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The Unsolved Issue of Consciousness

From: Philosophy East and West
Volume 62, Number 1, January 2012
pp. 44-51 | 10.1353/pew.2012.0003

Abstract

Abstract:

This essay by Nishida Kitarō from 1927, translated into English here for the first time, is from the initial period of what has come to be called “Nishida philosophy” (Nishida tetsugaku), when Nishida was first developing his conception of “place” (basho). Nishida here inquires into the relationship between logic and consciousness in terms of place and implacement in order to overcome the shortcomings of previous philosophical attempts—from the ancient Greeks to the moderns—to dualistically conceive the relationship between being and knowing in terms of subject-object or form-matter. During the course of articulating his novel approach to consciousness and cognition, Nishida discusses what he takes to be the weaknesses of Greek hylomorphism, Kantian (and neo-Kantian) dualism, and Husserlian phenomenology. Dissatisfied with the attribution of mere passivity to placiality, and turning away from consciousness objectified as a subject of statement, Nishida imparts to consciousness qua place a certain logical independence as an active yet un-objectifiable “predicate.” This investigation of consciousness as the unobjectifiable place for objectification leads Nishida to the notion of what precedes consciousness itself, a “place of nothing” (mu no basho) that envelops the dichotomized structures of subject-predicate, being-nothing, subject-object, universal-particular, et cetera.



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