Religion and Nothingness

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Religion and Nothingness
Religion and Nothingness.jpg
Cover of the English translation
Author Keiji Nishitani
Original title 宗教とは何か (Shūkyō to wa Nanika), "What is religion?"
Translator Jan Van Bragt
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Subject Nihilism
  • 1961 (in Japanese)
  • 1982 (in English)
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 366 (English translation)
ISBN 978-0520049468

Religion and Nothingness (Japanese: Shūkyō to wa Nanika; the original title translates literally as "What is Religion?") is a 1961 book by the Japanese philosopher Keiji Nishitani.[1]


Nishitani relates nihilism to what he sees as the problematic nature of modern science. For Nishitani, science as understood in the age of modernity involves an objectification of both the natural world and human subject, leading to depersonalization of both. This leads to an acute sense of alienation and derootedness in human consciousness, features of the nihil that cuts through human existence. The almost worship-like attitude with which science is regarded, a corollary to atheism, further aggravates the issue.[1]

Nishitani believes that the attitude of scientism is based on the classic but faulty epistemology that separates subject and object and tends to create the illusion of the subject as an independent entity separate from the rest of the world: this creates the rift in human consciousness that lies at the root of the nihilism confronting modern humanity.[1]

Scholarly reception[edit]

Religion and Nothingness first appeared in English translation in 1982, generating increasing interest in Nishitani's ideas among philosophers, theologians, and religious scholars.[1] The book has been called Nishitani's masterwork by Graham Parkes, who writes that its philosophical synthesis matches the achievements of Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger in depth of insight.[2]



  1. ^ a b c d Habito 1995. p. 396.
  2. ^ Parkes 2005. p. 660.


  • Habito, Ruben L. F. (1995). McGreal, Ian P., ed. Great Thinkers of the Eastern World. New York: HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBN 0-06-270085-5. 
  • Parkes, Graham (2005). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.