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In this Japanese name, the family name is Nishida.
西田 幾多郎 Nishida Kitaro
Full name 西田 幾多郎 Nishida Kitaro
Born May 19, 1870(1870-05-19)
Died June 7, 1945 (aged 75)
Era 20th century philosophy
Region Japanese philosophy
School Kyoto School
Main interests Zen Buddhism, Moral philosophy
Notable ideas Logic of Basho (non-dualistic concrete logic), Absolute Nothingness

Kitaro Nishida (西田 幾多郎 Nishida Kitarō; 1870, Ishikawa Prefecture – 1945) was a prominent Japanese philosopher, founder of what has been called the Kyoto School of philosophy. He graduated from The University of Tokyo during the Meiji Era in 1894 with a degree in philosophy. He was named professor of the Fourth High School in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1899 and later became professor of philosophy at Kyoto University. Nishida retired in 1927. Later in his retirement, in 1940, he was awarded the Order of Culture (文化勲章, bunka kunshō). He participated in establishing the (千葉工業大学, Chiba Institute of Technology) from 1940. Nishida Kitaro died at the age of seventy-five of a renal infection. His grave is located at Reiun'in (霊雲院, reiun in), a temple in the Myoshin-ji compound in Kyoto.



Having been born in the third year of the Meiji Era, Nishida was presented with a newly unique opportunity to contemplate eastern philosophical issues in the fresh light that western philosophy shone on them. Nishida's original and creative philosophy, incorporating ideas of both Zen and western philosophy, was aimed at bringing the East and West closer. Throughout his lifetime, Nishida published a number of books and essays including "An Inquiry into the Good" and "The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious Worldview." Taken as a whole, Nishida’s life work was the foundation for the Kyoto School of Philosophy and the inspiration for the original thinking of his disciples. The most famous concept in Nishida's philosophy is the logic of basho (Japanese: 場所; usually translated as "place" or "topos"), a non-dualistic concrete logic, meant to overcome the inadequacy of the subject-object distinction essential to the subject logic of Aristotle and the predicate logic of Kant, through the affirmation of what he calls the "absolutely contradictory self-identity", a dynamic tension of opposites that, unlike the dialectical logic of Hegel, does not resolve in a synthesis, but rather defines its proper subject by maintaining the tension between affirmation and negation as opposite poles or perspectives.


Nishida's support for the militaristic Japanese state has meant that his legacy has been contested. In this respect, he has been compared to Heidegger. Despite this, Nishida remains one of the more significant Japanese philosophers of the Twentieth Century.

According to Masao Abe, "During World War II right wing thinkers attacked him as antinationalistic for his appreciation of Western philosophy and logic. But after the war left wing thinkers criticized his philosophy as nationalistic because of his emphasis on the traditional notion of nothingness. Nishida was, however, neither antinationalistic nor nationalistic. He recognized a kind of universality in Western philosophy and logic but did not accept that it was the only universality."


Preceded by
Department of Philosophy (Chair), Kyoto University
Succeeded by
Hajime Tanabe

See also


  1. ^ Abe, Maso (1987). An Inquiry Into the Good. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. xxv. ISBN 977-0-300-0523.  

Partial bibliography

  • An Inquiry Into the Good (ISBN 0-300-05233-2-), Nishida Kitaro, Translated by Masao Abe and Christopher Ives
  • Last Writings (ISBN 0-8248-1554-8), Nishida Kitaro, Translated by David Dilworth

Secondary resources

  • Zen & Philosophy: An Intellectual Biography of Nishida Kitaro (ISBN 0-8248-2459-8), Michiko Yusa
  • Philosophers of Nothingness (ISBN 0-8248-2481-4), James Heisig
  • Nishida Kitaro (ISBN 0-520-07364-9-), Nishitani Keiji
  • The Logic Of Nothingness: A Study Of Nishida Kitaro (ISBN 0-8248-2969-7), Robert J. J. Wargo
  • The Nothingness beyond God: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Nishida Kitaro (ISBN 1-55778-761-1), Robert E. Carter

External links


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