisclaim
isthatthisideawasfirstclearlydiscoveredinthetraditionsofEast.Absolutenothingnessisbynomeans
onlyrelevanttoEasterncultures,anymorethanin1500CEtheearthwasonlyroundintheWest.Moreover,
iftheideaofabsolutenothingnesscametoawarenessinthespiritualityoftheEast,asNishitanisays,the
philosophyofabsolutenothingnessisgenerallyconsideredtobetheKyotoSchool'sowncontributiontothe
contemporaryworldofthoughtopenedupbythemeetingofEastandWest.

NishidawhocouldhardlybeaccusedofunderestimatingwhatJapanhadtolearnfromWesternphilosophy
alsospokeattimesinverygeneraltermsofEasternnothingnessincontrastwithWesternbeing.Inhis
essay,TheTypesofCultureoftheClassicalPeriodsofEastandWestSeenfromaMetaphysical
Perspective,hewrote:HowthenarewetodistinguishbetweenthetypesofcultureoftheWestandEast
fromametaphysicalpointofview?Ithinkwecandothisbydividingthemintothat[i.e.,thecultureofthe
West]whichconsidersthegroundofrealitytobebeing,andthat[i.e.,thecultureoftheEast]which
considersthisgroundtobenothingness.InGreekphilosophy,hegoesontosay,thatwhichhasformand
determinationwasregardedastherealoreven,asinPlato,reality,thatwhichhastruebeing,was
understoodastheForms.JudeoChristianculture,howeverradicallydifferentinvariouswaysitwasfrom
Greekculture,anddespitenegativetheology'sindicationsofaDeusabsconditusasakindofnothingness,
neverthelessprimarilyconsideredthepersonofGodasthemostperfectbeingtobethebasisofreality.In
radicalcontrasttoboththeGreekandJudeoChristianoriginsofWesternculture,Indianculture,likethatof
ChinaandJapan,tooktheprofoundestideaofnothingnessasitsbasis(NKZVII,42933seeNishida
1970,23740).

Intheclosinglinesoftheprefacetohis1926book,FromThatWhichActstoThatWhichSees,abookmany
scholarsviewasthebeginningofNishidaPhilosophyproper,wefindthefollowingfamousand
programmaticlines:Itgoeswithoutsayingthatthereismuchtoadmire,andmuchtolearnfrom,inthe
impressiveachievementsofWesternculture,whichthoughtformasbeingandthegivingofformasgood.
However,doestherenotliehiddenatthebaseofourEasternculture,preservedandpasseddownbyour
ancestorsforseveralthousandyears,somethingwhichseestheformoftheformlessandhearsthevoiceof
thevoiceless?Ourheartsandmindsendlesslyseekthissomethinganditismywishtoprovidethisquest
withaphilosophicalfoundation(NKZIV,6).

3.2TheEasternBackgroundfortheIdeaofAbsoluteNothingness
BeforelookingmorespecificallyathowNishidaandothermembersoftheKyotoSchoolattempttogive
philosophicalformtotheformless,itwillbehelpfultolookatsomeofthethreadsinEasterntraditionson
whichtheKyotoSchoolthinkersareexplicitlyandimplicitlydrawingastheyweavetheirtextsonabsolute
nothingness.

TheirexplicitreferencesareprimarilytoMahynaBuddhism,especiallytotheEastAsianBuddhistschools
ofZen(predominantlytheRinzaitraditionbutalsonotablyDgenofSt)and/orPureLand(predominantly
Shinran'sShin).ThekeySanskritterminMahynaBuddhismhereisnyat(emptinesskin
Japanese).WiththenoteworthyexceptionofthelaterNishitani,however,theKyotoSchooltendstofavor
theChineseglyphmu(nothingnesswuinChinese),whichisfoundpredominantlyinZen,andwhich
reflectstheearlyattempttomatchtermswithDaoisminthetranslationandinterpretivedevelopmentof
BuddhisminChina.LetusbrieflyexaminebothoftheseAsiansourcesfortheKyotoSchool'sphilosophies
ofabsolutenothingness,nyatandwu/mu.[7]
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InMahynaBuddhismnyatrefersfirstofalltothefactthatallthingscomeintobeingin
interdependentorigination(Sanskrit:prattyasamutpdaJapanese:engi),andtheyarethereforeempty
ofanyindependentsubstantialselfnatureorownbeing(Sanskrit:svabhva).Thisthoughtiscloselytied
tothebasicBuddhistthesisofnoselfornonego(Sanskrit:antmanJapanese:muga).Allbeings,
includingtheego,areinterconnectedandinflux.Psychologically,nyatrefersalsotothereleasement
fromallattachmenttobeings,fromallreificationandwillfulappropriationofthem.Suchattachmentsare
bothbasedonandinturnsupporttheprimaryattachmenttothefabricatedego,sincetheegobothstrivesto
possessandisunwittinglypossessedbyitsreificationofbeings.Awakeningtotheemptinessofallthings,to
theirlackofsubstantialownbeingoregoity(Japanese:shogymuga),thusfreesonebothfromanego
centeredandreifiedviewofthings,andfromtheillusionofthesubstantialegoitself.

However,ifthemovementofnegationstopshereataonesidednegationofbeing(i.e.,atnegationofthe
independentsubstantialrealityofthingsandtheego),andiftheideaofemptinessisnotitselfemptied,[8]
thenwearelefteitherwithapessimisticnihilismorwithanironicallyreifiedviewofnyat.Theseare
whattheBuddhisttraditioncallsnyatsickness(Japanese:kby).Truenyatmustbeunderstoodto
dynamicallynegatetheveryoppositionofbeingand(relative)nothingness(seeNakamura1975,Vol.1,
278).Hence,inMahynawefindanexplicitreturnthroughagreatnegationofareified
misunderstandingofbeingtoagreataffirmationofanonreifiedunderstandingofbeing.Emptiness
thoroughlyunderstoodisnothingseparatefromoropposedtobeingproperlyunderstood.Astheoften
chantedlinesoftheHeartSutraputit:[phenomenal]formisemptinessemptinessisalso[phenomenal]
formemptinessisnootherthanformformisnootherthanemptiness(seeBercholz/Kohn1993,155).The
famousMahynaBuddhistphilosopherofnyatNgrjuna(ca.150250CE)wentsofarasto
provocativelystate:Thelimits(i.e.,realm)ofnirvnaarethelimitsofsamsra.Betweenthetwo,also,
thereisnottheslightestdifferencewhatsoever(Inada1993,158).Inotherwords,nirvnaisneithera
nihilisticextinctionofnoratranscendentescapefromthephenomenalworld(samsra)itisratheran
enlightenedmannerofbeingintheworldhereandnow(seeGarfield1995,332).Thisradicalreaffirmation
ofthephenomenalworldwasparticularlystressedinEastAsiandevelopmentsofMahynaBuddhism,
wherewefindsuchremarkablyaffirmativephrasesas:trueemptiness,marvelousbeing(Japanese:shink
myu).

InhismaturewritingsNishitaniexplicitlyemploystheMahynatermnyat(eventhoughhenever
disavowsthetermNishidacoined,absolutenothingness)inhisattempttothinkawaybeyondboththe
exacerbatedattachmenttobeingandthereactivenihilismthattogetherplaguethemodernworld(seeUeda
2011a).Nishitaniwritesasfollows:Ontheonehand,nyatoremptinesscanbetermedanabsolute
negativity,inasmuchasitisastandpointthathasnegatedandtherebytranscendednihility,whichwasitself
thetranscendencethroughnegationofallbeing.Inthissense,emptinesscanwellbedescribedasoutside
ofandabsolutelyotherthanthestandpointshackledtobeing,providedweavoidthemisconceptionthat
emptinessissomethingdistinctfrombeingandsubsistingoutsideit.Ontheotherhand,then,emptiness
istrulyemptinessonlywhenitemptiesitselfevenofthestandpointthatrepresentsitassomethingthatis
emptiness.[Trueemptiness]istoberealizedassomethingunitedtoandselfidenticalwithbeing(NKC
X,10910Nishitani1982,97).FollowinginthewakeofNishida'stopologicalthinkingofabsolute
nothingness(seesubsection3.3below),Nishitanialsothinksofnyatasaplaceorfieldwherein
beingscanappearastheytrulyareintheirproperbasisorhomeground(moto).

Theideaofanothingnessthatradicallytranscends,orunderlies,bothbeinganditssimplenegationcanalso
betracedbacktopreBuddhistChinesethought.ArecentChinesescholarlamentsthephilosophical
ambiguityinherentintheChinesecharacterwu(nothingness).HewritesthatinChinesewucanmeanboth
thecontrastingpairofyou[i.e.,being]andthemetaphysicalsourceofbothyouandwu(Zhang2002,
150).IntheterminologyoftheKyotoSchool,theformersenseofwu(muinJapanese)isamatterof
relativenothingness,whilethelattersenseisakintowhattheycallabsolutenothingness.Thelatter
senseofwuisexpressedinchapter40oftheLaozi(Daodejing)asfollows:Themyriadthingsunderheaven
aregeneratedfrombeing.Beingisgeneratedfromnothingness(wu).Thisunnamablenondualisticsource
ofallbeingandrelativenonbeingisalsoreferredtoastheWay(dao).Ofthelatteritissaid,inchapter14of
theLaozi:Itiscalledtheshapelessshape,theimageofnothing(seeIzutsu2001,5051and104).Itisnot
hardtolinkthisthoughtwithNishida'sprofessedintentionofgivingphilosophicalfoundationtotheformof
theformlessthatliesattheheartofthetraditionsoftheEast.

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IntheDaoisttraditionwealsofindanideaofnothingnessusedinthecontextofradicallyemptyingthemind
inordertoattunethefiniteselftotheinfinite[9]rhythmoftheWay.TheZhuangzispeaksinthisregardof
thepracticeofsittingdownandforgettingeverythingandofbeingemptylikeamirror(seeWatson
1968,90and97).WhenZentalksofreturningtoone'soriginalfacebeforeone'sparentswereborn,we
findtheDaoistideasofforgettingtheegoandreturningtotherootlinkedtogetherwiththeMahyna
Buddhistnotionoftheoriginalpurityofthemind.Theoriginalbrightnessandpurityofthemind,which
lieshiddenbeneaththecloudsofdefilingpassion,isalsofrequentlyexpressedinMahynatextswiththe
analogyofamirrorthatisabletospontaneouslyreflecttheworldwithoutegoisticdiscriminations.

ZenpresumablyinheritsthisanalogyoftheoriginalmindasmirrorfrombothMahynaandDaoistsources.
InthetraditionaleditionofThePlatformSutraoftheSixthPatriarch,however,allresiduesofdualistic
discriminationincludingthosethatremaineveninthenotionofamirrorthatneedstobecontinuallywiped
cleanofimpuritiesaresweptawayinthefamouslines:Originallythereisnotasinglething(Chinese:
benlaiwuyiwuJapanese:honraimuichimotsu).InthisquintessentialZenexpressionareweddedtogether
themeontologicalandpsychologicalsensesofwu/mu:arejectionofanontologyofindependentsubstances,
adeclarationofanoriginary(selfnegating)nothingness,andanexpressionofaradicalfreedomfrom
egoisticattachmentandfreedomforspontaneouscreativityandcompassion.

InZenwefindtheMahynaBuddhistnotionofemptinessandtheDaoistnotionofnothingnessfully
intertwinedanddevelopedintoapracticeoflivingbothcompletelyunattachedandcompletelyengagedin
theworldoftrueemptiness,marvelousbeing.InthefamouswuormukanthatopenstheGateless
Barrier,Wumen(Mumon)urgesthosewhowishtoreachenlightenment,thatis,thosewhowishtopass
throughthebarrierofthegateofnothingness,toconcentratetheirentirelifeforceonthiswu(mu),taking
caretounderstanditneitherasnihilisticnothingnessnorintermsofbeingandnonbeing(Nishimura
1994,22seeCleary1999,71).ThiswasthekanthatNishidafinallypassedafternearlyadecadeofintense
practiceofZen(seeYusa2002,45ff.).AndasNishidaconfidedmanyyearslatertoNishitani,itwasfrom
earlyonhisimpossibledesiretosomehowbringZenandphilosophytogether(NKZXIX,22425see
Davis2004b,256ff.).

3.3Nishida'sTopologyofAbsoluteNothingness
BesidescontrastingWesternbeingwithEasternnothingness,inhislaterwritingsNishidaalsoattimesmakes
abroaddistinctionbetweenaWesternlogicofthingsandanEasternlogicoftheheartmind(kokoro).
WhileWesternthoughttendstobeginwithanobjectivelogicofsubstances(bethesephysicalormental),he
claimsthatinBuddhismonecanfindthegermofalogicoftheheartmind,eveniftraditionallythis
remainedlargelyatthelevelofanexpressionofpersonalexperienceratherthanbeingfullydevelopedintoa
genuinelyphilosophicallogic(seeNishida1964,356).(ScholarsofBuddhismmaywanttoarguethatitwas
Nishida'sownknowledgeofBuddhismthatremainedtoomuchatthelevelofpersonalexperience,rather
thanthesophisticatedteachingsoftheMdhyamaka,Yogcra,Tiantai,andHuayantraditionsofMahyna
philosophy.)

Inanycase,inthedevelopmentofNishida'sthought,beingisthoughtofintermsoftheobjectivityof
determinatethings,relativenothingnessisunderstoodasamereprivationorsimplenegationofbeing,and
anenvelopingsenseofnothingnessisprovisionallyassociatedwithakindoftranscendentalsubjectivityof
consciousnessortheheartmind.Ultimately,however,Nishidacomestopositabsolutenothingnessasthe
place(basho)thatembracesbothsubjective(noetic)andobjective(noematic)dimensionsofreality.Thus,
herelegatesnotonlyprivationofbeingbutalsosubjectivenothingness,inthesenseofthefieldof
consciousness,toatypeofrelativenothingness.[10]

In1934Nishidawrites:Realityisbeingandatthesametimenothingnessitisbeingandnothingness[u
sokumu],nothingnessandbeingitisbothsubjectiveandobjective,noeticandnoematic.Realityisthe
unityofsubjectivityandobjectivity,andthustheselfidentityofwhatisabsolutelycontradictory.Orrather,
itisnotthat[theseparatespheresof]subjectivityandobjectivitycometounite,andthenwefirsthave
reality.[Theoppositionof]subjectivityandobjectivitymustinsteadbethoughtfromoutofadynamically
dialecticalrealitythatisselfdetermining(NKZVII,441seeNishida1970,29).Reality,asthedialectical
selfdeterminationofabsolutenothingness,isinNishida'slaterworksunderstoodasadynamicidentityof
theabsolutecontradictionbetweensubjective(relative)nothingnessandobjectivebeing.Absolute

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nothingnessisthetemporalandspatialplacewhereinindividualpersonsandthingsdetermineoneanother
intheirmutualinteractions.

Theplaceofabsolutenothingess(zettaimunobasho)firstbecamethecentralconceptofNishida'sthought
inthemid1920s,thoughhecontinuedtodevelopandrethinktheideaupuntilhislastcompletedessayin
1945,TheLogicofPlaceandtheReligiousWorldView.Nishidafirstexplicitlyworkedoutanideaof
absolutenothingnessinhis1926book,FromThatWhichActstoThatWhichSees(NKZIV),abookwhich
inauguratedhismiddleperiodofthought.Inthiswork,whichincludesanimportantessayentitledPlace
(Basho),Nishida'stopologicalreasoningdevelopsinroughoutlineasfollows[11]:

Justasalleventsmusttakeplacesomewhere,allbeingsmustbesituatedinsomeplace.Beingsalways
existinrelationtootherbeings,andanyrelationrequiresathirdterm,namely,theplaceormediumwherein
theyarerelated.Inotherwords,forAandBtoberelated,theremustbesomeplace,C,inwhichtheir
relationissituated.Tobeginwith,wecanunderstandthisCasthespatialcontextinwhichobjectsare
situatedinrelationtooneanother.Butthecontextinwhichthingsaredefinedismorethanspatialathingis
notonlyhereasopposedtothere.Thingsaredeterminedaccordingtoanumberofcriteria,eachofwhich
operateswithinitsownfieldofjudgment.Hence,theplaceCcanbefurtherunderstoodasacategoryof
judgment,suchascolor.Redandbluearerevealed,andcontrastedwithoneanother,ascolorswithinthe
categoryfieldofcolor.

Inordertoletconcretethingsrevealthemselvesyetmorefully,however,weshouldthinkofCas
consciousness.Ourmindsareabletocorrelatevariouscategoriesofjudgment,suchascolor,size,shape,
location,etc.,andthereforetoperceiveindividualthingsascomposedofuniquecombinationsofvarious
qualities.Forexample,weareconsciousofacertainthingasaround,soft,red,sweet,applesittingona
table.Thefieldofconsciousnessisthefieldinwhichthesedifferentcategoriesareunifiedintheperception
andjudgmentofthequalitiesofaparticularthinginrelationtootherparticularthingsandtheirqualities.

Ultimately,however,thereisacruciallimittothesubjectivefieldofconsciousness.AsKantdemonstrated,
subjectiveconsciousnesscannotreflectthingsastheyareinthemselves,butonlyastheyappearwhen
schematizedaccordingtosubjectivecategories.What,then,istheultimateplacewhereintheencounter
betweensubjectsandobjectstakesplace,whereinpersonsandthingscoexist?AccordingtoNishida,this
mustbetheplacewhereinpersonsandthingsnotonlyundergochangesinaccidentalcategoricalqualities,
butwhereintheyessentiallyandexistentiallycometobeandpassaway.Itistheplace,notjustof
intellectualjudgments,butofbirthanddeath.Thisultimategroundlessground,whichenvelopesall
beings,yetwhichdoessoinsuchawaythatletsthemcontaintheirownprincipleofselfdetermination,
Nishidacallstheplaceoftruenothingness.Althoughinnosenseadeterminatebeing,neitheristhisplace
oftrueorabsolutenothingnessamerestaticvacuity.Insomesenseitmustbethoughtofasboththe
epistemicsourceofconsciousnessandtheontologicaloriginofbeings.

AlthoughNishidacomestotheideaoftheplaceofabsolutenothingnessmostdirectlythroughhis
confrontationswithKantandNeoKantianism,hedoesnotshyfromthinkingthisplaceinmetaphysicalas
wellasepistemologicalterms:nothingnessisnotmerelyareflective,butisalsoacreativeprinciple(NKZ
IV,23839).Ashewritesmuchlater,absolutenothingnessatoncetranscendseverythingandisthatby
whicheverythingisconstituted(NKZIX,6).Andyet,Nishidarepeatedlytellsusthat,asnothingoutside
oforotherthantheplaceofthecomingtobeandpassingawayoftrulyindividualbeings,absolute
nothingnessisnottobethoughtofasatranscendentbeing.Norisittobeunderstoodastheprocessional
unfoldingofapotentialbeing,thatistosay,asakindofHegelianworldSpiritwithitsowncunning
reasonatworkbehindthescenesofitshistoricalmarchtowardselfrealization.Theabsolute,accordingto
Nishida,mustbethoughtofasnothingnessinordertodistinguishitfromallontologiesthatwouldreduce
theuniquenessandautonomyoftrulyindividualbeingseithertoatranscendentbeingortoanunderlying
teleologicalprocess.

OneofthedrivingconcernsbehindNishida'srepeatedinsistencethattheabsolutebethoughtofinthe
meontologicaltermsofaformless,indeterminateplaceofabsolutenothingness,isthatonlythereincanthe
selfdeterminingandirreduciblysingularindividualbegivenitsdue(seeDavis2011b).Allontologiesof
universalbeingfailtoallowfortheexistenceofthetrueindividual,orforthegenuineencounterbetween
individuals.Sincethereisnouniversal[ofbeing]whatsoeverthatsubsumestheIandthethou(NKZVI,

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381),thelocusofgenuineinterpersonalencountermustbethoughtofintermsoftheplaceofabsolute
nothingness(seeDavis2014).

ItshouldbepointedoutthattheJapanesetermforabsolute,zettai,literallymeansaseveringof
opposition,whichimpliesthesenseofwithoutanopposingother.Thecontrastingtermisstai,which
indicatesrelativityintheliteralsenseofmutualopposition.Thetrueabsolutemustembrace,ratherthan
standoveragainst,therelative.Theabsolute,therefore,mustnotopposeitselftorelativebeingsrather,its
selfdeterminationmustbesuchastoallowtheirmutuallyautonomousrelationstotakeplace.Accordingto
Nishida,itisonlyaphilosophyoftheplaceofabsolutenothingnessthatcandojusticetothenotionofthe
absoluteaswellasaccountforboththeautonomyandthemutualrelativityofindividuals.

WhileontheonehandNishidabecomesincreasinglyconcernedwithallowingforradicalinterpersonal
alteritywithintheplaceofabsolutenothingness,ontheotherhandhealsoconsistentlyarguesfromearlyon
thatconsciousnessshouldnotbethoughttonecessarilyentailanunbridgeableepistemologicalsubject
objectsplit.Althoughheinitiallyadopted,andadapted,thenotionofpureexperiencefromWilliamJames
andotherstoexpressthisnondualbasisofknowledge(seeNishida1990),Nishidalaterdropsthisexpression
infavorofthenotionofselfawareness(jikaku).AccordingtoNishida,selfawarenesscanbedefinedasa
selfreflectingitselfwithinitself(NKZIV,215).[12]Sinceabsolutenothingnessisnotaselfinthesense
ofasubjectstandingoveragainstanobject,anymorethanitisanegowithitsowninterestedcategoriesof
perception,theselfawarenessofabsolutenothingnessmustbethatofaseeingwithoutaseerora
knowingwithoutaknower.Sincethereisnothingthatreflects,itislikeamirrorreflectingthemirror
itself(ibid.,181).

InNishida'smiddleperiod,theparadigmforknowingisapureseeing(tadamiru)beyondallactingand
volition.Nishidaclaimsthatasfiniteindividualswecanapproachthisidealbywayofthoroughlynegating
oremptyingtheego.Bytrulyemptyingtheself,thefieldofconsciousnesscanreflectanobjectjustasitis
(NKZIV,221).Theselfreachestheplaceofabsolutenothingness,andthereforefirsttrulycomesinto
contactwithotherbeings,bywayofthoroughlyemptyingitselfinamovementofimmanent
transcendencethattakesitbackthroughthedepthsofthefieldofconsciousness.

Inhislastcompletedtext,TheLogicofPlaceandtheReligiousWorldview,Nishidamostfullydeveloped
thereligiousimplicationsoftheideaofabsolutenothingness.Therehesuggeststhatabsolutenothingnessis
thebestwaytounderstandGodortheabsolute,whichhedefinesasthatwhichcontainsitsownabsolute
selfnegationwithinitself(NKZXI,397).Asabsolutenothingness,Godisthedynamicprincipleof
affirmationbywayofabsoluteselfnegation.Thetrueabsoluteessentiallynegatesitstranscendentdivinity
andexpressesitselfintheformsoftherelative.[13]

NishidainsiststhatthisideaofGodcanbeunderstoodnomoreintermsofanimmanentpantheismthanin
termsofatranscendenttheism.ItmayperhapsbestbecalledpanentheismbutforNishidathistooremains
astatictermofobjectivelogicandfailstocapturethenecessityofthinkingGodasbothirreducibly
transcendentandthoroughlyimmanent.AsNishidaisfondofsaying,GodortheBuddhaisimmanently
transcendent.ItistheparadoxicallogiconefindsinthePrajpramitSutrasofMahynaBuddhism
(i.e.,whatD.T.Suzukicalledthelogicofsokuhi,alogicofisandisnot)thatNishidathinksmost
profoundlyexpressestheabsolutedialecticofthedivineasthedynamicprincipleofabsolutenothingness
(NKZXI,399seeNishida1987,6971).

Ifweasfiniterelativebeingscananddotouchtheinfiniteabsolute,itisonlybywayofamutualself
negation.Nishidacallsthismutualselfnegationinversecorrespondence(gyakutai).Bywayofradically
emptyingourselves,wecantouchthatwhichistheradicaloriginofselfemptying,theabsoluteasan
essentiallyselfnegatingabsolutenothingness.AccordingtoNishida,animmanentprincipleofselfnegation
is,infact,theveryessenceoflife.Truelife(seimei)mustcontainwithinitselfanabsolutenothingness,a
[principleof]absolutenegation(NKZVIII,341).Itissuchalifethatcantrulybeselfdeterminingasa
creativeelementofacreativeworld.

Inhismiddleperiod,inauguratedbythefirstformulationsoftheideaoftheplaceofabsolutenothingness
inFromThatWhichActstoThatWhichSees,Nishida'sthoughtwascharacterizedbyashiftfromhisearlier
voluntarismtoakindofintuitionismofpureseeingwithoutaseer(seeNKZIV,36).Inhislaterperiod,
however,Nishida'sepistemologybecamemuchmoredynamicanddialecticalratherthanpureseeing,his
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keyepistemologicalphrasethenbecomesactiveintuition(kitekichokkan).Althoughselfemptyingstill
playsavitalrole,thisisunderstoodnotaspreparationforapassiveintuition,butratherasanactiveprocess
ofseeingathingbybecomingit.Inotherwords,intuitionhappensonlyinthemidstofthedialectical
processofactinguponandinturnbeingacteduponbythings.

Inhislaterperiod,theplaceofabsolutenothingnessisaccordinglyreconceivedmuchmoredynamicallyas
theselfdeterminationofthedialecticalworld,aworldwhichcontinuallymovesaccordingtotheprinciple
offromcreatedtocreating.Theabsolutefindsexpressionnowonlyinthemidstofthemutualinteraction
ofindividualsandthings,andtrueindividualsarebothdeterminedbyandcounterdetermine(gyakugentei
suru)themovementofthedialecticalworld(seeNKZVII,305ff.VIII,31314).Althoughonecantosome
extenttraceanimmanentunfoldingofNishida'sthoughtinthisdirection,itisalsoundeniablethatamajor
impetusforhisdialecticaldevelopmentoftheideaofabsolutenothingnesscanbefoundinthecriticismhe
receivedfromhisjuniorcolleague,TanabeHajime.

3.4Tanabe'sAbsoluteNothingnessastheOtherPowerofAbsoluteMediation
ItisTanabe'sdeclarationofpartialindependencefromNishida'sthoughtinanessaywrittenin1930,
LookinguptoProfessorNishida(THZIV,305328),thatmanyseeastheoriginoftheKyotoSchoolas
morethanagroupofdisciplesofNishidaPhilosophy.InthisessayTanabesharplycriticizesNishida's
middleperiodphilosophyoftheplaceofabsolutenothingness,claimingthatitfallsintokindofPlotinian
emanationismthatultimatelyrestsonareligiousormysticalintuition.ForTanabe,thisposedtwoserious
problemsforagenuinephilosophyofabsolutenothingness.

Tobeginwith,incrossingthelinebetweenphilosophicalreason,basedonordinaryexperience,andsupra
rationalintuition,basedonextraordinaryreligiousexperience,Nishidahadpurportedlycommitteda
methodologicaltransgression.HereTanabeposesaquestionthatstillresoundsthrough(somewouldsay
haunts)thehallsofKyotoSchoolstudiestothisday.AsJamesHeisigputsit,theKyotoSchoolthinkersin
generaldonotshareanimportantassumptionofWesternphilosophyasawhole,namely,acleardelineation
betweenphilosophyandreligion(Heisig2001,1314).Thisisacomplexissue,sincetheWesternconcept
ofreligionwasjustasmuchanimporttoJapanaswasphilosophy.Theproblemsfacedandthe
possibilitiesopenedupbyaZenBuddhistphilosophyofreligioninparticulardifferinsignificantways
fromaJudeoChristianone,insofarastheformercallsforextendingrationalthoughtinthedirectionofa
practiceofawakening,ratherthaninthedirectionofaleapoffaith.

IhaveaddressedtheprovocativemethodologicalambivalencesinvolvedinNishida'sandNishitani's
philosophiesofZenindetailelsewhere(Davis2004b).LetitsufficetopointoutherethatTanabetoolater
crisscrossesthelinebetweenphilosophyandreligionasmuchasanyKyotoSchoolthinker,althoughhis
ShinBuddhistinclinationstookhiminthedirectionoffaithratherthanintuition.[14]Afterthisreligious
turninhisthinking,Tanabeclaimedthatphilosophyandfaithmustbemediatedbyapersonalactof
metanoesis(Tanabe2000,34Tanabe1986,29),andthat,inordertodevelopagenuinephilosophyof
religion,intheendonemusthavefaithandbecomeselfawarebymeansofreligiousfaith(Tanabe2003,
27).

Forhispart,NishidarespondedtoTanabe'searlycritiquebyaffirmingthathisideaoftheselfawarenessof
absolutenothingnessdoesindeedentailtheprofoundsignificanceofreligiousexperience.Yetheclaimsthat
thisisneithermysticalinthesenseofreligiousecstasynorisitthoughtinthedirectionofsubstance,asis
Plotinus'One.Hedeniedthechargeofemanationism,claimingthatinhisthoughtitisnotamatterofthe
selfdeterminationofbeing,butrathertheselfdeterminationofnothingness(NKZVI,154).ForNishida,
onlyiftheabsoluteisthoughtintermsofaselfnegatingnothingness,ratherthanintermsofatranscendent
plenumoftheOne,isitpossibletotrulyaffirmtheworldofthemany.Theabsoluteisfoundinthevery
midstofbeings,notbeyondthem.Itisbecausethisisabsolutenothingness,Nishidawritesintheparlance
ofZen,thatthemountainismountain,theriverisriver,andallbeingsarejustastheyare(NKZV,182
seeNishida1958,137).

ButtheothermajorconcernofTanabe'scritiqueofNishidawasthat,insofarasabsolutenothingnessismade
intoanunchangingbasisorenvelopingplaceofasystemofreality,andinsofarasitisseenastranscending
thedialecticalinteractionsamongbeings,thensuchaphilosophyendsupfallingbackintoametaphysicsof
beingafterall.Inordertoradicallythinktheideaofabsolutenothingness,Tanabeargues,wemustconceive
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ofitratherintermsofabsolutemediationorabsolutedialectic.absolutenothingnessmustbethought,
notasanenvelopingplace,butastheverymovementofabsolutenegation,amovementwhichoriginates
intheselfnegationofabsolutenothingnessitself.Tanabewrites:Sincetheabsolute,asnothingness,must
actasanabsolutemediatingforce,itpresupposesrelativebeingasitsmedium.Incontrastwiththedoctrine
ofthecreationoftheworldmaintainedbythetheist,orthetheoryofemanationpropoundedbythepantheist,
[for]historicalthinkingtheabsoluteandtherelative,nothingnessandbeing,areinterrelatedeachwiththe
otherasindispensableelementsofabsolutemediation(Tanabe2000,27Tanabe1986,23).

Inthislatertext,PhilosophyasMetanoetics,writtenaroundthesametimeasNishidawaselaboratinghis
ownkenoticideaofaselfnegatingabsolutenothingness,Tanabe,inaputativecritiqueofNishida,also
writes:BecausetheabsolutesubjectofOtherpowerisabsolutenothingnessitmustbethoroughly
mediatedbytherelativeself.Incontrasttoamereselfidentityofabsolutecontradictories,onlythatwhich
entailstheabsoluteexistentialmediationofthedeathandresurrectionoftheselfcanbecalledabsolute
nothingness(Tanabe2000,13Tanabe1986,8).Tanabe'spassingdismissalofNishida'sterminologyhereis
hardlyconvincing,sinceinfactNishidatoospeaksoftheabsoluteselfnegationofabsolutenothingnessand
oftheexistentialdeathandresurrectionofthefiniteself.Inanycase,Tanabe'sphilosophyasthewayof
metanoetics(zanged)entailsaceaselessmovementofwhathecallsabsolutecritique,wheretheself
poweroffinitereasonagainandagainrunsupagainstantinomies,andisrebornonlybywayofabsolute
nothingnessaswhathecalls,intheparlanceofShinran'sShinBuddhism,theworkingsofOtherpower
(tariki).

AsNishitaniandothershavepointedout(seeNKCIX,212ff.Nishitani1991,161ff.),Tanabe'scriticisms
oftenfailtodojusticetoNishida'sthought,andweshouldnotforgettheimpetusesTanabeacknowledges
havingreceivedfromhiserstwhilementor.Yet,ontheotherhand,hiscriticismswerefrequentlynotwithout
theirpoint,andhisprovocationscertainlydidserveascounterimpetusesthatspurredNishidaon,notjustto
clarify,butalsotofurtherdevelophisphilosophyofabsolutenothingness(seeSugimoto2011Kopf2004).
NodoubtinlargepartduetothepersistentattentiongivenbyTanabetothehistoricalworld,totheirrational
elementofthespecificthroughwhichtheindividualandtheuniversalmustbemediated,andtothe
dialecticalrelationsbetweenfinitebeings,Nishidagraduallymovedtowardamuchmoredynamic
conceptionofabsolutenothingnessastheselfdeterminationofthedialecticalworld,aselfdetermination
whichtakesplaceonlybywayofthemutualinteractionsbetweenindividualpersonsandthings.

3.5Nishitani'sThreefieldTopology:Being,Nihility,andnyat
InthetraditionoftheKyotoSchool,Tanabe'srolehasoftenbeenseen,justlyorunjustly,asmoreofa
dialecticalcounterpointthananindependentalternativetoNishida.FollowingtheleadofNishida'sown
creativeappropriationofTanabe'scritiqueofhismiddleperiodphilosophyofplace,subsequentKyoto
SchoolfigureshaveoftentendedtoincorporateTanabe'sdialecticalthinkinginto,ratherthanseeingitasa
replacementfor,Nishida'stopologicalthinkingofabsolutenothingness.Tobesure,suchthinkersas
TakeuchiYoshinoriandHaseShtwereprofoundlyinfluencedbyTanabewho,inspiredbyShinBuddhism,
understandsabsolutenothingnessintermsoftheabsolutemediationofOtherpower.Yetmanyothers,
includingNishitani,Ueda,Abe,andhashi,receivedtheirprimaryimpetusfromNishidawho,inspiredby
Zen(aswellasShin)Buddhism,thinksintermsofakenoticanddialecticalselfdeterminationoftheplace
ofabsolutenothingness.

Tanabe'smethodofthinking,aswehaveseen,wasintenselydialectical,amethodhedevelopedthroughhis
prolongedstudyofHegel.Nishitani,ontheotherhand,beganhisstudyofWesternthoughtbyfocusingon
Bergson,Schelling,NietzscheandtheGermanMystics.Between1937and1939,Nishitanistudiedwith
Heidegger,whowasatthetimebeginningtograpplewiththequestionofnihilism,andwhose
phenomenologyhaddevelopedintoathinkingoftheclearingofbeingorwhathewouldlatercharacterize
asatopologyofbeing(Heidegger1975,Vol.15,335).Influencednodoubtinpartbyhiscontactwith
Heidegger(andperhapsinturninfluencingHeidegger,whofrequentlyinvitedhimtohishousetolearnabout
Zen),Nishitanideveloped,inhisownhighlyoriginalmanner,existentialandphenomenologicalaspectsof
Nishida'stopologyofabsolutenothingness.

TheproblemofnihilismgraduallybecamethemajorfocusofNishitani'spersonalandscholarlyattention.
Nishitaniunderstoodthehistoricalphenomenonofnihilismasavacuousnothingnessthatassaultsthe
modernworld,aworldbereftofitsethicalandreligiousmoorings.Despitetheprofundityofhismentor
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Nishida'sphilosophy,itfailedtoadequatelyaddressthiscrucialmodernproblem(seeUeda2011a).
AccordingtoNishitani,Nishida'sphilosophy,whetheritbehisearlythoughtofpureexperienceorthe
laternotionofactiveintuition,beginsalreadyfromastandpointwherethedualisticconsciousnessofthe
egohasalreadybeenbrokenthough(seeNKCIX24748Nishitani1991,18485).Forhispart,Nishitani
wasconcernedwiththequestionofhowtothinkthetopologicalpathwayleadingtosuchabreakthroughto
nonduality.

Thequestionofhowtoopenupanexistentialpathtotheplaceofabsolutenothingnesswasparticularly
acutegiventheprevalenceofthependulumswingbetweentwoextremesendemictomodernity:ontheone
hand,anextremereificationofthesubjectiveegotogetherwithacorrespondingobjectificationand
technologicalmanipulationofthingsand,ontheotherhand,areactivenihilismwhichthreatenstonullify
theveryrealityofboththeselfandthings.ForNishitani,humanismandsciencewereincapableof
overcomingthisdilemmaofreificationvs.nullificationinfact,theyhadhelpedcreateit.Inanageof
secularegoismandnihilism,howcouldanexperienceoftheplaceofabsolutenothingnesstakeplace?

Tobeginwith,NishitanisayswemustheedthecallofNietzsche'smadmanandceasefleeingfromthe
experienceofnihilism.Godasthehighestbeingisdead,anditremainsanopenquestionwhetherhecanbe
rebornasabsolutenothingness.Inanycase,theventureofNishitani'sphilosophyofZenismoreconcerned
withtheexistentialimperativeoflettinggoofattachmentsthanitiswithimmediatelygraspingholdofanew
conceptforGod.Inordertofinallyfreehumansfromtheiregoisticobsessionsandmanipulative
objectificationsinthedualisticfieldofbeingandconsciousness,Nishitaniarguedforthenecessityoffirst
boldlysteppingbackintothefieldofnihility.

Yettherealbreakthroughtoanondualisticreaffirmationoftheselfandtheworldonlyoccurswhenthe
relativenothingnessofnihilityisinturnbrokenthroughtoagenuineexperienceofabsolutenothingnessor
trueemptinessonthefieldofnyat.Nishitanithusexplainedthepersonalencounterwithnihilismasan
experienceoftheextremerelativenothingnessofnihilityorvacuousnothingness(kyomu),andforhim
thecentraltaskofovercomingnihilismbywayofpassingthroughnihilismentailedtransgressingbeneath
(i.e.,transdescending)thefieldofnihilitytothefieldofnyat(seeNKCX,109and122ff.
Nishitani1986,97and108ff.).[15]Asmentionedearlier(subsection3.2),thefieldofnyatisnota
vacuumofrelativenothingnessthatassaultsbeingsfromwithoutitisanopenclearingwhereinbeingsare
neithernullifiednorreified,butratherletbeinthemutualfreedomoftheircomingtobeandpassingaway.It
isalsotheplaceinwhichagenuineinterpersonalencountercantakeplace(Nishitani2004).

WhileNishitani'sfieldofnyat(knoba)correspondsinmanyrespectstowhatNishidacallstheplace
ofabsolutenothingness(zettaimunobasho),Nishitanitakesthepeculiarproblemsthatbesetthemodern
secularandtechnologicalworld,aswellaspostmoderncritiquesofmetaphysicsandsubjectivity(especially
thoseofNietzscheandHeidegger),farmoreseriouslythandidNishida.Nishitanialsoconnectshisthought
muchmoreexplicitlywiththetraditionofMahynaBuddhismthandidNishida,writingon,andwriting
from,whathecallsthestandpointofZen(seeNKCXIandNishitani2009).

3.6Ueda'sTwolayeredWorld:LinguisticHorizonswithintheEmptyExpanse
UedaShizuteruastudentofNishitani'swhohassincethe1980sbeenatthecenteroftherevivalofNishida
studiesalsotakesatopological,phenomenological,andexistentialapproachtotheideaofabsolute
nothingnessandhealsoexplicitlyorientshimselftoandfromthestandpointofZen(Ueda2011c).
FollowinginthetraditionoftheKyotoSchool'sdialoguewithWesternphilosophers,inoneofhisinfluential
worksUedaengagestheworkofHusserl,Heideggerandotherphenomenologiststoarticulateareligiously
chargedphilosophyofwhathecallstwofoldbeingintheworld(nijsekainaisonzai)(USSIXseealso
Dll2010).

Whilethefirstlayerinwhichtheselfislocatedisthehistoricalhorizonoftheeverydaylifeworld,this
horizonitselfisultimatelyfoundtorestinanabsolutelyemptyexpanse,aplaceofabsolutenothingness
thatbothenfoldstheeverydayworldaswellasgroundstheradicalfreedomoftheindividualselfnegating
self(seeUSSIX,2224and324ff.).Uedafindsthisideaofreturning,bywayofabsoluteselfnegation,toa
primordialwellspringofexistencethatisemptyandfree(ledigundfrei)inMeisterEckhart,and,inan
evenmorerarifiedform,inZenBuddhism(seeDavis2008a).Itisfromthelatterthatheborrowstheterm
emptyexpanse(kok)asatopologicalexpressionfornyat.
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ForUeda,then,thetwolayeredworldisinhabitedbyatwolayeredself,or,moreprecisely,byaselfthatis
notaself.Theself,asbeingintheworld,ultimatelyrealizesitselfinamomentofabsoluteselfnegation
whereitdiestoitselfandstandsasanonegoorhollowbeinginthehollowexpansewhichenvelopes
thehorizonallifeworld.Thetrueself,asaselfthatbecomesitselfbypassingthroughtheabsolutenegation
ofitsego,isatwolayeredbeinginandbeyondtheworlditstandsinthehorizonoftheworldwhich,in
turn,restsintheemptyexpanseofabsolutenothingness.

Thishollowexpanseis,tobesure,beyondconceptualunderstanding,insofarasconceptshaveastheir
mediumtheworldoflanguageanditsdeterminationsofmeaning.Nevertheless,whatliesbeyondthereach
oflanguageisnottobeunderstoodasanineffablemysticalrealmtowhichoneascendsandremains,but
ratheristobeexperiencedinextrememomentsfromthelimitsoflanguageasthatwhichatoncetears
throughandmends,exceedsandencompasses,transcendsandtransformsourlinguistichorizonsof
intelligibility.Insofaraswedonotcloseinonourselvesandrigidifyourlinguisticdelimitationsoftheworld,
wecanopenourselvesuptothesilenceofthissurroundingexpanseofunlimitedopenness,whichinturn
allowsustospeakandactmorefreelyandresponsiblyintheworldoflinguisticsignificance(seeUeda
2011bDavisforthcoming).

3.7TheSelfthatisnotaSelfandtheNothingnessofRadicalSubjectivity
UedaarguesthatboththeegooftheCartesiancogito,aswellasthenonego(Sanskrit:antmanJapanese:
muga)ofBuddhism,mustultimatelybecomprehendedonthebasisofanunderstandingoftheselfasa
repeatedmovementthrougharadicalselfnegationtoagenuineselfaffirmation.Ueda'sformulaforthis
movementis:I,notbeingI,amI.EvenwhenonesaysIamI,ifwelistencloselythereisapause,a
breath,betweenthefirstandthesecondI.Preciselythatopeningwhichnecessarilyoccursasamoment
intheceaselessmovementbywhichtheidentityoftheselfisconstitutedistheecstaticspacewhereinan
openencounterwithanotherpersonispossible.

Suchagenuineencounterwithanotherpersonnolongertakesplacesimplywithinmy,oryour,orevenour
worldhorizon.Uedausesthegreetingofthebowasaconcreteexampletoillustratehowmutualself
negationtheemptyingofallegocenteredpresumptionsandagendasreturnsustoacommunalplace
wherewe,paradoxically,sharenothingincommon.There,bywayofmakingoneselfintoanothingness,
onereturnsintotheinfinitedepthsofthatbetweenwherethereisneitheranInorayou.Then,whenwe
riseagainsoastocomebacktolifeanewandfaceoneanother,thisbecomesamatterof,asDgenputsit:
thusamIthusareyou(Ueda1991,67seeUSSX,107ff.).Opentoothers,andtothehollowexpansein
whichtogetherwedwell,IamI(USSX,2324).

Nishitanihadearlierusedtheexpression,theselfthatisnotaself,tocharacterizethesharedendeavorof
NishidaandTanabetothinkaselfthatisnotaselfturningontheaxisofabsolutenothingness(NKCIX,
238Nishitani1991,175).Theideaofthetrueselfasaselfthatisnotaselfexpressesanessentialaspect
ofwhatNishidaandotherKyotoSchoolthinkerscallfollowingD.T.Suzuki,whointurngleanedtheidea
fromtheDiamondSutrathelogicofsokuhi,alogicofisandisnotoraffirmationbywayofnegation
(seeAkizuki1996,109152NKZXI,39899Nishida1987,70).Theselffindsitsmostoriginaryfreedom,
anditsmostopenengagementwithothers,througharadicalselfnegationwhichreturnsit,nottoahigher
WillorencompassingBeing,buttoanessentiallyselfnegatingabsolutenothingnessthat,inturn,finds
expressiononlyintheinteractionoftrulyselfdeterminingindividuals.ForNishida,thetrueindividualisan
interpersonalselfdeterminingfocalpointoftheselfdeterminationofabsolutenothingness,inotherwords,
aninteractiveandcreativeelementofacreativeworld(seeNKZVIII,343ff.).

Nishitani'sfirstbook,ThePhilosophyofRadicalSubjectivity,soughtamoreoriginaryconceptionofthe
humansubjectthanhadbeendevelopedinmodernWesternphilosophy.Ingeneral,forNishitani,modern
subjectivityremainsboundbyareifyingattachmenttothingsandultimatelytotheego.Nishitanidid
recognizedcertainadvancesinthedirectionofatrulyradicalsubjectivityinmodernideassuchasthatof
individualautonomy.Forexample,theKantianideaoftheethicalperson,whichopensitselftoa
universalstandpointbywayofanegationoftheselfwilloftheego,suggestedforNishitaniakindof
standpointofnonego(seeNKCI,60).However,theautonomyoftheKantianethicalsubjectcanalsobe
seenasassertingasublatedformofselfwill,namelyinitswilltoformaswellastoconformtothe
universal.NishitanifindsprofounderintimationsofatrulyradicalsubjectivityinbothMeisterEckhart's
mysticaltheologyandNietzsche'sradicalatheism,whicheachintheirownwaygobeyond,ordigbeneath,
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attachmentstoandsublationsofegoity.UltimatelyNishitanireturnstothelanguageofZenBuddhismto
expresshisconceptionoftheradicalsubjectivityofnonego[muga]asasubjectivenothingness(shutai
tekimu)(NKCI,88).

Thisradicalsubjectivenothingnessisnottobeconfusedwiththerelativenothingnessofasubjective
consciousnesswhichsetsitselfoveragainst,andobjectifies,theworld.AswithZen'skanofnothingness
(mu),arealizationoftheradicalsubjectivityofnonego(muga)entailsbreakingthroughthedualistic
barrierthatartificiallyseparatesselfandworld.ForNishitani,thisbreakthroughisexpressedastheself
awarenessofthebottomdroppingout(NKCI,iii).Itisaradicalreturn,ortransdescendence,tothe
backgroundofourownselves,totheUngrundonwhichweoriginallypossessnotasinglething(mu
ichimotsu)(NKCXI,243).

WithNishitani'sconceptionofaradicalsubjectivenothingness,understoodasastandpointofnyat
realizedonthefieldofnyat,wefindanexplicitappropriationofboththepsychologicalandthe
meontological(ormulogical)paradigmsofnothingnessfoundinthetraditionsofEastAsia.Thenotionsof
nonego(muga)andnomindormindofnothingness(mushin)arethoughtintermsofthespontaneous
opennessoftheheartmindthatstandswithinthefieldofemptiness,anopenplacewhichgrantsbeingsthe
freespaceneededfortheirunobstructed(muge)interactivity.

Aswehaveseen,Nishida,Nishitani,andUedaeachconceivedofabsolutenothingnessinbothanexistential
andatopologicalsense.AlthoughTanabeeschewedthetopologicalconceptionofabsolutenothingness,by
understandingboththerelativeselfandtheabsoluteintermsofaceaselessmovementofaffirmationbyway
ofradicalnegation,hetoo,inhisownway,philosophicallyappropriatedtheEastAsianparadigmsof
psychologicalandmeontologicalnothingness.

4.PoliticalVenturesandMisadventures
ItshouldbeclearbythispointthatthephilosophicalstakesinvolvedintheKyotoSchool'sthoughtarehigh
indeedtheyinviteustorethinkmanyofourmostbasicconceptsandwaysofexperiencingtheworldand
ourselves.ForthisveryreasonKyotoSchoolthinkerspromisetobeespeciallyvaluablepartnersinanypost
Eurocentricforumofphilosophicaldialogue.Genuinephilosophy,afterall,thrivesontheopportunitytocall
itsfundamentalpresuppositionsintoquestion.Unfortunately,theworldofpoliticstendstobeafarlessself
criticalandthuslessopenlydialogicalforumofinterculturalrelations.ThehistoryofWesternimperial
dominationofAsiaiswelldocumented(seePanikkar1969),andpostcolonialcritiqueofWestern
imperialismplaysaprominentroleincontemporaryacademia.Atthesametime,inthefieldofEastAsian
studies,KyotoSchoolthinkersarefrequentlyaccusedofcontributingtothepoliticalideologyofJapanese
imperialisminthe1930sandearly1940s.However,weneedtocarefullyexaminethesenseinwhichandthe
extenttowhichthepoliticalthoughtoftheKyotoSchoolisdeservingofitstaintedreputationinthisregard.

4.1TheRazor'sEdgeofCooperativeResistance
ThepoliticalventuresandmisadventuresofphilosophersfromSocratesandPlatotoMarxandHeidegger
intheWest,andfromConfuciusandHanfeizitoGandhiandNishidaintheEastrepresentanenduringand
frequentlyproblematicaspectofthehistoriesofthought.Relatingtheidealworldofphilosophytothe
realworldofpoliticalactionisaperilous,ifarguablyobligatory,undertaking.

Thepitfallsofpoliticalinterventionareparticularlydeepwhenphilosophersfindthemselvesinanation
headeddownaroadtowardinjusticeanddisaster.Whatisaphilosophertodoinsuchasituation?Barring
straightforwardcomplicity,thereappeartobethreechoices:withdrawintoreclusion,standupinovert
resistance,ornegotiateareorientationbymeansofimmanentcritiqueorcooperativecorrection.While
manyintellectualsinwartimeJapantookthefirstcourse,somecourageousLeftistsbravedthesecond
course.BothTosakaJunandMikiKiyoshi,thekeyfiguresofwhatissometimescalledtheleftwingofthe
KyotoSchool,diedinprisonin1945asaresultoftheirintellectualresistance.ThemajorityoftheKyoto
Schoolthinkers,however,includingNishida,Tanabe,andNishitani,tookthethirdcourseofaction.

InretrospectNishitaniwrote:Myattemptwas,ontheonehand,toexplainwhereJapanwassituatedwithin
theworldtothoseintellectualsremainingonthesidelines[ofpolitics]and,ontheotherhand,withrespect
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totheextremelynationalisticthoughtthatwasbecomingincreasinglyprevalentatthetime,Iattemptedfrom
withintoopenupapathforovercomingthisextremenationalism(NKCIV,384).Ratherthaneitherstand
upanddie,orsitoutandwait,NishitaniandothermembersoftheKyotoSchoolattemptedtowalkthe
razor'sedgeofwhathashiRysukehascalledantiestablishmentcooperationorcooperativeresistance
(hantaiseitekikyryoku)(seehashi2001,20ff.).

Tobesure,thequestionofhowsuccessfullytheKyotoSchoolmanagedtocarryoutthiscooperative
resistance(andthequestionofwhethertheycooperatedmorethanresisted,orviceversa)isdebatable,
especiallygiventhefactthattheyhardlysucceededinalteringthedisastrousorientationoftheregime.Their
intentionsofcooperativeresistancenotwithstanding,thefactisthattheirpoliticalwritingsweremoreorless
successfullycooptedbytheveryextremenationalismthattheyweretryingtoreorientorovercomefrom
within.Nevertheless,wemusttakecaretoseparatetheiridealsfromtherealitytheywereattemptingto
influence,andbearinmindtheconstraintsoftheirchosenpathofimmanentcritique.

WhateverthepoliticalfailingsoftheKyotoSchoolthinkersmaybe,itisclearthatcertaincrudelyonesided
condemnationsareatleastassimplisticandmisleadingasaretheoccasionalattemptsofoverzealous
acolytestowhitewasheverythingtheyeversaidorwrote.Itis,forexample,highlymisleadingtorefertothe
KyotoSchool'sphilosophyofhistoryasathinlydisguisedjustificationforJapaneseaggressionand
continuingimperialism,ortoclaimthatnogrouphelpeddefendthestatemoreconsistentlyand
enthusiasticallyandnonecameclosertodefiningthephilosophiccontoursofJapanesefascism
(Najita/Harootunian1998,23839foraseverecritiqueofsuchpolemicalclaims,seeParkes1997and
2011).Thelatterdishonor,namelythatofattemptingtogivequasiphilosophicalexpressiontoJapanese
fascism,surelygoestotheproponentsofImperialWayPhilosophy,whoinfactharshlyattackedthe
worldhistoricalphilosophyoftheKyotoSchoolforbeinginsufficientlyJapancentric(seehashi2001,
7172).

JudiciouscriticsofthewartimepoliticalwritingsoftheKyotoSchoolmustsurelytrytosteeramiddle
coursebetweenandbeyondwhatJamesHeisigaptlycallsthesidesteppersandthesideswipers(see
Heisig1990,14).Withthisbalanceinmind,inthefollowingsectionsletmehighlightsomeofthekeypoints
andepisodesoftheKyotoSchool'swartimepoliticalventuresandmisadventures.

4.2Nishida'sReluctantWaroverWordsandhisAmbivalentUniversalism
In1943YatsugiKazuo,amemberoftheCenterforNationalStrategy,approachedNishidaandaskedhimto
contributeascholarlyaccountofJapan'sroleinEastAsia,thatis,tohelpprovidearationaleforthecreation
ofthesocalledGreaterEastAsiaCoProsperitySphere.Nishidaissaidtohaveburstoutinanger,
shoutingsomethinglike:Whatonearthdogovernmentofficialsandmilitariststhinkthesedays,that
scholarsarelikeartisansfromwhomtheycanordersomethingtobetailormade?AndyetYatsugi
apparentlycounteredtotheeffectthatnotonlyprominentJapanesescholars,suchasFukuzawaYukichi,but
alsoWesternphilosophers,suchasKantandAdamSmith,didnotneglecttoapplytheirtheoreticalinsights
topracticalsocialandpoliticalcircumstances(seehashi2001,47).IntheendNishidadidagreetowritean
essay,PrinciplesforaNewWorldOrder(NKZXII,426434seeArisaka1996),thoughhisoriginaltext
hadtobeeditedandsimplifiedbyasociologistservingasagobetween.Nishidawaseventhen
disappointedthathisattempttobringoutthedimensionofuniversalitypresentintheJapanesespirit
seemedtohavehadnoeffectonPrimeMinisterTjHidekiandhisbellicoseregime(seeYusa1994,124).

Fromtoday'svantagepoint,Nishida'spoliticalwritingsappearhighlyambivalent.Ontheonehand,his
resistancetofascismandtotalitarianismisunmistakable.Indeeditcomesasnosurprisethathewasin
dangerofbeingarrestedandapparentlyonlyhispublicstatureandthefactthathehadinfluential
sympathizerswithinthemoderateranksofthegovernmentkeptthisfromhappeningwhenonereadsthe
warninggiveninhis1941speechdelivereddirectlytotheemperor:Anytotalitariansystemthatnegates
outrighttheroleoftheindividualisbutananachronism(NKZXII,271seeYusa1994,111).Eveninhis
mostcompromisedtext,PrinciplesforaNewWorldOrder,Nishidaurgentlyclaimsthatthecoprosperity
spheremustnotentaileitherethnocentrism,expansionism,imperialism,colonialism,ortotalitarianism(see
NKZXII,43233).ElsewhereNishidamadeclearthathisvisionwasofamulticulturalworldwhereneither
theWestwouldsubsumetheEast,norviceversa(NKZXIV,4045),wherevariouscultures,while
maintainingtheirownindividualstandpoints,woulddevelopthemselvesthroughthemediationoftheworld
(NKZVII,45253).
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Ontheotherhand,NishidadidthinkthatnationsandinparticulartheJapanesenationwiththeemperorat
itsspiritualcenterhadaspecialroletoplayinthehistoricalformationofthistrulyworldlyworld(sekai
tekisekai).Moreover,inhiswritingshedidaffirmativelyemploysuchproblematicphrasesasalltheworld
underoneroof(hakkichiu)andtheimperialway(kd).Whilethereiscertainlyroomforcriticismhere
inlight(andhindsight)ofthehistoricalrecordofJapan'spoliticalandculturalleadership(infact,
domination)ofEastAsiaatthistime,theissueofhowtocriticallyevaluateNishida'stheoretical
interventionsiscomplicatedbythehermeneuticalfactthattodaywereadsuchcatchwordsandphrases
throughthesemanticlensesoftherightwingideologueswhointheendsucceededincarvingtheir
definitionsintotheannalsofhistory.Itmustbekeptinmindthat,atthetime,theprecisemeaningofthese
phraseswasstillindispute.UedaShizuteruhasaptlyspokenofNishida'stugofwarovermeaning,a
strugglewhichheultimatelylost(Ueda1994,97alsoseeGotoJones2005).YusaMichikowritesinthis
regard:Ratherthaninventanewvocabularythatwouldriseabovethefray,[Nishida]tookupthejargon
andslogansofthedayandsoughttoredeemthemfromtheirpettyprovincialismbyopeningthemuptoa
moreuniversalperspective(Yusa1994,131).

Nevertheless,evenafterwehavecarriedoutahermeneuticallysensitivereconstructionofthecontext,and
afterwehavefinishedreadingbetweenandbehindthelinesofhispoliticaltexts,therenodoubtremaina
numberofcontroversialaspectsofNishida'spoliticalthought.Affirmingthecentralplaceoftheemperorin
Japanasanidentityofcontradictions,Nishidacrypticallywrites:Our[i.e.,Japan's]nationalpolityisnot
simplyatotalitarianism.TheImperialHouseisthebeginningandtheendofourworld,astheabsolute
presentthatembracespastandfuture(NKZXII,430).[16]AndwithregardtothecentralroleofJapanin
EastAsia,heclaimsthatinordertobuildaparticularworld,acentralfigurethatcarriestheburdenofthe
projectisnecessary.InEastAsiatodaythereisnootherbutJapan(NKZXII,429Arisaka1996,102).

CriticsmayarguethatNishida'suniversalismisstillplaguedbyanexemplaryparticularism,[17]andthathe
succeedsinquestioningEurocentrismonlybywayofshiftingthelocusoftheconcreteuniversaltoJapan.
YokoArisakaarguesthatthechiefclaimofthedefendersthatNishida'sphilosophicaluniversalismis
incompatiblewithnationalistideologyfailsbecauseuniversalistdiscoursewasusedbothasatoolof
liberationandoppressioninJapan'scase(Arisaka1999,242).Arisakacriticallyadds,however,thatthe
ideathataparticularnationmaybethebearerofauniversalprinciple,suchasfreedomordemocracy,and
that,therefore,itsactionsinhistoryserveahigherend,shouldbefamiliarfromrecentAmericanexperience
(ibid.,244alsoseeMaraldo1994,355).

TobefairtoNishida,weshouldconfessthatwetodayhaveyettosolvethepostEnlightenmentaporiaof
howtoreconcileuniversalhumanismwithculturalparticularity(adebateweinheritinpartfromtheKant
Herdercontroversy).Inotherwords,thequestionremainsofhowtoconfigureamulticulturalworldof
dialogueinsteadofeitheranimperialisticmonocultureoraclashofcivilizations.Inoursearchforananswer
tothisurgentquestion,wemayindeedhavemuchyettolearnfromacriticalappropriationofNishida's
thought(seeFeenberg1995Maraldo1995Davis2013bElberfeld1999andGotoJones2002,2005,2008,
2009).

4.3ControversialWartimeSymposia,andNishitani'sNationofNonEgo
Nishida'sambivalentpoliticalstancebetweenapostimperialisticvisionofamulticulturalnewworldorder
ontheonehand,andanaffirmationofJapan'sdestinedworldhistoricalroleinrealizingthisvisiononthe
otherwascarriedforthintoevenmorecontroversialpoliticalengagementsbyhisstudentsNishitaniKeiji,
KyamaIwao,KsakaMasaaki,SuzukiShigetaka,andtoalesserextentShimomuraToratar.Asmentioned
above,asignificant,ifstigmatizing,stageintheformationoftheidentityoftheKyotoSchoolinvolvedthe
participationofseveralofitsmembersintwowartimesymposia,theLiteraryWorld's1942symposiumon
OvercomingModernity(reprintedinKawakami/Takeuchi1979)andthe194143roundtablediscussions
publishedseriallyinthejournalChkronandlaterasamonograph,TheWorldHistoricalStandpointand
Japan(Ksakaetal1943).

TheOvercomingModernitysymposiumhasbeenaptlycharacterizedasaprematurechallengetothe
questionsthathaveyettobeansweredtoday(Minamoto1994,200).Evenoneofthemostcriticalrecent
accountsofthissymposiumanaccountwhicharguesthattheonlydestinationreachedbythesymposium
onovercomingmodernitywastheplacewhereJapanitselfhadbeenovercomebymodernityconcedes

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that:Itis,nevertheless,importanttopointoutthattheverycritiquemountedbyJapaneseagainstmodernity
prefiguredpreciselyallofthosedoubtsandobsessionsconcerningsubjectivity,culturaldifference,andeven
racismthathavebecomethesignaturesofaWesternandputativelyglobaldiscoursethatmarksourown
historicalconjuncturetoday(Harootunian2000,94).

Asdiscussedabove(subsection2.2),theKyotoSchoolparticipantsspokeofanovercomingofmodernity
thatcantakeplaceonlybywayofpassingthroughmodernity,astancethatrepresentedacountertendencyto
therejectionofmodernWesternrationalitybytheJapaneseRomanticSchoolandotherparticipantsinthe
symposium.Inotherwords,theKyotoSchoolparticipantsdidnotlamentthemodernization/Westernization
ofJapan,nordidtheynostalgicallypleaforareturntoapremodernagerather,theycalledforafurtherstep
forward,butonethatwouldinvolvecreativelyrecoveringviableelementsofJapanesetraditionatthesame
timeasbuildingonthebestofwhatcouldbelearnedfromtheWest.Thisstanceshowsupclearlyin
Nishitani'sdebatewithKobayashiHideo,whoarguedforarejectionofmodernityandareturntothepre
modernJapaneseclassics(seeKawakami/Takeuchi1979,217ff.).ThroughouthiscareerNishitani
consistentlyspokeofovercomingmodernityonlybywayofpassingthroughit,andinthisprocesstradition
wastobecreativelyappropriated,notconservativelyretreatedto.Hewrote:Thereisnoturningbacktothe
waythingswere.Ourtraditionmustbeappropriatedfromthedirectioninwhichweareheading,asanew
possibility(NKCVIII,183Nishitani1990,179)and:Simplyput,thebackwardlookingreturnto
traditionisstraightawaytobeforwardlooking(NKCXIX,104).LaterinlifeNishitanicontinuedtostress
thatJapaneseBuddhistorganizationsneedtoembracetheirhistorcality,whichmeanstomodernizeandthen
postmodernizeonlyinthiswaycantheycontinuetoplayavitalroleinJapanesesocietyaswellasofferthe
possibilitiesoftheirwaysoflifetothewiderworld(Nishitani2006,3638).

IntheChkrondiscussionsaswelltheKyotoSchoolresolutelyattemptedtothinkfromthestandpointof
worldhistory.Problematically,however,theyassertedaleadershiproleforJapaninthepresentmoment,
whichtheyviewedasaturningpointinworldhistory.Ifthestandpointofworldhistoryhadindeedbeenfirst
openedupbybothWesternuniversalismandimperialism,theyargued,itwasthenonWesternnationof
Japanthatwasinauniquepositiontofreetheworldfromthechainsofthelatterinordertorealizethetrue
potentialoftheformer.

Inhisbookwrittenaroundthesametime,ViewoftheWorldandtheNation,Nishitaniwentsofarastoclaim
thatthiswasthemomentintimewhenthefocalpointofworldhistorywastobecometheJapanesenation,
justaspreviouslyworldhistoryhadcenteredontheRomanEmpireandthenlaterontheBritishEmpire.
However,Nishitaniargued,unliketheformertwoempiresJapan'shistoricalmissionwastobringabouta
worldthathasnospecificcenterbutratherconsistsofvariouspoliticallyandculturallyunifiedspheres
(NKCIV,298300).TheJapanesenationwouldbeabletocarryoutthismission,hecruciallyadds,onlyifit
incorporatesareligiousspiritofselfnegation,thusbecomingwhathecallsanationofnonegoratherthan
aselfcenteredaggressiveempire(NKCIV,28586).Inthisidealisticvision,whichunfortunatelyhadlittle
todowiththecruelrealitiesofJapaneseexpansionism,Japanwastobeanaltogethernewkindofempire,a
selfnegatingandcompassionateonethatwouldhelpothernationstocooperativelyformtheirownidentities,
ratherthananaggressiveandimperialisticonethatwouldremoldothersintoinferiorreplicasofitself.(It
remainsforustoaskhowbesttocharacterizetoday'spoliticalsuperpowerandeconomicempires,andhow
torelatetheirideologiestotheirrealities.)

IfthereisalastingmerittoNishitani'swartimepoliticalwritingsandtheChkrondiscussions,itmightbe
foundinpartintheircritiqueofthecontradictionsandhypocrisiesofWesternimperialism(see,forexample,
Ksakaetal.1943,348ff.),togetherwiththeirinsistencethatJapan'sleadingroleinAsianotbecomethat
ofanimperialistorcolonizer(seeibid.,2045alsoseeNishitani'sMyViewofOvercomingModernity,
reprintedinKawakami/Takeuchi1979,32).ThelastinginfamyoftheChkrondiscussions,ontheother
hand,canbefoundnotonlyintheiridealisticpoliticalnavet,butalsointheiridealizationandeven
whitewashingofpoliticalrealities(suchasJapaneseaggressioninChinaandotherpartsofAsia),aswell
asinsuchdisturbingspecificsuggestionsasthatofJapanizingorhalfJapanizingsomeofthemore
superiorethnicgroupsinAsiainordertoassistininstitutingtheJapaneseledCoProsperitySphere
(Ksakaetal.1943,26263,337).

4.4TheshimaMemos:RecordofaThinkTankforNavyModerates

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ItisnowevidentthatthepoliticalactivitiesoftheKyotoSchoolduringthewarwereevenmoreinvolved
andevenmorefilledwithambiguitythanwaspreviouslythought.hashiRysukediscoveredand
publishedin2001somewartimenotebooksofshimaYasuma,astudentofTanabe's(hashi2001).These
notebooksdocumentindetailsecretmeetingsregularlyheldbyKyotoSchoolmembersatthebequestofthe
JapanesenavybetweenFebruary1942andjustbeforetheendofthewar.Whileontheonehandthe
existenceofthesesecretmeetingsdemonstratesanevenmoreintimateconnectionbetweentheKyotoSchool
andthemilitarythanwaspreviouslyknown,ontheotherhanditiscruciallysignificantthattheywerein
cooperationwithacertainmoderatefactionofthenavy,afactionthatwasopposedtotheextremiststhat
dominatedthearmy.Therehadlongexistedaconsiderabletensionbetweenthebellicosearroganceofthe
armyandthecomparativelymoremoderateandworldlystanceofthenavy.Asthepoliticallymorepowerful
armywassettingawarboundcourseforPearlHarbor,somereticentnavyofficialsevidentlypetitionedthe
KyotoSchooltoshedlightonthepoliticalsituationfromtheirworldhistoricalstandpoint,presumablyin
ordertoswaypublicsentimentinamoreprudentdirection.

Inshort,theshimaMemoshelprevealhowtheKyotoSchoolfoundthemselvesinapositionwherethey
werecalledontofightawarofthoughtontwofronts:againstWesternimperialism,theyfeltcalledonto
determineaworldhistoricalroleforJapaninfreeingitselfandotherAsianpeoplesfromcolonizationand
exploitationbytheWesternempiresand,againstJapaneseultranationalism,theyfeltthatitwasuptothem
toconvincethepublicandthemilitaryoftheillegitimacyofanimperialisticresponsetoWestern
imperialism.

shimaYasumahadhimselfpublished,in1965,anoftenoverlookedaccountofthesemeetingsunderthe
title,ThePacificWarandtheKyotoSchool:OnthePoliticalParticipationofIntellectuals(shima2000,
274304alsoseeHorio1994,301ff.).Inthisarticle,shimasummarizedtheevolvingpurposeofthesecret
KyotoSchoolmeetingsinthreestages:Intheveryfirstmeetings(whichapparentlytookplacepriortothose
documentedintherecoverednotebooks),themainthemewashowtoavoidtheoutbreakofwar.Sincewar
infactbrokeoutverysoonthereafter,thethemequicklyswitchedtohowtobringthewartoafavorableend
assoonaspossible,bywayofrationallypursuadingthearmy.Todothistheyreportedlyagreedthatit
wouldbenecessarytooverthrowthecabinetofTjHideki.However,accordingtoshima,allcriticismof
TjandthearmyhadtobeexpurgatedinthediscussionspublishedinthepagesofChkron,andthe
statementsoftheKyotoSchoolhadtobeveiledintwoorthreelayersofclothinordertoavoidcensorship
andpersecution.Towardstheendofthewar,thethemeofthesecretmeetingsissaidtohavechangedtothat
ofhowtohandlethepostwarsituation.

Amongthesethreethemesonlythesecondisrecordedinanydetailinthenotebooksthatwererecently
discoveredandpublishedbyhashiastheshimaMemos.Althoughtheremaywellhavebeen
preliminarydiscussionsonhowtoavoidwar,moreexplicitreferencestooverthrowingTjHideki,and
morelengthydiscussionsaboutpostwarissues,thesedonotinfactshowupintherecoverednotebooks.
Nevertheless,theshimaMemosdoshowusamoredetailedanduncensoredaccountoftheKyoto
School'swarofthoughtontwofrontsduringatumultuousandtragictimeofwhatwas,infact,Japan's
imperialisticresponsetoWesternimperialism.

4.5AftertheWar:Tanabe'sMetanoeticTurnandNishitani'sOtherCheek
Theirambivalentwartimestancebetweensupportingthenationalisticideologyandsubjectingittoa
pluralisticandworldhistoricalcritiqueinotherwords,theirattempttowalkarazor'sedgeofcooperative
resistanceironicallyearnedtheKyotoSchoolasuspectreputationinJapanbothbeforeandaftertheend
ofthewar.AsNishitaniconfidedlatertoastudent:Duringthewarwewerestruckonthecheekfromthe
rightafterthewarwewerestruckonthecheekfromtheleft.

Duringthewar,thestanceoftheKyotoSchoolwasconsideredtoowordlyandinsufficientlynationalistic,
evenantiwar.ThediscussionspublishedinTheWorldHistoricalStandpointandJapanwerebrandedbythe
ImperialWayideologuesasivorytowerspeculationsthatriskedreducingtheEmpiretosimplyonemore
categoryofworldhistory,andfurtherprintingsofthebookwerereportedlystoppedbythegovernment
censors(seeHorio1994,291).Afterthewar,theKyotoSchool'sidealisticattemptstoimpartmeaningand
directiontoJapan'sworldhistoricalmissionwereseenespeciallybytheemergingLeftthathadatlong
lastbeenfreedfromrepressionandpersecutionassupportforitsdefactomilitaristicfascism.Nishitani
andotherswerepurgedforseveralyearsfromtheiruniversitypositions.Evenwhentheywerelater
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reinstated,thestigmaoftheKyotoSchoolashavingcooperatedinthewarwashardlyerased.Their
politicalthoughtinparticularwasdismissedintoto,anditwasnotuntildecadeslaterthatthetopicof
overcomingmodernitywasonceagaingivenseriouscriticalattention(seeKawakami/Takeuchi1979
Hiromatsu1989andhashi1992,143ff.).

TheKyotoSchoolthinkersrarelyrespondeddirectlytotheircriticsafterthewarandwecanonlyspeculate
onthereasonsforthis(seeHorio1994,300).Theyacceptedsuspensionfromtheirpostswithoutcommentor
complaint,andcontinuedonwiththeirphilosophizing,albeitwithouttheovertlypoliticalelementoftheir
thought.Nishitani,forexample,cameintohisownasaphilosopherofreligioninthepostwarera.He
continuedtophilosophicallydevelopEasternideas,thoseofZenBuddhisminparticular,indialoguewith
medievalChristianmysticismandpostmodernexistentialismandphenomenology,andinresponsetowhat
hesawasthecentralproblemofmodernity,namely,nihilism.Inhismatureattemptstoovercomenihilism
bywayofpassingthroughnihilism(NKCXX,192),wefindamarkedthreadofcontinuitywithhisprewar
andwartimeattemptstoovercome(Western)modernitybywayofpassingthroughit.Butitisnevertheless
possibletomarkacrucialandselfcriticalturninhisthinkingwithregardtothequestionofthepolitical
roleor,asitturnsout,thelackofonetobeplayedbytheJapanesestateinthisovercomingofmodernity
andnihilismbywayofpassingthroughthem(seeDavis2008b).

Tanabegotaheadstartonthepostwarcritics,andtowardstheendofthewarbeganthinkinghiswaythrough
aradicalcrisisofselfcritique.Hardlylesscontroversialthantheroundtablediscussionsoftheyounger
membersoftheKyotoSchoolhavebeenTanabe'sapplicationormisapplicationofhislogicofthe
specifictoadiscourseonthelegitimacyoftheselfassertionoftheJapanesenationasanarchetypefor
others.Thelogicofthespecifichadoriginallybeenconceived,incritiqueofBergsonandNishida,asa
reappraisalofthelogicalandethicalrolethatethnicspecificityplaysinmediatingtheparticularindividual
anduniversalhumanity.AdaptingHegel'spoliticalphilosophy,Tanabethoughtthatthenationstatecould
bothembodytheethnicspecificityofthepeopleandraiseitoutofitsinherentirrationality.Asaconcrete
universal,thenationwas,ifnottheAbsoluteitself,insomesensethedialecticalmanifestationofthe
absoluteonearth.

ThecriticallapsecamewhenTanabeirrationallyproposedthattherelativeabsoluteoftheJapanesenation
couldserveasakindofsupremearchetypeforothernations(seeTHZVI,23233).JamesHeisigwrites
that,insodoing,Tanabetookastepthatwasfatalbutreallyunnecessary,ifnotoutrightinconsistentwith
theprinciplesofhislogic.Accordingtohisownlogic,thecommunityofthehumanraceistobemadeup
ofacommunityofnationsthathavefoundawaytotranscendtheirspecificitywithouttranscendingtimeand
culture.Eachnationmaycomeaboutasaninstanceofthegenericuniversal,butnothinginthelogicofthe
specificallowsanyoneinstancetobecomeanarchetypefortheothers.ItisasifTanabewerequoting
himselfoutofcontext(Heisig2001,13637alsoseeHeisig1994).

Tanabefinallycametohissensesand,inastrikingmetanoeticturn,renouncedthesepoliticalassertionsand
doveintothephilosophyofreligion.PhilosophyasMetanoetics,thefirstpartsofwhichweredeliveredas
lecturesin1944beforetheendofthewar,wascomposednotonlyasapersonalselfcritique,butalsoasa
calltoselfcritiqueonthepartoftheentirenation,andindeedultimatelyasacallforanabsolutecritique
ofhumanrationalityassuch(seethePrefacetoTHZXTanabe1986).Itisthelastofthesethatisthecentral
themeofthebook:theideathatthehumanreasonisinevitablydriventoantinomiesthroughwhichitmust
repeatedlydietoitsownselfpowerinordertoberebornagainthroughtheworkingsofanOtherpower.Itis
neverthelesstruethatonelooksthroughthatworkinvainforanyadmissionofguiltforparticularactionsor
statementsthathehadmade(Heisig2001,151).Inanycase,Tanabe'sopen(ifvague)repentancewasno
moresuccessfulthanthesilenceofotherKyotoSchoolthinkersinconvincingthemajorityofpostwar
Japaneseacademicstorefrainfromthrowingoutthebabyoftheirphilosophicalinsightswiththebathwater
oftheirpoliticalmisadventures.

OnlyinthepasttwoorthreedecadeshasthereputationoftheKyotoSchoolbeguntobesignificantly
rehabilitatedinJapan,dueinparttoageneralrecoveryofthenationfromimmersioninthemarchofpostwar
economicprogressandevasionofunresolvedculturalaporias,inparttoageneralreaffirmationofcultural
identity(includingalltoooftenapendulumswingbacktoreassertionofJapaneseuniqueness),andinpart
tothepositiveattentiontheSchoolhasreceivedfromtheWest.Itisworthwhilenoting,asFujitaMasakatsu
doesinhisprefacetoThePhilosophyoftheKyotoSchool,thatpriorto2001surprisinglyfewarticlesor
bookshadappearedinJapanwithathematicfocusontheKyotoSchoolassuch,eventhoughhundredsof
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studieshadtreatedNishidaPhilosophy.Yettherearepromisingsignsthatwearestandingonthebrinkofa
newacademicerainwhichcriticalyetappreciativeworkontheKyotoSchoolcanbecooperatively
undertakeninJapan,intheWest,andrecentlyeveninotherpartsofEastAsia(seeFujitaetal.2003Heisig
2004SynthesisPhilosophica2004Fujita/Davis2005Hori/Curley2008Heisig/Uehara2008Lam/Cheung
2009Bouso/Heisig2009Davis/Schroeder/Wirth2011andElberfeld/Arisaka2014).

Despitethepersistenceofafactionofpolemicalintellectualhistorians,perhapswearereachingapoint
wherephilosophersworldwidearebeginningtoseethepoliticalmisadventuresoftheKyotoSchoolas
questionablefootnotestotheircentralphilosophicalendeavors,ratherthantheotherwayaround.While
researchintotheirpoliticalthoughtregardingwhatittriedtosaythenandregardingwhatitcanorcannot
helpustothinknowremainsnecessaryandimportant,attheendofthedaymanyarelikelytoagreewith
JamesHeisigwhenheemphaticallywrites:Onehastoignorethegreatestbulkofthewritingsofthese
thinkerstoarriveattheconclusionthatanythingapproachingorsupportingtheimperialisticideologyof
wartimeJapanbelongstothefundamentalinspirationoftheirthought(Heisig2001,6).Thephilosophical
andcrossculturallegacyoftheKyotoSchoollieselsewhere.

5.TheCrossCulturalLegacyoftheKyotoSchool
5.1BetweenorBeyondEastandWest?

Inthisconcludingsection,letusreturntothequestionofthelegacyoftheKyotoSchoolwithregardto
comparativeorcrossculturalphilosophy.Asmentionedattheoutset,theKyotoSchoolthinkerswereall
dedicatedscholarsofvariousfieldsandfiguresofWesternphilosophyandyet,atthesametimetheykept
onefootfirmlyintouchwiththeirnativeEastAsiantraditions,thoseofMahynaBuddhisminparticular.
ThisbipedalstanceplacedtheminanextraordinarypositionbetweenEastandWest.

However,theirphilosophiesdonotsimplydriftimpartiallyontheseasofacademiccomparison,nordothey
seethemselvesprimarilyasmediatorsofinterreligiousdialogue.Asexistentiallyengagedphilosophers,they
areaboveallseekersaftertruth,andtheyarguepassionatelyforthevalidityofseeingtheselfandtheworld
incertainways.Aswehaveseen,whileeachmemberoftheKyotoSchoolhashisownvisionofthetruth,
theysharecertainfundamentalideas,suchasoneoranotherversionofthecorenotionofabsolute
nothingnessandtheideaofcomingtoagenuineselfawarenessbywayofemptyingtheego.Andhowever
muchthemethodsandcontentsoftheirtextsdoindeedreflecttheirintimatedialoguewith,andcritical
appropriationofWesternphilosophy,onecouldwellarguethatmanyoftheirmainthesesneverthelessreflect
apredominantlyEasterninfluence.

Tobesure,thisdoesnotmeanthattheymerelygavemodernexpressiontotraditionalEastAsianBuddhist
thought.Itwouldbelessinaccuratetosaythattheirphilosophiesarecriticalandcreativedevelopmentsof
thattradition.Buteventhiswayofputtingitwouldnotdojusticetothesubstantial(i.e.,notjustformal)
influenceontheirthoughtbytheWesternphilosophieswithwhichtheygrappledsointensely.Although
Hisamatsu,Nishitani,UedaandothersdoexplicitlyphilosophizefromthestandpointofZen,andalthough
Takeuchi,Hase,andothersdosofromthestandpointofShinBuddhism,itwouldbemisleadingtosimply
andwithoutqualificationcharacterizeeitherNishida'sorTanabe'smultifacetedphilosophiesasEasternor
Buddhist.

Forexample,Tanabe'searlylogicofthespecific,withitsconcernforthemannerinwhichethnic
specificitymediatestheparticularindividualanduniversalhumanity,canbereadmoreasacritical
appropriationofHegeliandialecticallogicandpoliticalphilosophythanasastraightforwarddevelopmentof
EastAsianorBuddhistthought.Andinhisvariouslaterwritingsonthephilosophyofreligion,Tanabe
wandersbetweenapreferenceforShinBuddhism,Christianity,andfinallyZenBuddhism(seeHimi1990,
129341).WithregardtoNishida,anacuteconcernwithquestionsofepistemology,logic,individual
autonomy,creativity,andthehistoricityoftheworldareessentialtohisthoughtinwaysthataremore
modernWesternthantraditionalEasternandNishidaattimesexplicitlyindicateshisdissatisfaction
withwhatheseesasrelatedweaknessesintraditionalEasternthought.

Nevertheless,onemightrespond:evenifNishidamethodologicallytakeshisquestionsfromWestern
philosophy,hisresponsestothesequestionsreflecthisEastAsianrootsatleastasmuchashisWestern
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studies.TotheWesternontologicalquestionofbeing,hisanswerisameontologyofabsolutenothingness.
Andevenifhissystematicphilosophicalarticulationsoftheideaofabsolutenothingnessowemoreto
WesternthanEasterntexts,heneverthelessunderstandshimselftohaveautonomously(i.e.,intheprocessof
engaginginanonsectarianphilosophicalsearchfortruth)givenexpressiontotheformlessoriginthatis
harboredinthetraditionsoftheEast.InretrospectNishidawrote:ItisnotthatIconceivedofmywayof
thinkingindependenceonMahynaBuddhismandyetithascomeintoaccordwithit(NKZXIV,408).
NishitanicouldhavesaidsomethingsimilarofhiscareerpaththroughthestudyofWesternphilosophyand
mysticismandbacktothestandpointofZen.OtherKyotoSchoolthinkerstookevenlessofanOccidental
excursionbeforemakingwhatHlderlincalledahomecomingthoughtheforeign.Andsome,like
HisamatsuandTakeuchi,begantheirscholarlypursuitswithaselfunderstandingasaZenorShinBuddhist
thinker.

Whatisperhapsmostcontroversial,fromacrossculturalpoliticalpointofview,isNishida'sandother
KyotoSchoolthinkers'suggestionthatitismodernJapanesecultureandphilosophythat,tosomeextent
uniquely,hasthepotentialtobedevelopedsoastomakeroomforthecooperativemeetingofthestrengths
ofEastandWest(seeNKZXIV,41617alsoNishida1964,365).Whatarewetomakeofsuchbold
claims?Thereappeartobetwoproblematicalassertionsinvolved:first,anoverlygeneralized,ifnotattimes
hypostatized,splitofculturalspheresintoEastandWestandsecond,aclaimthatanideawithdeeper
rootsintheEast,namelyabsolutenothingness,canbedevelopedsoastoprovidethephilosophicalmeeting
placeofbothEastandWest.[18]

TheKyotoSchool'soccasionallysweepingdivisionofculturalspheresintoEastandWestnodoubtboth
revealsandconcealsasmuchasdoes,forexample,Heidegger'sclaimthattheentireWesterntraditionis
uniquelyfoundedonphilosophyasontotheology,andthattheexpressionWesternphilosophyistherefore
atautology(Heidegger1956,6).[19]EvensympatheticreadersoftheKyotoSchoolareoftenhighlycritical
ofthistypeofcomparativethinkingintermsofEastandWest.AlthoughheaffirmsthattheKyoto
schoolphilosophersgivethewestawayintotheeastlikenoneother,JamesHeisigcomplainsthatthe
EastwhichtheKyotoSchoolsetsupoveragainsttheWestissomethingofaninvention:Atbest,itis
oneconstellationofaheritagetoolongandtoopluraltoberepresentedfairlybyJapan(Heisig2001,271
72).JohnMaraldogoesfurtherandclaimsthattheproblemsNishidadealswithareuniversal,andhisway
ofdealingwiththemcontrastsasmuchwithotherAsianphilosophersaswithphilosophersofthesocalled
West(Maraldo1995,196).IsitnecessaryandarewereadytodoasMaraldosuggests,andputEastand
Westtorest?

Imyselfamhighlyambivalentregardingthiscomplexissue.WhileIcertainlyagreewiththewishtoavoid
overgeneralizationsandpoliticallychargedpolarizations,andwhileIthinkthewritingsoftheKyotoSchool
doneedtobereadcriticallyinthisregard,Iamequallywaryofaglobalizationofthoughtthatamountsto
acolonizationofnonWesterntraditionsbyWesternmethodsandcategoriesofthinking.Ialsocontinue
tobelievethatthethreadsoftheGrecoRomanJudeoChristianEuroAmericantraditionsandculturesare
woventightlyenoughtogethertowarrantprovisionallyandincertaincontextsspeakingoftheWest.Itis
truethattheEastmaybealesstightlywovensetoftraditionsandcultures,especiallyfromtheperspective
ofIndia(which,ofcourse,didnotappropriateanyChinesetraditionthewayChinaappropriatedBuddhism).
FromJapan'sperspective,however,especiallyfromaJapaneseBuddhistperspectivewhichintimately
weavestogetherIndoSinoJapanesethreads,itmayindeedmakesenseprovisionallyandincertaincontexts
tospeakintermsoftheEast.

Wecannotthinkwithoutabstractions,anditisnodoubtamatterofpracticalwisdom(phronesis)toknow
whentoconstructandwhentodeconstructgeneralizations.Thus,eventhoughwemustbecarefultodiscern
theappropriatecontextsinwhichitmakessensetospeakinsuchvastcategories,itisnomoreadvisableto
unequivocallyannihilatethecategoriesofWestandEastthanitistonarrowlydefineorabsolutizetheir
respectivecoherencesandmutualdifferences.

Withregardtothehermeneuticsofmoderncrossculturalthinking,ingeneralIbelievethattheattemptto
obliteratethebordersthatseparateculturalspheresisasperniciousastheattempttohermeticallysealthem
up.Ofcourse,thisgoesforintraaswellasintertraditionaldifferences.Needlesstosay,defining,
comparing,contrasting,andaboveallevaluatingtherelativeworthofvarioustraditions,remainundertakings
fraughtwiththeoretical,ethicalandpoliticalpitfalls.Thetheoreticalandculturallegaciesofcolonialismand
OrientalismremainwithuslongafterthepoliticalEmpireshavereceded.Moreover,inthesepostcolonial
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timeswealltoooftenexperiencereactivefabricationsofidentityandassertionsofcountersuperiority,
reactionswhichironicallyreinforcethesamekindofcolonialdivisionsandobsessionswithunadulterated
selfidentitythatwereimposedby,orimportedfrom,theworstoftheWest.

InJapan,certainretroactiveconstructionsofidentityandreactivecounterassertionsofsuperiorityhave
takentheformofwhatiscallednihonjinron:theoriesofJapanesenessorJapaneseuniqueness(seeDale
1986).InmodernJapanesehistory,suchreactiveculturalselfobsessionandselfassertionhastakeneither
theformofdenyingJapan'sdeeprootedtraditionalconnectionswithitsEastAsianneighbors,ortheformof
claimingthatJapanhasuniquelyembodiedandperfectedtheessenceoftheEast.Iftheformertypeof
claimismostinevidenceinpostwarandcontemporaryJapan,thelatterisfound,forexample,intheMeiji
thinkerOkakuraTenshin'sdeclarationthat,whileAsiaisone,Japanaloneistherealrepositoryofthe
trustofAsiaticthoughtandculture(Okakura2000,1and5).

WheredotheKyotoSchoolthinkersstandwithrespecttosuchculturewars?Tobesure,theChkron
discussionsinparticularoftenassertedthatmodernJapanwasuniquelysuitedtoinstituteandrepresentthe
GreaterEastAsiaCoProsperitySphere,andthisundoubtedlyreflectedawidespreadpostMeijiJapanese
conflationofpolitical,industrial,andmilitarydevelopmentwithculturalsuperiority.Nishidaalsofeltthat
modernJapanwasinaratheruniquepoliticalandculturalpositiontohostafruitfulmarriageofEastand
West,andTanabewentsofarastosetthenationofJapanupasanarchetypeforothers.IntheKyoto
School'swartimepoliticalwritings,thereindeedremainsmuchgristforthemillsofcontemporarycultural
critics,especiallyforthosewithhermeneuticalblindfoldsorallegedlyperfecthindsightvision.Yetacritique
oftheirpoliticalmisadventures,asnecessaryasitis,mayinfactrevealsomethingmoreperipheralthan
centraltothecrossculturalthinkingoftheKyotoSchool.Itisatleastnecessarytokeepbotheyesopen:one
readytocriticizeandtheotherwillingtolearn.

WeshouldnotethatevenwhenNishidabroadlycontrastsWesternbeingwithEasternnothingness,hein
factimmediatelygoesontoexplorefinerdistinctionsbetweentheGreek,Roman,andJudeoChristian
threadsoftheWesterntradition,andbetweentheIndian,Chinese,andJapanesethreadsoftheEastern
tradition.Ifhisessentializingorovergeneralizingofthesethreadsdoesremaininvariousrespects
problematic,itisneverthelesshardlythecasethatheandtheotherKyotoSchoolthinkersneverquestioned
thehomogeneityofeithertheEastortheWest.Secondly,althoughtheyhavebeenaccusedbothof
contributingtothemythofJapaneseuniquenessandofreverseOrientalism(seeDale1986andFaure
1995),thecaseisfarfromthissimple.InatimeofuncriticalculturalselfadulationbytheJapanese
ultranationalistsinpower,Nishidaboldlyurgedthatboththestrongpointsandweaknessesofourculture
shouldbeopenlyandhonestlypointedout,forwecannottakeanyonecultureandcallittheculture
(Nishida1964,351and353).

Fightingaconceptualwarsimultaneouslyontwofronts,againstWesternandJapaneseethnocentrisms,
NishidawrotethatuntilnowWesternershavethoughtthattheirowncultureisthemostsuperiorhuman
culturethatexists,andthathumancultureinevitablydevelopsinthedirectionoftheirownculturehence,
asEasternersandotherpeopleswhoarelaggingbehindadvanceforward,theymustbecomethesameas
[Westerners].EvensomeJapanese,heregrets,thinkthisway.Andyet,heobjects,thereissomething
radicallydifferentin[thecultureof]theEast.AccordingtoNishida,thedevelopmentoftheWestwill
subsumethisdifferencenomorethantheEastwillsubsumetheWest.Evenifhumanitydoessharea
commonroot(whathecalls,adaptinganexpressionfromGoethe,anurcultureofmultiplepossibilities),
thedevelopmentofitsbranchesandleavesisamatterofdiversification,nothomogenization.Globalization
shouldthusbethoughtof,inNishida'svision,asmanybranchesofthesametreesupplementingoneotheron
thebasisofboththeirdeeprootedcommonalityandtheirirreduciblediversity(NKZXIV,4026and417).

Tobesure,thereinevitablyremainsforusthequestionoftheplaceinwhichthisglobalcommunication
betweenculturesshouldtakeplace.Butwithoutaviewfromnowhere,canwenotonlyeverattemptto
criticallyandcreativelytakeupideasthathaveparticulargenealogiesanddialogicallydeveloptheminto
whatareprovisionallymoreuniversallyviableforms?Justasconceptsofdemocracy,hermeneutics,and
indeedphilosophiaitselfhaveparticularculturallineages,sodotheideasofnyat,mu,andthetrueselfas
anonegothatopensitselftoanencounterwithothersbyradicallyemptyingitself.Nevertheless,allofthese
ideasmayverywellcontributesomethingtoaninterculturaldialogueconcerningtheveryplaceinwhicha
genuineencounterbetweenculturesandindividualscanandshouldtakeplace.

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5.2JapanesePhilosophyintheWorld

Itisnot,therefore,necessarilyethnocentricforJapanesethinkerstosuggestthepotentialefficacyof
introducingintoaglobalphilosophicaldialogueideasderivedfromJapaneseorEasterntraditions.The
JapanesephilosophyoftheKyotoSchoolisbestunderstoodasacontributiontosuchanintercultural
conversation,andnotasareactiveoppositiontophilosophicalEurocentrism.Inanycase,wemustbecareful
inhowweunderstandthenounphilosophyandthemodifierJapanesewhenwespeakofJapanese
philosophy.

TheKyotoSchoolhasneverdoubtedthatphilosophy,inthehistoricallyspecificsense,istobeginwitha
culturalproductoftheWest.Buttheyalsorecognizethatit,likeWesternscienceandtechnology,has
universalimplications.ThisdoesnotmeanthattheythinkWesternphilosophyisfreeofunrecognized
culturalbiasesandlimitations,orthattraditionalEasternthoughthasnothingessentialtoofferthe
developmentofphilosophyinapostEurocentricworld.Theyrecognizethedifferencebetweenthe
potentialitiesandtheactualityofphilosophy,andtheirJapanesecontributionsaimtomakephilosophymore,
notless,worldly.

InanilluminatingstudyofthedebatessurroundingtheconceptofphilosophyinJapansincetheMeiji
period(18681912),JohnMaraldohasisolatedfoursensesinwhichthenotionofJapanesephilosophyhas
beenused:(1)WesternphilosophyasithappenstobepracticedbyJapanesescholars(2)traditional
Japanesethought(Confucian,Nativist,Buddhist,etc.)asitwasformulatedpriortotheintroductionof
Westernphilosophy(3)aformofinquirywhichhasmethodsandthemesthatareWesterninorigin,butthat
canbeappliedtopremodern,preWesternized,Japanesethinkingand(4)akindofreverseOrientalismthat
assertsthesuperiorityofspecificallyJapanesewaysofthinking.

Maraldoarguesforthesuperiorviabilityofthethirdoftheseconceptions,inpartbecauseitpaysdue
hermeneuticalattentiontotheGreekoriginsoftheheretoforeprevailingmethodsandthemesof
philosophy.Andyet,crucially,healsostressesthattheverymethodsandthemesofphilosophyare
essentiallyalwaysinthemaking,andthattheproductionofJapanesephilosophywillhavetostrikea
balancebetweenreading(predefined)philosophyinto[Japan'straditional]textsandreadingalternativesout
ofthem,constructingcontraststothat[predefined]philosophy[oftheWest](Maraldo2004,23844).The
KyotoSchoolinparticularcanbeunderstoodtohavetakenupthechallengeofcriticallyandcreatively
appropriatingphilosophysoastofreeupforquestioningmanyofitspredefinedWesternconceptions.

AtextbyUedaonNishitani'sphilosophyinsightfullyaddressesthequestionoftheadjective,Japanese,as
follows:IfwearetousethecharacterizationJapanese,thisdoesnotsignifymerelyaparticularityof
Japan,butrathermustbeunderstoodinthesensethatacertainareaofuniversalprimalhumanpossibilityhas
beenhistoricallyrealizedparticularlyinJapan.Hence,Europeandoesnotstraightawaymeanglobal,but
ratherthatacertainareaofuniversalprimalhumanpossibilityhasbeenhistoricallyrealizedparticularlyin
Europe.Ifweunderstandourselvesastheparticularizationofsomethinguniversal,thismeans,atthe
sametime,thatwecanunderstandothersasdifferentparticularizationsofsomethinguniversal.Onlythen,
withthecommunicationbetweenparticularandparticular,cansomethinguniversalcometoberealized
(Ueda1996,309).

Inthispassage,whichrecallsNishida'svisionofcommunicationbetweendiverselydeterminedbranchesofa
sharedyetessentiallyindeterminaterooturculture,Uedagivesusaclueastohowwemightbestunderstand
thecrossculturalcontributionsoftheKyotoSchool.Theyarephilosopherswhostrivetoexpresssomething
universalfromaparticularstandpoint.Butthisdoesnotatallmeanthattheyattempttoreduceuniversality
totheirownparticularityforthelatterisinturnunderstoodasoneparticularexpressionoftheformlessur
culture,theindeterminatesourceofpossibilitiesforindividualandculturaldetermination,thatistosay,the
originarynothingnessthatweallshare.TheKyotoSchoolthuspresentsuswithauniquesetofattemptsto
givephilosophicalformtothisformlesswellspringofbothcommonalityandsingularity.

ThedegreetowhichtheKyotoSchoolthinkersweresuccessfulintheirboldlyparadoxicalquesttogive
philosophicalformtotheformlesscanbedebated.Itislesseasytodenytheexigencyofthequestitself.If
philosophytodayistomaturebeyonditsEurocentricpubescence,thenitisnecessarytodeepenitsquestfor
universalitybywayofradicallyopeningituptoadiversityofculturalperspectives.Ifculturalpluralism,for
itspart,istoavoidfallingintoarelativisticantagonismorisolationism,itmustcallforametamorphosis
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ratherthananabandonmentofthephilosophicalquestforuniversality(seeFujita2013Maraldo2013).In
anycase,weshouldunderstandthethoughtoftheKyotoSchool,notasexclusivelyJapaneseversionsof
philosophy,butratherasJapanesecontributionstothecontentofandindeedtotheveryformationofthe
forumofaglobaldialogueofphilosophyinthemaking.

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AbbreviationsUsedinthisArticle

NKCNishitaniKeijichosakush[CollectedWorksofNishitaniKeiji],Tokyo:Sbunsha,198695.(Volume
numbersaregiveninRomannumerals.)
NKZNishidaKitarzensh[CompleteWorksofNishidaKitar],Tokyo:Iwanami,198789.(Volume
numbersaregiveninRomannumerals.)
THZTanabeHajimezensh[CompleteWorksofTanabeHajime],Tokyo:ChikumaShob,1964.(Volume
numbersaregiveninRomannumerals.)
USSUedaShizuterush[CollectedWritingsofUedaShizuteru],Tokyo:Iwanami,20012003.(Volume
numbersaregiveninRomannumerals.)

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,2001,PhilosophersofNothingness:AnEssayontheKyotoSchool,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaii
Press.
(ed.),2004,JapanesePhilosophyAbroad,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
(ed.),2006,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
Heisig,JamesW.,ThomasP.KasulisandJohnC.Maraldo(eds.),2011,JapanesePhilosophy:ASourcebook,
Honolulu:HawaiiUniversityPress.
Heisig,JamesW.andJohnC.Maraldo(eds.),1994,RudeAwakenings:Zen,TheKyotoSchool,andthe
QuestionofNationalism,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.
Heisig,JamesW.andUeharaMayuko(eds.),2008,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy3:Originsand
Possibilities,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
Himi,Kiyoshi,1990,Tanabetetsugakukenky:Shkygakunokantenkara[StudiesinthePhilosophyof
Tanabe:FromthePerspectiveofReligiousStudies],Tokyo:Hokujushuppan.
Hiromatsu,Wataru,1989,Kindainochkokuron[TheoriesonOvercomingModernity],Tokyo:
Kdansha.
HisamatsuShin'ichi,1960,TheCharacteristicsofOrientalNothingness,RichardDeMartino(trans.),
PhilosophicalStudiesofJapan2:6597.
Hori,VictorSgenandMelissaAnneMarieCurley(eds.),2008,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy3:
OriginsandPossibilities,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
Horio,Tsutomu,1994,TheChkronDiscussions,TheirBackgroundandMeaning,inHeisig/Maraldo
1994,pp.289315.
Ives,Christopher(ed.),1995,DivineEmptinessandHistoricalFullness:ABuddhistJewishChristian
ConversationwithMasaoAbe,ValleyForge,Pennsylvania:TrinityPressInternational.
Izutsu,Toshihiko(trans.),2001,Laotzu:TheWayandItsVirtue,Tokyo:KeioUniversityPress.(Abilingual
edition)
JacintoZavala,Agustn,2001,OnSomeElementsoftheConceptofBasho,DokkyoInternationalReview
14:119134.
Kasulis,T.P.,1981,ZenAction/ZenPerson,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.
Kawakami,Tetsutar,TakeuchiYoshimietal.,1979,Kindainochkoku[TheOvercomingofModernity],
Sendai:Fuzanb.
KennethK.Inada,1993,Ngrjuna:ATranslationofhisMlamadhyamakakrikwithanIntroductory
Essay,Delhi:SriSatguruPublications.
Kopf,Gereon,2004,BetweenIdentityandDifference:ThreeWaysofReadingNishida'sNonDualism,
JapaneseJournalofReligiousStudies31/1:73103.
Ksaka,Masaaki,NishitaniKeiji,KyamaIwao,andSuzukiShigetaka,1943,SekaishitekitachibatoNihon
[TheWorldHistoricalStandpointandJapan],Tokyo:Chkronsha.
Krummel,JohnW.M.,2012,Basho,World,andDialectics:AnIntroductiontothePhilosophyofNishida
Kitar,inNishida2012a,pp.348.
Lai,Whalen,1990,TanabeandtheDialecticsofMediation:ACritique,inTheReligiousPhilosophyof
TanabeHajime,TaitetsuUnnoandJamesW.Heisig(eds.),Berkeley:AsianHumanitiesPress,pp.256
276.
Lam,WingkeungandCheungChingyuen(eds.),2009,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy4:Facingthe
21stCentury,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
Maraldo,John,1995,TheProblemofWorldCulture:TowardsanAppropriationofNishida'sPhilosophyof
NationandCulture,TheEasternBuddhist28/2:183197.
,2004,DefiningPhilosophyintheMaking,inHeisig2004,pp.220245.
,2005,beinoshitenkaramitaKytogakuhanoyuraitoyukue[TheWhenceandWhitherofthe
KyotoSchoolfromaWesternPerspective],AzumiYurika(trans.),inFujita/Davis2005,pp.3156.
,2006,TheWarOvertheKyotoSchool,MonumentaNipponica61/3(Autumn2006):375401.
,2013,JapanesePhilosophyasaLensonGrecoEuropeanThought,JournalofJapanesePhilosophy1:
2156.
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Minamoto,Ryen,1994,TheSymposiumonOvercomingModernity,inHeisig/Maraldo1994.
Najita,TetsuoandH.D.Harootunian,1998,Japan'sRevoltagainsttheWest,inModernJapanese
Thought,BobTadashiWakabayashi(ed.),Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,pp.207272.
Nakamura,Hajime(ed.),1975,Bukkygodaijiten[LargeDictionaryofBuddhistTerms],Tokyo:
Tkyshoseki.
Nakamura,Yjir,1983,NishidaKitar,Tokyo:Iwanami.
Nishida,Kitar,1958,IntelligibilityandthePhilosophyofNothingness,RobertSchinzinger(trans.),
Honolulu:EastWestCenterPress.
,1964,TheProblemofJapaneseCulture,MasaoAbe(trans.),inSourcesofJapaneseTradition,Vol.2,
RyusakuTsunodaetal.(eds.),NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress,pp.350365.
,1970,FundamentalProblemsofPhilosophy,DavidA.Dilworth(trans.),Tokyo:SophiaUniversity
Press.
,1987,LastWritings:NothingnessandtheReligiousWorldview,DavidA.Dilworth(trans.),Honolulu:
UniversityofHawaiiPress.
,1990,AnInquiryintotheGood,MasaoAbeandChristopherIves(trans.),NewHaven:YaleUniversity
Press.
,2012a,PlaceandDialectic:TwoEssaysbyNishidaKitar,JohnW.M.KrummelandShigenori
Nagatomo(trans.),OxfordandNewYork:OxfordUniversityPress.
Nishimura,Eshin(ed.),1994,Mumonkan[TheGatelessBarrier],Tokyo:Iwanami.
Nishitani,Keiji,1982,ReligionandNothingness,JanVanBragt(trans.),Berkeley:UniversityofCalifornia
Press.
,1990,TheSelfOvercomingofNihilism,GrahamParkeswithSetsukoAihara(trans.),Albany:SUNY.
,1991,NishidaKitar,YamamotoSeisakuandJamesW.Heisig(trans.),Berkeley:Universityof
CaliforniaPress.
,2004,TheIThouRelationinZenBuddhism,inFrank2004,pp.2953.
,2006,OnBuddhism,SeisakuYamamotoandRobertE.Carter(trans.),Albany:StateUniversityofNew
YorkPress.
hashi,Rysuke,1984,ZeitlichkeitsanalysederHegelschenLogik.ZurIdeeeinerPhnomenologiedes
Ortes,Munich:KarlAlber.
(ed.),1990,revisededition2012,DiePhilosophiederKytoSchule,Freiburg:KarlAlber.
,1992,Nihontekinamono,Yroppatekinamono[ThingsJapanese,ThingsEuropean],Tokyo:
Shinchsha.
,2001,KytogakuhatoNihonkaigun[TheKyotoSchoolandtheJapaneseNavy],Kyoto:PHPShinsho.
(ed.),2004,Kytogakuhanoshis[TheThoughtoftheKyotoSchool],Kyoto:Jinbunshoin.
shima,Yasuma,2000,DaitasenstoKytogakuha:Chishikijinnoseijisankanitsuite[ThePacificWar
andtheKyotoSchool:OnthePoliticalParticipationofIntellectuals],inSekaishinoriron:Kytogakuha
norekishigakuronk[TheoryofWorldHistory:TheKyotoSchool'sWritingsonHistory],MoriTetsur
(ed.),Kyoto:Teisha,pp.274304.
Panikkar,K.M.,1969,AsiaandWesternDominance,CollierBooks.
Parkes,Graham,1884,NietzscheandNishitaniontheSelfthroughTime,TheEasternBuddhist17/2:55
74.
(ed.),1987,HeideggerandAsianThought,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.
,1996,NietzscheandEastAsianThought:Influences,Impacts,andResonances,inTheCambridge
CompaniontoNietzsche,BerndMagnusandKathleenM.Higgins(eds.),Cambridge:Cambridge
UniversityPress,pp.356383.
,1997,ThePutativeFascismoftheKyotoSchoolandthePoliticalCorrectnessoftheModern
Academy,PhilosophyEastandWest47/3:305336.
,2011,HeideggerandJapaneseFascism:AnUnsubstantiatedConnection,inDavis/Schroeder/Wirth
2011,pp.247265.
Plato,1961,TheCollectedDialoguesofPlato,EdithHamiltonandHuntingtonCairns(eds.),Princeton:
PrincetonUniversityPress.
Said,Edward,1978,Orientalism,NewYork:VintageBooks.
,1993,CultureandImperialism,NewYork:VintageBooks.
Schrmann,Reiner,1978,MeisterEckhart:MysticandPhilosopher,Bloomington:IndianaUniversityPress.
Sugimoto,Kichi,2011,TanabeHajime'sLogicofSpeciesandthePhilosophyofNishidaKitar:ACritical
DialoguewithintheKyotoSchool,inDavis/Schroeder/Wirth2011,pp.5267.
SynthesisPhilosophica37,2004,Zagreb,Croatia.(AspecialissuedevotedtoJapanesePhilosophy.)

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Takeuchi,Yoshinori,1999,TakeuchiYoshinorichosakush[CollectedWorksofTakeuchiYoshinori],Kyoto:
Hzkan.
Tanabe,Hajime,1986,PhilosophyasMetanoetics,TakeuchiYoshinori(trans.),Berkeley:Universityof
CaliforniaPress.
,2000,ZangedtoshitenotetsugakuShinotetsugaku[PhilosophyastheWayofMetanoetics,The
PhilosophyofDeath],HaseSht(ed.),Kyoto:Teisha.
,2003,Shkytetsugakunokadaitozentei[TheTasksandPresuppositionsofthePhilosophyof
Religion],inBukkytoseiytetsugaku[BuddhismandWesternPhilosophy],TanabeHajime,Kosaka
Kunitsugu(ed.),Tokyo:Kobushibunko,pp.942.
Ueda,Shizuteru,1991,Ikirutoiukoto:keikentojikaku[WhatisCalledLife:ExperienceandSelf
Awareness],Kyoto:Jinbunshoin.
,1994,Nishida,Nationalism,andtheWarinQuestion,inHeisig/Maraldo1994,pp.77106.
,1996,NishitaniKeiji:Shkytohishkynoaida[NishitaniKeiji:BetweenReligionandNon
Religion],inShkytohishkynoaida[BetweenReligionandNonReligion],NishitaniKeiji,Ueda
Shizuteru(ed.),Tokyo:Iwanami,pp.287316.
,2011a,ContributionstoDialoguewiththeKyotoSchool,BretW.Davis(trans.),in
Davis/Schoeder/Wirth2011,pp.1932.
,2011b,LanguageinaTwofoldWorld,BretW.Davis(trans.),inHeisig/Kasulis/Maraldo2011,pp.
765784.
,2011c,Werundwasbinich:ZurPhnomenologiedesSelbstimZenBuddhismus,Freiburg:VerlagKarl
Alber.
Ueda,Yoshifumi,1990,Tanabe'sMetanoeticsandShinran'sThought,inTheReligiousPhilosophyof
TanabeHajime,TaitetsuUnnoandJamesW.Heisig(eds.),Berkeley:AsianHumanitiesPress,pp.134
149.
Wagner,RudolfG.,2003,AChineseReadingoftheDaodejing:WangBi'sCommentaryontheLaoziwith
CriticalTextandCommentary,Albany:StateUniversityofNewYorkPress.
Wargo,RobertJ.J.,2005,TheLogicofNothingness:AStudyofNishidaKitar,Honolulu:Universityof
HawaiiPress.
Watson,Burton,1968,TheCompleteWorksofChuangTzu,NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress.
Wilkinson,Robert,2009,NishidaandWesternPhilosophy,Surrey,UK:Ashgate.
Williams,Paul,1989,MahynaBuddhism:TheDoctrinalFoundations,London/NewYork:Routledge.
Yusa,Michiko,1994,NishidaandTotalitarianism:APhilosopher'sResistance,inHeisig/Maraldo1994,
pp.107131.
Zhang,Dainian,2002,KeyConceptsinChinesePhilosophy,EdmundRyden(trans.),NewHavenand
London:YaleUniversityPress.

SelectedKyotoSchoolWorksavailableinEnglishandotherWesternlanguages

AnthologiescontainingworksbymorethanoneKyotoSchoolauthor

Thetextscontainedintheseanthologiesarenotlistedhereseparately.(ForacompletelistofWestern
languagetranslationsofworksbyNishida,Tanabe,Nishitani,Takeuchi,andUeda,seetheNanzanInstitute
forReligionandCulturewebsitelistedbelow.)

Dilworth,DavidA.andValdoH.ViglielmowithAgustnJacintoZavala(eds.),1998,Sourcebookfor
ModernJapanesePhilosophy:SelectedDocuments.Westport:GreenwoodPress.(Avaluableanthology
containingtranslationsofselectedworksbyNishida,Tanabe,Kuki,Watsuji,Miki,Tosaka,and
Nishitani,togetherwithhelpfuleditorialmaterial.)
Frank,Fredrick(ed.),2004(firstedition1982),TheBuddhaEye:AnAnthologyoftheKyotoSchool,
Bloomington:WorldWisdom.(WhilesomewhatmisnamedasananthologyoftheKyotoSchool,this
collectiondoesincludeagoodselectionofessaysbyNishitani,Ueda,andothermodernJapanese
religiousthinkers.)
Heisig,JamesW.,ThomasP.KasulisandJohnC.Maraldo(eds.),2011,JapanesePhilosophy:ASourcebook,
Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.(Thisencyclopedicanthologycontainsaselectionof
representativeworksbyallmembersof,andthinkersaffiliatedwith,theKyotoSchool.)
JacintoZavala,Augustn(ed.),1995,Textosdelafilosofajaponesa,Michoacn:ElColegiodeMichoacn.

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hashi,Rysuke(ed.),1990,revisededition2012,DiePhilosophiederKytoSchule,Freiburg:KarlAlber.
(Thislandmarkanthologycontainsvaluableintroductionsbytheeditor,aswellasGermantranslations
ofkeyessaysbyNishida,Tanabe,Hisamatsu,Nishitani,KyamaIwao,KsakaMasaaki,Shimomura
Toratar,SuzukiShigetaka,TakeuchiYoshinori,TsujimuraKichi,andUedaShizuteru.)

OtherKyotoSchoolWorks

Abe,Masao,1985,ZenandWesternThought,WilliamR.LaFleur(ed.),London:MacmillanPress
(publishedinNorthAmericabyUniversityofHawaiiPress).
,1990,KenoticGodandDynamicSunyata,inTheEmptyingGod:ABuddhistJewishChristian
ConversationwithMasaoAbeonGod,Kenosis,andSunyata,JohnB.Cobb,Jr.andChristopherIves
(eds.),Maryknoll,NewYork:OrbisBooks,pp.365.
,1997,ZenandComparativeStudies,StevenHeine(ed.),London:MacmillanPress(publishedinNorth
AmericabyUniversityofHawaiiPress).
,2003,ZenandtheModernWorld,StevenHeine(ed.),Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.(Includes
Abe'sarticlesonNishida.)
Hanaoka,Eiko,2009,ZenandChristianity:FromtheStandpointofAbsoluteNothingness,Kyoto:Maruzen.
Hisamatsu,Shin'ichi,1960,TheCharacteristicsofOrientalNothingness,RichardDeMartino(trans.),
PhilosophicalStudiesofJapan2:6597.
,2002,CriticalSermonsoftheZenTradition,ChristopherIvesandTokiwaGishin(ed.andtrans.),New
York:Palgrave.
,2012,ZenandtheFineArts,GishinTokiwa(trans.),Tokyo:Kodansha.
Kuki,Shz,2004,APhilosopher'sPoetryandPoetics,MichaelF.Marra(trans.anded.),Honolulu:
UniversityofHawaiiPress.
,2004,TheStuctureofIki,inTheStructureofDetachment:TheAestheticVisionofKukiShz,Hiroshi
Nara(ed.),Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.
Nishida,Kitar,1958,IntelligibilityandthePhilosophyofNothingness,RobertSchinzinger(trans.),
Honolulu:EastWestCenterPress.(Containstranslationsofthreeimportantessays.)
,1964,TheProblemofJapaneseCulture,MasaoAbe(trans.),inSourcesofJapaneseTradition,Vol.2,
RyusakuTsunodaetal.(eds.),NewYork:ColumbiaUniversityPress,pp.350365.
,1970,FundamentalProblemsofPhilosophy,DavidA.Dilworth(trans.),Tokyo:SophiaUniversity
Press.
,1973,ArtandMorality,DavidA.Dilworth(trans.),Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.
,1986,TheLogicofToposandtheReligiousWorldview,MichikoYusa(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist
19/2:129&20/1:81119.
,1987,IntuitionandReflectioninSelfConsciousness,ValdoViglielmoetal.(trans.),NewYork,SUNY.
,1987,LastWritings:NothingnessandtheReligiousWorldview,DavidA.Dilworth(trans.),Honolulu:
UniversityofHawaiiPress.(ContainsatranslationofTheLogicofPlaceandtheReligiousWorld
viewaswellasintroductoryandcriticalessaysbythetranslator.)
,1990,AnInquiryintotheGood,MasaoAbeandChristopherIves(trans.),NewHaven:YaleUniversity
Press.
,1990,Laculturejaponaiseenquestion,PierreLavelle(trans.),Paris:PublicationsOrientalistesde
France.
,1999,LogikdesOrtes.DerAnfangdermodernenPhilosophieinJapan,RolfElberfeld(trans.),
Darmstadt:WissenschaftlicheBuchgesellschaft.(ContainstranslationsofNishida'sprefacestohis
booksandofthreeofhiskeyessays.)
,1999,Logiquedulieuetvisionreligieusedemonde,SugimuraYasuhikoandSylvainCardonnel(trans.),
Paris:EditionsOsiris.
,2005,GeneralSummaryfromTheSystemofSelfConsciousnessoftheUniversal,inRobertJ.J.,
Wargo,TheLogicofNothingness:AStudyofNishidaKitar,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress,
pp.186216.
,2012a,PlaceandDialectic:TwoEssaysbyNishidaKitar,JohnW.M.KrummelandShigenori
Nagatomo(trans.),OxfordandNewYork:OxfordUniversityPress.(ContainstranslationsofBasho
[Place]andLogicandLifeaswellasaninsightfulandinformativeintroductionbyJohnKrummel.)
,2012b,OntologyofProduction,WilliamHaver(trans.),DurhamandLondon:DukeUniversityPress.
(ContainstranslationsofExpressiveActivity,TheStandpointofActiveIntuition,andHuman
Being.)
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Nishitani,Keiji,1982,ReligionandNothingness,JanVanBragt(trans.),Berkeley:UniversityofCalifornia
Press.
,1984,TheStandpointofZen,JohnC.Maraldo(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist18/1:126.
,1986,WasisReligion?,DoraFischerBarnicol(trans.),Frankfurt:InselVerlag.
,1990,TheSelfOvercomingofNihilism,GrahamParkeswithSetsukoAihara(trans.),Albany:SUNY.
,1991,NishidaKitar,YamamotoSeisakuandJamesW.Heisig(trans.),Berkeley:Universityof
CaliforniaPress.
,1999,EmptinessandSameness,inModernJapaneseAesthetics,MicheleMarra(ed.),Honolulu:
UniversityofHawaiiPress.
,1999,Lareliginylanada,RaquelBousoGarca(trans.),Madrid:EdicionesSiruela.
,2006,OnBuddhism,SeisakuYamamotoandRobertE.Carter(trans.),Albany:SUNY.
Takeuchi,Yoshinori,1983,TheHeartofBuddhism,JamesW.Heisig(ed.andtrans.),NewYork:Crossroad.
Tanabe,Hajime,1959,Todesdialektik,inMartinHeideggerzumsiebzigstenGeburtstag:Festschrift,
GntherNeske(ed.),Pfullingen:Neske,pp.93133.
,1969,TheLogicofSpeciesasDialectics,DavidDilworthandSatTaira(trans.),Monumenta
Nipponica24/3:27388.
,1986,PhilosophyasMetanoetics,TakeuchiYoshinori(trans.),Berkeley:UniversityofCaliforniaPress.
Ueda,Shizuteru,1965,DieGottesgeburtinderSeeleundderDurchbruchzuGott.Diemystische
AnthropologieMeisterEckhartsundihreKonfrontationmitderMystikdesZenBuddhismus.Gtersloh:
GtersloherVerlagshausGerdMohn.
,1982,EmptinessandFullness:nyatinMahynaBuddhism,JamesW.HeisigandFrederick
Greiner(trans),TheEasternBuddhist15.1:937.(OutlinesmanyofthecontoursofUeda's
understandingofZenbywayofinterpretingtheTenOxherdingPictures.)
,1983a,AscentandDescent:ZenBuddhisminComparisonwithMeisterEckhart(Part1),JamesW.
Heisig(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist16.1:5273.
,1983b,AscentandDescent:ZenBuddhisminComparisonwithMeisterEckhart(Part2),IanAstly
andJamesW.Heisig(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist16.2:7291.
,1989,TheZenBuddhistExperienceoftheTrulyBeautiful,JohnC.Maraldo(trans.),TheEastern
Buddhist22.1:136.
,1990,FreedomandLanguageinMeisterEckhartandZenBuddhism(PartOne),RichardF.Szippl
(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist23.2:1859.
,1991,FreedomandLanguageinMeisterEckhartandZenBuddhism(PartTwo),RichardF.Szippl
(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist24.1:5280.
,1992,ThePlaceofManintheNohPlay,PaulShepherd(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist25.2:5988.
(Inthefirstpartofthisessay,Uedaoutlineshisaccountoflivinginthedoubleworld.)
,1993a,ZenandPhilosophyintheThoughtofNishidaKitar,MarkUnno(trans.),JapaneseReligions
18.2:162193.(ExaminesNishida'searlyattempttodevelopaphilosophyofpureexperienceonthe
basisofhispracticeofZen.)
,1993b,PureExperience,SelfAwareness,Basho,EtudesPhnomnologiques18:6386.
,1994a,ThePracticeofZen,RonHadleyandThomasL.Kirchner(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist27.1:
1029.(SuccinctlyintroducesUeda'sinterpretationofthepracticeofZen.)
,1994b,Nishida,Nationalism,andtheWarinQuestion,inHeisig/Maraldo1994,pp.77106.(Ueda's
influentialresponsetothecontroversysurroundingNishida'spoliticalwritings.)
,1995,Nishida'sThought,JanVanBragt(trans.),TheEasternBuddhist28/1:2947.
,2004,Zenylafilosofia,RaquelBouso(ed.),Barcelona:EditorialHerder.
,2011a,ContributionstoDialoguewiththeKyotoSchool,BretW.Davis(trans.),in
Davis/Schoeder/Wirth2011,pp.1932.(Inthisessaycomposedespeciallyforthisvolume,Ueda
reflectsontheproblemofnihilisminanageofglobalizationandonthecontributionstoaglobal
philosophicaldialoguemadebyNishida'sphilosophyofabsolutenothingnessandNishitani's
philosophyofemptiness.)
,2011b,LanguageinaTwofoldWorld,BretW.Davis(trans.),inHeisig/Kasulis/Maraldo2011,pp.
765784.(Basedontextsoriginallywrittenin1990and1997,Uedapreparedthisessaytorepresenthis
thoughtinthisfirstcomprehensivesourcebookofJapanesephilosophy.)
,2011c,Werundwasbinich:ZurPhnomenologiedesSelbstimZenBuddhismus,Freiburg:VerlagKarl
Alber.(AvaluablecollectionofsomeofUeda'sessayswritteninGerman.Earlierversionsofthefirst
fourchaptersareavailableinEnglishtranslationinUeda1982,1989,1992,and1983a.Forareviewof
thisbookandoverviewofUeda'sthought,seeDavis2013g).

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Watsuji,Tetsur,1988,ClimateandCulture:APhilosophicalStudy,GeoffreyBownas(trans.),NewYork:
GreenwoodPress.
,1996,WatsujiTetsur'sRinrigaku:EthicsinJapan,YamamotoSeisakuandRobertCarter(trans.),
Albany:SUNYPress.

FurtherReading

SpecialIssuesofJournals

AllgemeineZeitschriftfrPhilosophie36/3,2011.(AspecialissuedevotedtoNishida'sphilosophy.)
TheEasternBuddhistNewSeries25/1,1992.(Aspecialedition,InMemoriamNishitaniKeiji1900
1990.)
TheEasternBuddhistNewSeries28/2,1995.(ANishidaKitarMemorialIssue.)
tudesphnomnologique18,1993.(AspecialissuedevotedtoL'coledeKyto.)
JournalofJapanesePhilosophy1,2013.(ThefirstissueofthisnewjournalcontainsarticlesthattreatKyoto
Schoolphilosophers,aswillpresumablysubsequentissues.)
RevuephilosophiquedeLouvain,1994(no.4,Novembre).(Aspecialissuedevotedtothetheme:La
rceptioneuropennedel'coledeKyto.)
SynthesisPhilosophica37,2004,Zagreb,Croatia.(AspecialissuedevotedtoJapanesePhilosophy,with
articlesinGerman,English,andFrench,manyofwhicharewrittenbyleadingJapanesescholarsofthe
KyotoSchool.)
ZenBuddhismToday14,1997.(Animportantcollectionofarticlesonthetheme:Religionandthe
ContemporaryWorldinLightofNishitaniKeiji'sThought.)
ZenBuddhismToday15,1998.(Animportantcollectionofarticlesonthetheme:Nishida'sPhilosophy,
Nishitani'sPhilosophy,andZen.)

OtherWorks

Abe,Masao,1997,BuddhisminJapan,inCompanionEncyclopediaofAsianPhilosophy,BrianCarrand
IndiraMahalingam(eds.),LondonandNewYork:Routledge,pp.746791.(Providesanoverviewof
thehistoryofJapaneseBuddhism,endingwithD.T.SuzukiasamodernBuddhistthinkerandNishida
asaBuddhisminspiredphilosopher.)
Arisaka,Yoko,1999,BeyondEastandWest:Nishida'sUniversalismandPostcolonialCritique,inBorder
Crossings:TowardaComparativePoliticalTheory,FredDallmayr(ed.),NewYork:LexingtonBooks,
pp.237252.(AninsightfulcriticaltreatmentoftheambiguitiesinNishida'sculturalandpolitical
philosophy.)
Berque,Augustin(ed.),2000,Logiquedulieuetdpassementedelamodernit,twovolumes,Bruxelles:
Ousia.
Bouso,RaquelandJamesW.Heisig(eds.),2009,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy6:Confluencesand
CrossCurrents,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
Bowers,RussellH.Jr.,1995,SomeoneorNothing:Nishitani'sReligionandNothingnessasaFoundation
forChristianBuddhistDialogue,NewYork:PeterLang.
Buchner,Harmut(ed.),1989,JapanundHeidegger,Sigmaringen:Thorbecke.(Containsdocumentsof,and
essaysabout,therelationbetweenHeideggerandtheKyotoSchool.)
Buri,Fritz,1997,TheBuddhaChristastheLordoftheTrueSelf:TheReligiousPhilosophyoftheKyoto
SchoolandChristianity,Macon:MercerUniversityPress.
Carter,RobertE.,1997,TheNothingnessBeyondGod:AnIntroductiontothePhilosophyofNishidaKitar,
secondedition,St.Paul:ParagonHouse.
,2013,TheKyotoSchool:AnIntroduction,withaforwardbyThomasP.Kasulis,Albany:State
UniversityofNewYorkPress.
Cobb,JohnB.Jr.andChristopherIves(eds.),1990,TheEmptyingGod:ABuddhistJewishChristian
ConversationwithMasaoAbeonGod,Kenosis,andSunyata,Maryknoll,NewYork:OrbisBooks.
Dale,Peter,1986,TheMythofJapaneseUniqueness,NewYork:St.Martin'sPress.(Ahighlycriticalstudy
ofJapaneseculturalnationalism.)
Davis,BretW.,2002,IntroducingtheKyotoSchoolasWorldPhilosophy:ReflectionsonJames.W.
Heisig'sPhilosophersofNothingness,TheEasternBuddhist34/2:142170.

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,2004,TheStepBackthroughNihilism:TheRadicalOrientationofNishitaniKeiji'sPhilosophyof
Zen,SynthesisPhilosophica37:13959.(AnintroductiontothecentralthemesofNishitani'sthought,
focusingonhistopologicalphenomenologyofatransdescendencethroughnihilismtothefieldof
nyat.)
,2004,ProvocativeAmbivalencesinJapanesePhilosophyofReligion:WithaFocusonNishidaand
Zen,inHeisig2004,pp.246274.(Addressestherelationbetweenphilosophyandreligioninthe
KyotoSchool,andarguesthatNishidaandothersprovokeustoradicallyrethinkbothofthesetermsas
wellastherelationbetweenthem.)
,2008,LettingGoofGodforNothing:UedaShizuteru'sNonMysticismandtheQuestionofEthicsin
ZenBuddhism,inHori/Curley2008,pp.221250.
,2008,TurnstoandfromPoliticalPhilosophy:TheCaseofNishitaniKeiji,inGotoJones2008,pp.
2645.
,2011,Nothingnessand(notor)theIndividual:ReflectionsonRobertWilkinson'sNishidaandWestern
Philosophy,TheEasternBuddhist42/2:143156.
,2013,Nishida'sMulticulturalWorldview:ContemporarySignificanceandImmanentCritique,
NishidaTetsugakkaiNenp[TheJournaloftheSocietyforNishidaPhilosophy]10:183203.
Davis,BretW.,BrianSchroederandJasonM.Wirth(eds.),2011,JapaneseandContinentalPhilosophy:
ConversationswiththeKyotoSchool,Bloomington:IndianaUniversityPress.(Acollectionofessays
byNorthAmerican,Japanese,andEuropeanscholarsaimedatengenderingmultilateralexchanges
betweentheKyotoSchoolphilosophiesandsuchContinentalfiguresasKant,Nietzsche,Heidegger,
Arendt,Lwith,Habermas,MerleauPonty,Irigaray,Levinas,Derrida,andMarion.)
Denker,Alfredetal.(eds.),2013,HeideggerJahrbuch7:HeideggerunddasostasiatischeDenken,
Freiburg/Munich:AlberVerlag.(Containsanumberofessaysbyandonthinkersaffiliatedwiththe
KyotoSchool.)
Dll,Steffen,2005,Wozualsosuchen?ZurEinfhrungindasDenkenvonUedaShizuteru,Munich:
iudicium.(ContainsascholarlyandinformativeintroductiontoUeda'sthought,togetherwithan
annotatedtranslationofhisThePlaceofSelfAwareness.)
Elberfeld,Rolf,1999,KitarNishida(18701945).ModernejapanischePhilosophieunddieFragenachder
Interkulturalitt,Amsterdam:Rodopi.(CompellinglyarguesforNishida'ssignificanceasacross
culturalphilosopher.)
Elberfeld,RolfandYkoArisaka(eds.),2014,KitarNishidainderPhilosophiedes20.Jahrhunderts,
Freiburg/Munich:AlberVerlag.(ContainsarichvarietyofessaysbyJapanese,European,andAmerican
scholarsonNishidainthecontextoftwentiethcenturyphilosophy.)
Faure,Bernard,1995,TheKyotoSchoolandReverseOrientalism,inJapaninTraditionaland
PostmodernPerspectives,CharlesWeiHsunFuandStevenHeine(eds.),NewYork:SUNYPress.(A
severelycriticaltreatmentofthenationalisticaspectsoftheKyotoSchool.)
Fujita,Masakatsu(ed.),1997,Nihonkindaishisomanabuhitonotameni[ForStudentsofModern
JapaneseThought],Kyoto:Sekaishissha.(Containshelpfulintroductorychaptersonmembersofthe
KyotoSchoolandotherkeythinkersinmodernJapan.)
,1998,GendaishistoshitenoNishidaKitar[NishidaKitarasContemporaryThought],Tokyo:
Kdansha.(AnintroductiontoNishida,focusingontheideaofpureexperience,thecritiqueofdualism,
andthequestionoflanguageinhisearlywritings.)
(ed.),2000ff.,Nihonnotetsugaku[JapanesePhilosophy],Kyoto:Shwad.(Anannualjournal
publishedbytheDepartmentofJapanesePhilosophyatKyotoUniversity.)
(ed.),2001,Kytogakuhanotetsugaku[ThePhilosophyoftheKyotoSchool],Kyoto:Shwad.
(Containsprimarytextsfrom,andcriticalessayson,eightKyotoSchoolphilosophers.)
,2011,NishidaKitarnoshisakusekai[TheWorldofNishidaKitar'sThought],Tokyo:Iwanami.
(GatherstenlucidandinsightfulessaysonarangeofkeyissuesinNishida'sphilosophy.)
Fujita,MasakatsuandBretW.Davis(eds.),2005,Sekainonakanonihonnotetsugaku[Japanese
PhilosophyintheWorld],Kyoto:Shwad.(AcollectionofarticlesbyWestern,ChineseandJapanese
scholarsattemptingtohermeneuticallysituateandcriticallyevaluatethesignificanceofmodern
Japanesephilosophyintheworld.)
GotoJones,ChristopherS.,2005,PoliticalPhilosophyinJapan:Nishida,TheKyotoSchool,andCo
Prosperity,London:Routledge.(Aprovocativenewinterpretationofthepoliticaldimensionsof
Nishida'sphilosophy,whicharguesthatNishida'spoliticalthoughtshouldbeunderstoodneitherin
termsofJapaneseultranationalism,norintermsofWesternliberalism,butratherasamodern
developmentofEasternandinparticularMahynaBuddhistthought.)

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Hase,Sht,2003,Yokubnotetsugaku:Jdokyousekainoshisaku[PhilosophyofDesire:AnInquiryinto
theWorldofPureLandBuddhism],Kyoto:Hzkan.
,2005,Kokoroniutsurumugen:knoimjuka[TheInfiniteReflectedintheHeartMind:TheImaging
ofEmptiness],Kyoto:Hzkan.
,2010,Jdotowananika:Shinrannoshisakutodoniokeruchetsu[WhatisthePureLand?The
ThoughtofShinranandTranscendenceonEarth],Kyoto:Hzkan.
Hashi,Hisaki,1999,DieAktualittderPhilosophie.GrundrissdesDenkwegsderKyotoSchule,Wien:
Doppelpunkt.
Heisig,JamesW.,1998,KyotoSchool,inE.Craig(ed.),RoutledgeEncyclopediaofPhilosophy,London:
Routledge.
,1999,PhilosophyasSpirituality:TheWayoftheKyotoSchool,inBuddhistSpirituality:LaterChina,
Korea,JapanandtheModernWorld,TakeuchiYoshinori(ed.),NewYork:Crossroad,pp.367388.
,2001,PhilosophersofNothingness:AnEssayontheKyotoSchool,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaii
Press.(AlucidintroductiontotheKyotoSchool,focusingonkeyideasofNishida,Tanabe,and
NishitaniincludesawealthofvaluablereferencestothedebatesthathavesurroundedtheSchool,and
anextensivemultilingualbibliography.Forareview,seeDavis2002.)
(ed.),2004,JapanesePhilosophyAbroad,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.(A
valuablecollectionofscholarlyarticlespresentedataninternationalconferenceonthepastandfuture
ofstudiesofJapanesephilosophyinthevariousregionsoftheworld.)
(ed.),2006,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.(The
firstofanongoingseriesofanthologiesthatfocuslargelyontheKyotoSchool.SeealsoHori/Curley
2006Heisig/Uehara2008Lam/Cheung2009andBouso/Heisig2009.)
Heisig,JamesW.andJohnC.Maraldo(eds.),1994,RudeAwakenings:Zen,TheKyotoSchool,andthe
QuestionofNationalism,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.(Awellroundedlandmarkcollection
ofarticlesonthepoliticalcontroversysurroundingtheKyotoSchool.)
Heisig,JamesW.andUeharaMayuko(eds.),2008,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy3:Originsand
Possibilities,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
Himi,Kiyoshi,1990,Tanabetetsugakukenky:Shkygakunokantenkara[StudiesofthePhilosophyof
Tanabe:FromthePerspectiveofReligiousStudies],Tokyo:Hokujushuppan.(Themostcomprehensive
singleauthorworkonTanabe'sthought,withapredominantfocusontheseveralstagesofhislater
philosophyofreligion.)
Hori,VictorSgenandMelissaAnneMarieCurley(eds.),2008,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy3:
OriginsandPossibilities,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
JacintoZavala,Agustn,1989,Filosofadelatransformacindelmundo:Introduccinalafilosofatarda
deNishidaKitar,Michoacn:ElColegiodeMichoacn.(Oneofmanyvaluabletextsandtranslations
bythepremierSpanishspeakingNishidaandKyotoSchoolscholar.)
Kasulis,T.P.,1981,ZenAction/ZenPerson,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaiiPress.(Aclassicphilosophical
introductiontoZenBuddhismbyoneoftheleadingscholarsofJapanesethought.)
,1982,TheKyotoSchoolandtheWest,TheEasternBuddhist15/2:12545.(Anearlyreviewarticle
whichincludesinsightfulcriticalresponsestotheliteratureontheKyotoSchoolthathadappearedin
theWestpriorto1982.)
Keta,Masako,1992,Shkykeikennotetsugaku:Jdokysekainokaimei[PhilosophyofReligious
Experience:AnElucidationoftheWorldofPureLandBuddhism],Tokyo:Sbunshasha.
,1999,Nihirizumunoshisaku[TheThoughtofNihilism],Tokyo:Sbunshasha.
,2011,NishidaKitarZennokenky[NishidaKitar'sAnInquiryintotheGood],Kyoto:Ky
shob.
Kopf,Gereon,2001,BeyondPersonalIdentity:Dgen,Nishida,andaPhenomenologyofNoSelf,
Richmond,Surry:CurzonPress.
,2004,BetweenIdentityandDifference:ThreeWaysofReadingNishida'sNonDualism,Japanese
JournalofReligiousStudies31/1:73103.(AgoodaccountofhowNishida'sdialoguewithhiscritics,
TakahashiSatomiandTanabeHajime,assistedhiminthepursuitofaphilosophyofnondualismthat
doesnotreducedifferencetoidentity.)
Kosaka,Kunitsugu,1995,NishidaKitar:Sonoshistogendai[NishidaKitar:HisThoughtandthe
ContemporaryAge],Kyoto:Minerva.
,1997,NishidaKitaromegurutetsugakushagunz[TheGroupofPhilosophersSurroundingNishida
Kitar],Kyoto:Minerva.(ContainsclearpresentationsofNishida'sthoughtinrelationtothatofTanabe,
TakahashiSatomi,Miki,Watsuji,andHisamatsu.)

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,2001,Nishidatetsugakutogendai:Rekishi,shky,shizenoyomitoku[NishidaPhilosophyandthe
ContemporaryAge:ExplainingHistory,Religion,andNature],Kyoto:Minerva.
Lam,WingkeungandCheungChingyuen(eds.),2009,FrontiersofJapanesePhilosophy4:Facingthe
21stCentury,Nagoya:NanzanInstituteforReligionandCulture.
Laube,Johannes,1984,DialektikderabsolutenVermittlung.HajimeTanabesReligionsphilosophieals
BeitragzumWettstreitderLiebezwischenBuddhismusundChristentum,FreiburgimBreisgau:
Herder.
Light,Steven,1987,ShzKukiandJeanPaulSartre:InfluenceandCounterInfluenceintheEarlyHistory
ofExistentialPhenomenology,Carbondale:SouthernIllinoisUniversityPress.
Mafli,Paul,1996,NishidaKitarsDenkweg,Munich:IudiciumVerlag.
Maraldo,John,1997,ContemporaryJapanesePhilosophy,inCompanionEncyclopediaofAsian
Philosophy,BrianCarrandIndiraMahalingam(eds.),LondonandNewYork:Routledge,pp.810835.
(ArichoverviewthatsituatestheKyotoSchoolinthewidercontextofmodernandcontemporary
Japanesephilosophy.)
,2003,RethinkingGod:HeideggerintheLightofAbsoluteNothingness,NishidaintheShadowof
OntoTheology,inReligiousExperienceandtheEndofMetaphysics,JefferyBloechl(ed.),
Bloomington:IndianaUniversityPress,pp.3149.
,2004,DefiningPhilosophyintheMaking,inHeisig2004,pp.220245.(Aninformativeandthought
provokingessayonthequestionofwhatJapanesephilosophyhasmeantandshouldmean.)
,2005,beinoshitenkaramitaKytogakuhanoyuraitoyukue[TheWhenceandWhitherofthe
KyotoSchoolfromaWesternPerspective],AzumiYurika(trans.),inFujita/Davis2005,pp.3156.(An
excellentcriticalessayonthequestionofdefiningtheKyotoSchool,whichunfortunatelyhasyetto
bepublishedinEnglish.)
,2006,TheWarOvertheKyotoSchool,MonumentaNipponica61/3(Autumn2006):375401.(An
insightfulreviewarticleonGotoJones2005andWilliams2005.)
,2011,NishidaKitar:Self,World,andtheNothingnessUnderlyingDistinctions,inJayGarfieldand
WilliamEdelglass(eds.),TheOxfordHandbookofWorldPhilosophy,NewYork:OxfordUniversity
Press,pp.36172.
,2013,JapanesePhilosophyasaLensonGrecoEuropeanThought,JournalofJapanesePhilosophy1:
2156.
Marchian,Grazia,(ed.),1996,LaScuoladiKyto:Kytoha,Messina:Rubberttino.
Matsumaru,Hideo,2013,Chokusetsuchinotanky:Nishida,Nishitani,Haidegg,Daisetsu[An
InvestigationintoImmediateKnowledge:Nishida,Nishitani,Heidegger,D.T.Suzuki],Yokohama:
Shunpsha.
Mayeda,Graham,2006,Time,Space,andEthicsinthePhilosophiesofWatsujiTetsur,KukiShz,and
MartinHeidegger,London/NewYork:Routledge.
McCarthy,Erin,2010,EthicsEmbodied:RethinkingSelfhoodthroughContinental,Japanese,andFeminist
Philosophies,Lanham:Lexington.(InsightfullyandprovocativelybringsWatsuji'sethicsintodialogue
withcontemporaryissuesinContinentalandfeministphilosophy.)
Mitchell,DonaldW.,1998,MasaoAbe:AZenLifeofDialogue,Boston:CharlesE.TuttleCo.(Consistsof
thirtyfivechaptersbydifferentauthorsreflectingonthesignificanceofAbe'sdialogueswith
philosophersandtheologiansintheWest.)
Nagatomo,Shigenori,1995,APhilosophicalFoundationofMikiKiyoshi'sConceptofHumanism,Lewiston,
NY:EdwinMellenPress.
Nakamura,Yjir,1983,NishidaKitar,Tokyo:Iwanami.
,1987,Nishidatetsugakunodatsukchiku[TheDeconstructionofNishidaPhilosophy],Tokyo:Iwanami.
Nishida,Kitar,2002,ShinNishidaKitarZensh[NewCompleteWorksofNishidaKitar],Fujita
MasakatsuandKosakaKunitsugu(eds.),Tokyo:Iwanami.(Thisnewrevisedandrearrangededitionof
Nishida'sworkscontainshelpfuleditorialmaterial,suchascitationinformationforNishida's
references.)
hashi,Rysuke,1984,ZeitlichkeitsanalysederHegelschenLogik.ZurIdeeeinerPhnomenologiedes
Ortes,Munich:KarlAlber.(AprovocativeKyotoSchoolorientedreadingofHegel.)
,1992,Nihontekinamono,Yroppatekinamono[ThingsJapanese,ThingsEuropean],Tokyo:
Shinchsha.(InsightfullytreatsarangeofculturalandphilosophicalissuesrelatingtomodernJapan,
theKyotoSchoolandassociatedthinkers.)
,1994,DasSchneinJapan.PhilosophischsthetischeReflexionenzuGeschichteundModerne,Rolf
Elberfeld(trans.),Kln:DuMontBuchverlag.(AclassicphilosophicalinterpretationofJapanese
aesthetics.)
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,1995,Nishidatetsugakunosekai[TheWorldofNishidaPhilosophy],Tokyo:Chikuma.
,1998,Hinogenshronjosetsu:Nihontetsugakunorokutzeyori[ProlegomenontoaPhenomenology
ofCompassion:FromSixthesesofJapanesePhilosophy],Tokyo:Sbunsha.(Includeschaptersonthe
contemporaryrelevanceofkeyideasofNishida,Tanabe,Nishitani,andHisamatsu.)
,1999,JapaniminterkulturellenDialog,Mnchen:Iudicium.(ContainsarangeofessaysonJapan's
relationtotheWest,withchaptersonandfrequentreferencetotheKyotoSchool.)
(ed.),2004,Kytogakuhanoshis[TheThoughtoftheKyotoSchool],Kyoto:Jinbunshoin.(Contains
fivechaptersthatcriticallyexaminepastandpresentimagesoftheKyotoSchool,andsevenchapters
thatexplorethepotentialofKyotoSchoolthoughtinvariousareasofcontemporaryphilosophy.)
,2013,NishidaKitar:HontnoNihonwakorekaratozonjimasu[NishidaKitar:IKnowthattheReal
JapanisStilltoCome],Kyoto:Minerva.(Anilluminatingphilosophicalbiography.)
Parkes,Graham,1997,ThePutativeFascismoftheKyotoSchoolandthePoliticalCorrectnessofthe
ModernAcademy,PhilosophyEastandWest47/3:305336.(Acriticalresponsetopolemical
treatmentsofthenationalisticaspectsoftheKyotoSchool,includingthosebyPincus1996andFaure
1995.)
Pincus,Leslie,1996,AuthenticatingCultureinImperialJapan:KukiShzandtheRiseofNational
Aesthetics,Berkeley:UniversityofCaliforniaPress.(Ahighlycriticaltreatmentoftheimplicationsof
culturalnationalisminKuki'saesthetics.)
Piovesana,GinoK.,1994,RecentJapanesePhilosophicalThought,18621996:ASurvey,revisededition
includinganewsurveybyNaoshiYamawaki:ThePhilosophicalThoughtofJapanfrom1963to
1996,Richmond,Surrey:JapanLibrary(CurzonPressLtd).(AclassicsurveyofmodernJapanese
philosophy.)
Stambaugh,Joan,1999,TheFormlessSelf,Albany:SUNYPress.(InsightfullydiscussesDgen,Hisamatsu,
andNishitani.)
Standish,PaulandNaokoSaito(eds.),2012,EducationandtheKyotoSchoolofPhilosophy:Pedagogyfor
HumanTransformation,NewYork:Springer.
Stevens,Bernard,2000,Topologiedunant:Uneapprochedel'coledeKyto,Paris:ditionsPeeters.
Takeda,Atsushi,2001,MonogatariKytogakuha[TheStoryoftheKyotoSchool],Tokyo:Chkron
Shinsha.(Anengagingbiographicalaccountoftheinterpersonalrelationsandscholarlyactivitiesofthe
KyotoSchool.)
Tanaka,Kybun,2000,Nihonnotetsugakuoyomitoku[ReadingJapanesePhilosophy],Tokyo:
ChikumaShinsho.(ConsistsofintroductorychaptersonNishida,Watsuji,Kuki,andMiki.)
Townsend,SusanC.,2009,MikiKiyoshi18971945:Japan'sItinerantPhilosopher,Boston:Brill.
Tremblay,Jacynthe,2000,NishidaKitar:Lejeudel'individueletdel'universel,Paris:CNRSEditions.
Tsunetoshi,Szabur,1998,Nihonnotetsugakuomanabuhitonotameni[ForStudentsofJapanese
Philosophy],Kyoto:Sekaishissha.(ConsistsofintroductorychaptersmostlyonKyotoSchool
philosophers.)
Ueda,Shizuteru,1992,NishidaKitaroyomu[ReadingNishidaKitar],Tokyo:Iwanami.(Thefirstof
manyinfluentialbooksonNishidabyUeda,inwhichUedadevelopshisownthoughtbywayof
carefullyreadingNishida'stexts,beginningwithAnInquiryintotheGood.)
(ed.),1992,Jiniokeruk[EmptinessinPassion],Tokyo:Sbunsha.(Animportantcollectionofessays
onNishitani.)
(ed.),1994,Nishidatetsugaku[NishidaPhilosophy],Tokyo:Sbunsha.(Animportantcollectionof
essaysonNishida.)
(ed.),2006,ZentoKyototetsugaku[ZenandKyotoPhilosophy],Kyoto:Teisha.(Animportant
anthologyonthemostsignificanttwentiethcenturyJapanesephilosopherswhowereengagedinthe
studyandpracticeofZen.)
Ueda,ShizuteruandHorioTsutomu(eds.),1998,Zentogendaisekai[ZenandtheModernWorld],Kyoto:
ZenbunkaKenkysho.(ConsistsofchaptersonNishida,D.T.Suzuki,Nishitani,andHisamatsu,
addressingtherelationoftheirthoughttoZen.)
Unno,Taitetsu(ed.),1989,TheReligiousPhilosophyofNishitaniKeiji,Berkeley:AsianHumanitiesPress.
(AlandmarkcollectionofresponsestoNishitani'sphilosophyofreligion.)
Unno,TaitetsuandJamesW.Heisig(eds.),1990,TheReligiousPhilosophyofTanabeHajime,Berkeley:
AsianHumanitiesPress.(AlandmarkcollectionofresponsestoTanabe'sphilosophyofreligion.)
Unno,Taitetsu,1998,RiverofFire,RiverofWater:AnIntroductiontothePureLandTraditionofShin
Buddhism,NewYork:DoubleDay.(AnaccessibleandengagingintroductiontoShinBuddhist
thought.)

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Waldenfels,Hans,1980,AbsoluteNothingness:FoundationsforaBuddhistChristianDialogue,J.W.Heisig
(trans.),NewYork:PaulistPress.(AnimportantearlyWesternworkfocusingonNishitanifromthe
perspectiveofBuddhistChristiandialogue.)
Wargo,RobertJ.J.,2005,TheLogicofNothingness:AStudyofNishidaKitar,Honolulu:Universityof
HawaiiPress.(AlandmarkphilosophicalstudywhichtracestheearlydevelopmentofNishida's
thoughtfromoutofthecontextofJapanesephilosophyintheMeijiperiod,andwhichfocusesin
particularonthesubsequentdevelopmentofhisuniquelogicofbasho.)
Wilkinson,Robert,2009,NishidaandWesternPhilosophy,Surrey,UK:Ashgate.(AnaccountofNishida's
philosophywhichsetshisthoughtinthecontextofhisZenbackgroundaswellashiscriticaldialogue
withWesternphilosopherssuchasJames,Bergson,Fichte,theNeoKantians,andHegel.Forareview,
seeDavis2011d.)
Williams,David,2005,DefendingJapan'sPacificWar:TheKyotoSchoolPhilosophersandPostWhite
Power,London/NewYork:Routledge.(AhighlyprovocativerevisionistaccountofthePacificWarand
defenseoftheKyotoSchool'swartimepoliticalthought,whichcentersonaninterpretationofTanabeas
apioneerpostWhitepoliticalphilosopher.)
,2014,ThePhilosophyofJapaneseWartimeResistance:AReading,withCommentary,oftheComplete
TextsoftheKyotoSchoolDiscussionsofTheStandpointofWorldHistoryandJapan,NewYork:
Routledge.
Yusa,Michiko,1997,ContemporaryBuddhistPhilosophy,inACompaniontoWorldPhilosophies,Eliot
DeutschandRonBontekoe(ed.),Oxford:Blackwell,pp.564572.
,2002,Zen&Philosophy:AnIntellectualBiographyofNishidaKitar,Honolulu:UniversityofHawaii
Press.(AveryinformativeandlucidaccountofNishida'spersonalandscholarlylife,includinghis
relationswithotherKyotoSchoolthinkers.)

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