Friday, May 1, 2015
Nishida Kitaro Part 2.12-3
Nishida Kitaro was born on May 19, 1870 in the Meiji era, which was from 1868 to 1912. During the Meiji era was when Japan had reopened itself to the world after isolation. During this time, there was a lot of ‘modernization’ coming in and the country was on a goal to reform itself based on the Western European countries. Japan during this time was exposed to some different western philosophies. In secondary school, Nishida studied Chinese Confucian, Neo-Confucian, and Daoist classics as well as learning to read English and German. He became good friends with D.T. Suzuki, another popular philosopher later on, during high school and together they dropped out. It was a year later when Nishida was admitted to Tokyo Imperial University as a “limited student”, as I wrote in the previous post about him, studying Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer.
He published a few philosophical essays and was practicing formal meditation with Zen masters in Kyoto. Nishida wrote many essays that were collected and later made into a book. Some of these essays were reworked ideas from Neo-Kantian, Royce, Bergson, Hermann Lotze, and a little Husserl. In the 1920s is when Nishida became more famous; as Professor of Philosophy in Kyoto Imperial University, he attracted many future significant philosophers such as Nishitani Keiji, Miki Kiyoshi, and Tosaka Jun. He was also Japan’s premier philosopher and was appealed to justify Japanese nationalism.
Some of his early works “question two basic presuppositions of most modern epistemology: the assumptions that experience is individual and subjective, and that it leads to knowledge only via a corrective process with input from the mind or other individuals.” He wrote, “pure experience names not only the basic form of every sensuous and every intellectual experience but also the fundamental form of reality”. Next he would discuss about self-awareness (jikaku) as a self-reflection.