2020 Volume 16 Pages 98-124
This paper compares the philosophical projects of Ernst Cassirer and Nishida Kitarō in order to establish a shared place in which a dialogue between Cassirer and Nishida might take place. It argues that the common philosophical aim of Cassirer’s and Nishida’s projects is to overcome the entrenched dualism of the Western metaphysical tradition, and that this was to be achieved through a paradoxical synthesis of the two antithetical philosophical perspectives of transcendental philosophy and Lebensphilosophie. The paradoxical nature of their projects is brought out through a comparison of their respective critiques of Bergson. The paper then examines how Cassirer and Nishida trace the root cause of this dualism back to Greek philosophy in general and to Aristotle’s concept of substance in particular. The paper then compares the essential elements of their philosophical projects through their respective engagements with Hegel. The paper ends by way of a comparison of Cassirer’s concept of sheer possibility and Nishida’s concept of absolute nothing in terms of a reversal of the ontological categories of energeia and potentia.