Nishitani Keiji critiques both scientism and liberalism as standpoints that fail to overcome the nihilism underlying modernity. In his stance against scientism, Nishitani claims that the idealized discourses of scientific rationality has reduced subjectivity to thinking and acting in mechanistic ways. As the world progressively mechanizes, there is a reversal of the controller becoming the controlled, where the laws of nature and the technological machine reassume control over humanity. By being an object of mechanization, subjectivity becomes an object of domination and thus surrenders its own natural propensity for absolute freedom. Liberalism fares no better. Within this standpoint, there is a foreclosure of the totality of individual expression and realization of absolute freedom because it requires subjectivity to submit and therefore attach oneself to an abstract universal law that champions freedom of the will. Demanding equality based on a liberal notion of freedom not only means subjectivity has to give up part of itself in order for freedom and equality to achieved, but also in the very pursuit of making equality for all, subjectivity is often galvanized toward violence in its commitment to policing this universal law, without any awareness of its underlying nihilism. Combined together, Nishitani's critiques of scientism and liberalism point to the various problems of deploying economic liberalism as a philosophical doctrine for justifying global capitalism. Toward that end, this article demonstrates the importance of Nishitani's critiques of modernity for disrupting the "common sense" position in today's hegemonic discourse.


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pp. 233-252
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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