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World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology

International Journal of Philosophy and Religious Sciences Vol:4, No:1, 2017

International Science Index, Philosophy and Religious Sciences Vol:4, No:1, 2017 waset.org/abstracts/53743

On the Originality of Nishida Kitaro's Unity of Subject and Object: Two


Dimensions of Self and Difference in Degree Problem
Authors : Zenko Takayama
Abstract : Nishida Kitaro, a pioneer of Japanese philosophy, attempted to describe self from a new viewpoint. However, it is
heardly to say that his originality has been understood well so far. In this presentation, by reconsider An Inquiry into the Good,
his first book published in 1911, it is tried to clarify the originality and its contribution to contemporary philosophy. Because
Nishida notes the actual state of self equals the state of unity of subject and object, the self he thinks is often interpreted with
some religious sense. However, this interpreted must be denied. In Nishida already mentions that his idea of unity of subject
and object is not the unity of subject and object we usually think. Nishida thinks that those two concepts subject and object
are merely concepts which describe the concrete self, and therefore inquiring the oneness of the concrete entity actually living
by unifying those two concepts is wrong. The concepts of subject and object are, indeed, generated as we observe the concrete
self and understand its role of the observed in a certain situation, but the unity of subject and object only means that to put
two concepts, only these concepts, together. The state of concrete self thus can be considered as it exists in different
dimension from these concepts. In this presentation, for inquiring the state, first the difference between the dimension in
which the concept of self as subject belongs and the dimension in which concrete self belongs is demonstrated. Then, to
describe the concrete living self, it is described that his notion of difference in degree of unifying activity working in the
concrete self. This notion of difference in degree is employed, by Nishida, to explain everything through the monistic unifying
activity. In other words, Nishida thinks that pluralistic things are generated because we recognize the difference in degree in
the unifying activity working in the concrete self. This monistic description of the concrete self seems to be convincing because
I as a concrete self is always I, a single being, even the I is analyzed as doing diverse activities. To solve the difference in
degree problem, next, it is focused on the difference between the unifying activity and the notion of unity we have imaged.
Unifying activity is literally the activity of unifying something into one. In his view, this one indicates the monistic concrete
self, or I. If we accept that our concrete, actual activities are performed by the concrete self and not by the abstractive
concept of subject and object, then Nishidas attempt is meaningful even today. His contribution, and this is his originality, to
philosophical arguments on self is thus to enable to describe the state of the concrete self on the rigid separation between the
dimension of concept of self and the dimension of concrete self.
Keywords : Nishida Kitaro, concrete self, unity of subject and object, two dimension of self
Conference Title : ICEPR 2017 : 18th International Conference on Eastern Philosophy and Religion
Conference Location : Paris, France
Conference Dates : January 23-24, 2017

International Scholarly and Scientific Research & Innovation 4(1) 2017

scholar.waset.org/1999.45/53743