The historical origins of the Kyoto School of Philosophy of modern Japan, represented by Kitaro Nishida and Hajime Tanabe, may be derived from both the ancient Chinese idea of Change and the ancient Indian Upanishadic idea of the mutual identity of Brahman and Atman. The ancient Chinese idea of Change signifies change as well as non-change, and even their dialectical unification. Both origins are structured by the self-identity of the opposed in logic, and these historical prototypes have been developed into the various forms of Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist philosophy. The notion of Nothingness or Emptiness rather than Being has been set up as the fundamental principle. The principle of Nothingness as ultimate reality has been connected with the logic of self-identity of theopposed, and this is evident in Nishida’s concept of the self-identity in absolute contradistinction that is equivalent to the Place of Absolute Nothingness. Even though Nishida’s idea of Place is directly and explicitly influenced by the ancient Greek idea of Topos, it has indirectly and implicitly been affected by the traditional agricultural society as well, in which the land is regarded as the self-identical substratum despite the cyclic time of the four-seasons change. The ancient Chinese idea of Change also reflects the agricultural society in which the cyclic time plays an important role on the basis of the unchanging self-identical land as the underlying substratum. Nishida succeeds in establishing the new logical expression of Eastern traditional thought, deeply hidden in consciousness, in relation toWestern philosophy. The uniqueness of Nishida’s idea of Place may have its main source in the traditional agricultural background, and in this sense his way of thinking may be rural in character. On the other hand, Tanabe, though following Nishida at first, turns to making criticism of the mentor with the establishment of the triadic logic of species as the dialectic, which is characterized by the perpetual self-negating conversion in action. In contrast to Nishida, Tanabe represents the urban type of thinking, which is in pursuit of transforming in life. While Nishida’s idea of Absolute Nothingness has an affinity with the ancient Chinese philosopher Laotzu’s idea of Nothingness from and into which every entity comes and goes, Tanabe’s concept of Absolute Nothingness as the principle ofconversion is more closed to the Buddhist idea of sunyata, i.e., Emptiness, which is devoid of any substance in itself. As regards evil, the difference between them is obvious in that for Nishida evil and time or history disappear into the ultimate horizon or place of Nothingness with the tendency toward a kind of monism of goodness, whereas for Tanabe evil copes with goodness and retains its own status throughout, never being reduced to the opposed. Even if so, both of them, however, fail to construct a philosophy of history from the epochal or durational viewpoint, compared to Heidegger and Jaspers
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Contemporary Philosophy
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DOI wcp22200881079
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