Ethics and politics in the early Nishida: Reconsidering "zen no kenkyū"

Philosophy East and West 53 (4):514-536 (2003)
Abstract
The early Nishida has conventionally been seen as an apolitical thinker, concerned primarily with religious philosophy. In itself this constitutes a political reading of Nishida's work, since it represents an attempt to distance (and thus "save") his wider philosophy from his dubious political practice during the 1930s and 1940s. However, a fresh reading of Nishida's debut, "Zen no kenkyū" (An inquiry into the good), reveals a distinctive political agenda and a sophisticated philosophy of political ethics. Counterintuitively, this essay suggests that Nishida's politics, at least in his "early period," provides a sound philosophical basis for a critique of imperialism and ultranationalism
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