Kitaro Nishida

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In this Japanese name, the family name is Nishida.
Kitarō Nishida
Kitaro Nishidain in Feb. 1943.jpg
Born May 19, 1870
Mori village near Kanazawa (present-day Kahoku, Ishikawa), Japan
Died June 7, 1945
Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Japanese philosophy
School Kyoto School
Main interests
Zen Buddhism, Moral philosophy
Notable ideas
Logic of Basho (non-dualistic concrete logic), Absolute Nothingness

Kitarō Nishida (西田 幾多郎 Nishida Kitarō?, May 19,[1] 1870 – June 7, 1945) was a prominent Japanese philosopher, founder of what has been called the Kyoto School of philosophy. He graduated from The University of Tokyo during the Meiji period in 1894 with a degree in philosophy. He was named professor of the Fourth Higher School in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1899 and later became professor of philosophy at Kyoto University. Nishida retired in 1927. Later in his retirement, in 1940, he was awarded the Order of Culture (文化勲章, bunka kunshō). He participated in establishing the (千葉工業大学, Chiba Institute of Technology) from 1940. Nishida Kitarō died at the age of seventy-five of a renal infection. His grave is located at Reiun'in (霊雲院, Reiun'in), a temple in the Myōshin-ji compound in Kyoto.


Being born in the third year of the Meiji period, Nishida was presented with a new, unique opportunity to contemplate Eastern philosophical issues in the fresh light that Western philosophy shone on them. Nishida's original and creative philosophy, incorporating ideas of Zen and Western philosophy, was aimed at bringing the East and West closer. Throughout his lifetime, Nishida published a number of books and essays including An Inquiry into the Good and "The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious Worldview." Taken as a whole, Nishida’s life work was the foundation for the Kyoto School of Philosophy and the inspiration for the original thinking of his disciples.

The most famous concept in Nishida's philosophy is the logic of basho (Japanese: 場所; usually translated as "place" or "topos"), a non-dualistic concrete logic, meant to overcome the inadequacy of the subject-object distinction essential to the subject logic of Aristotle and the predicate logic of Immanuel Kant, through the affirmation of what he calls the "absolutely contradictory self-identity", a dynamic tension of opposites that, unlike the dialectical logic of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, does not resolve in a synthesis. Rather, it defines its proper subject by maintaining the tension between affirmation and negation as opposite poles or perspectives.


Tomb of Nishida Kitarō in Kamakura

According to Masao Abe, "During World War II right wing thinkers attacked him as antinationalistic for his appreciation of Western philosophy and logic. But after the war left wing thinkers criticized his philosophy as nationalistic because of his emphasis on the traditional notion of nothingness. He recognized a kind of universality in Western philosophy and logic but did not accept that it was the only universality."[2]

List of works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yusa Michiko. Zen & Philosophy: An Intellectual Biography of Nishida Kitaro. University of Hawaii Press, 2002, p. 5.
  2. ^ Abe, Maso (1987). An Inquiry Into the Good. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. xxv. ISBN 978-0-300-05233-6. 

References and further reading[edit]

Translated works[edit]

  • An Inquiry into the Good, trans. Masao Abe and Christopher Ives. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.
  • "An Explanation of Beauty," trans. Steve Odin. Monumenta Nipponica vol. 42 no. 2 (1987): 211–217.
  • Intuition and Reflection in Self-Consciousness, trans. Valdo H. Viglielmo, Takeuchi Yoshinori and Joseph S. O'Leary. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987.
  • Last Writings: Nothingness and the Religious Worldview, trans. David Dilworth. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.
    • "Logic of the Place of Nothinginess and the Religious Worldview"
    • "Concerning My Logic"
  • Place and Dialectic: Two Essays by Nishida Kitaro, trans. John W. M. Krummel and Shigenori Nagatomo. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Ontology of Production: Three Essays, trans. William Haver. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012.
  • The Unsolved Issue of Consciousness, trans. John W. M. Krummell, in Philosophy East and West 62, no 1 (2012):44–59.



External links[edit]

Preceded by
Department of Philosophy (Chair), Kyoto University
Succeeded by
Hajime Tanabe