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Philosophers of Nothingness: An Essay on the Kyoto School (review)

From: Philosophy East and West
Volume 53, Number 4, October 2003
pp. 605-612 | 10.1353/pew.2003.0046

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2003 by University of Hawai‘i Press defined.1 Heisig’s work helps the Western reader to understand the School within the context of current Western ideological trends, interests, and expectations. The book is more than an introduction for Westerners, however, as it makes significant contributions to Kyoto School scholarship and should be of serious interest to both Japanese and Western readers. Beyond this, Heisig brings the Kyoto School into the forum of ‘‘world philosophy’’ (pp. 8–9) by subjecting it to the critical analysis that one associates with the standards and interests of conventional Western philosophy. Heisig begins with the conscious assumption that the Kyoto School was dedicated to the same philosophical project that the West has come to regard as conventional: ‘‘Nishida, Tanabe, and Nishitani themselves made no claim to a uniquely Japanese mode of thought inaccessible to the outside world.... On the contrary, their very reason for working in the philosophical idiom—and adjusting their own language to accommodate it—was that it was a universal idiom’’ (p. 18). Heisig says of those denying the supra-cultural aims of Nishida’s philosophy that they ‘‘not only miss the point of his goal, but they push his ideas in the opposite direction he was headed’’ (p. 37). Offering frequent examples of how problems and developments in the history of Western philosophy and religion mirror developments...

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