Throughout his life the philosopher Nishida Kitaro (1870-1945) made references to art in his writings.
On occasion the references were quite slight and on other occasions more profound. I think we can infer
from this that art had a certain importance in the formation of his philosophy.
It is helpful to divide the development of Nishida's philosophy into four periods. The First Stage,
J unsui-keiken (pure experience) refers to the immediate or intuitive apprehension of the world about us.
In the Second Stage, Jikaku (self-awareness) Nishida deals with self-awareness in the apprehended world,
here Nishida was considerably influenced by the famous scholar of aesthetics K. Fiedler (1841 -95).
Turning logically from this comes the Third Stage, Basho (place) here Nishida concludes that true selfawareness occurs when one sees oneself as one really is, as a place (Basho) existing in the greater or deeper'place'of the apprehended surrounding world.
The Fourth Stage flows naturally from this as the Bensyohoteki-sekai or dialectical world which is the
world questioned and examined in relation to these first three principles, that is pure immediate experience, to which is added self-awareness refined to Basho in the philosopher, which eventually leads to a
new viewpoint on the actual world.
It is when we come to the Fourth Stage that we find the principal influence on Nishida changes, partially leaving behind the theories of K. Fiedler and becoming increasing influenced by the work of J. Harrison (185 0| 1928) whose theories on reality and the historical world may have caused this change in
emphasis. Nevertheless the theories of K. Fiedler remained important in relation to Art Theory.
I believe that the third Basho stage is the most important in understanding the development of his
idea s. Historically scholars have also believed that.
However they have so far tended to neglect the r elation between Nishida's thought and art on this Third
Stage, attaching far more importance to the second and fourth periods. But for me the Third Stage re ,
mains probably significant, revealing as it does a process of fundamental change between thought and
The Turn in Nishida's Philosophy of Others
Nishida's philosophy of others has been often criticized for identifying self with others. Especially, his
paper I and You has been. However, exactly in the
paper, Nishida's philosophy of others takes a 180 degree turn. It is, as it were, the turn from sympathetic identification to response relations with others.
Therefore, concerning after the paper, the criticisms
are beside the point, even though they are right to
the point before the paper. In this thesis, I make
clear the substance and tracks of the turn.
But, the criticisms seem to have the grounds even
in the paper. In fact, the paper has a lot of words
which suggest that he identifies self with others.
However, if you examine the true meaning of those
words faithfully, you find that they mean diverse
sides of response relations. In short, he finds immediate encounter with others not in the direction of
sympathy or empathy, but in the direction of birth
It is well-known that Nishida uses the concept of he. I prove that Nishida thinks the response relations between self and others can be realized only where they are open to him (a third party)
Scince Nishida's thought is greatly affected by his
practice of Zen Buddism, some people often regerd
him as a speculative metaphysician. This way of
looking contains some truth, but it fails the very important point to see. In this article insist that the
essential intention of Nisida's philosophycal work is
oriented toward the concrete reality of the world.
By Nishida, the world of concrete reality is the historical-social world, in which we act, live and die.
That's why the idea of life is frequently mentioned
in his late works. Life represents the concretness of
the world. Nishida argues that real social facts such
as folks or nations must be treated as life. On the
analogy of J. S. Haldane's physiology, Nishida insists that the species should be considered as self of the maintaining subject in the historical-social world.
Being inspired by Haldane's holistic conception of
life, Nishida conceptualizes the historical-social species, whose ideal form (paradeigma) is embodied in
social acts. But there is a serious misunderstanding
in Nishida's argument. Biologically, self-maintaining
function cannot be found in species, but in a concrete, individual organism. My conclusion is that
Nishida contradicts himself because of this inappropriate interpretation of Haldane's concept of life.
Although absolute contradictory self-identity is
one of the most fundamental notions in the philosophy of Nishida, it is also notorious for its ambivalence. Actually, because Nishida uses this term in
different senses and in various applications, it appears
that it cannot avoid the charge of ambivalence.
However, this essay considers the possibility that
this very ambivalence can be taken as favorable. That
is, this essay suggests that fields which have tended
to be thought of as separate, actually overlap each
This essay draws special attention to the fact that,
among the various aspects of absolute contradictory
self-identity which he formulates, Nishida develops
formulations in both the religious world and the historical world. In general, it is often assumed that the
religious world and the historical world are two completely different worlds; the former is assumed to be
completely transcendent from the latter. But Nishida's
notion of absolute contradictory self-identity can put
this assumption into question. This essay claims that
if one examines this notion carefully, then one will
find that its very ambivalence demonstrate that these
two worlds are intimately related and overlapping.
The Summary presented paper deals with three subjects. The
first point to be made is that Nishida Kitaro and A. N. Whitehead share the same origin, called the fact
of pure experience or immediate experience, in
spite of no direct academic exchange between them.
They regard the pure experience as the sole starting-point of any thought in which the reality discloses itself as a non-dualistic unity. The problem
they face there is whether they can describe the insight gained in that experience. They solve it by
reaching at the same idea that the reality expresses
itself and its self-expression takes form of a sort of
The second point is to show that their conclusions
are different from each other. At the beginning, both
philosophers regard the fact of pure experience as a
flux. And then, they formulate it into the idea of
process. Nevertheless, because the pure experience
refuses any seat to the substantial self, which is
still held in the idea of process, Nishida abandons
this idea and searches for a deeper logic. It is a sort
of topology that implies a paradoxical content. He
finds our own selves in their vanishing point, in
which our relative selves encounter with the absolute.
In contrast, Whitehead searches for the emerging
point of our own selves in his immediate experience.
His conclusion puts no emphasis on the idea of nothingness but evidently on that of process.
The third point suggests the possibility to construe
Whitehead's philosophy not only as a process philosophy but also as a topological philosophy comparable to Nishida's. As Nishida watches the vanishing
point of our own selves in order to reveal the depth
of reality, Whitehead describes the perishing of actual entities in order to discover the principle of
universal relativity of the universe. To perish is to be
objectified, and to be objectified is to be present in
another, and the presence in another is the main subject
of topology. In conclusion, we can say that Nishida's
approach to the reality and that of Whitehead are
complement to each other.