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The Concept of God in Nisida Kitaro’s An Inquiry into the Good

1Kapranov, SV
1PhD (Philosophy), Senior Fellow A. Yu. Krymskyi Institute of Oriental Studies, NAS of Ukraine 4, Hrushevskoho Str., Kyiv, 01001, Ukraine s_kapranov@yahoo.com
Shodoznavstvo 2021, 88:157-170
https://doi.org/10.15407/skhodoznavstvo2021.88.157
Section: Source Study and Historiography
Language: Ukrainian
Abstract: 

The article is devoted to the analysis of the concept of God, which is one of the leading philosophical concepts in An Inquiry into the Good, the first book of the famous Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro (1870–1945). First of all, the term kami, which Nishida uses to denote God, is considered in the context of the history of translations of this Western term into Japanese. It is shown that the word kami, taken from the lexicon of the Japanese traditional Shinto religion, where it denotes numerous deities, is used by Nishida in a new sense, namely monotheistic. Although he was not the first who did such a thing, it is important to note that it is one of the neologisms that emerged in the Japanese philosophical vocabulary of the Meiji period under Western influence. Next, the article analyzes the sources on which Nishida relies in developing his concept of God, to which of the thinkers he refers. The vast majority of them are Western authors, among whom in the first place are mystics. The place of the concept of God in the general context of the philosophical system of An Inquiry into the Good is also analyzed. The article shows that in his first book, Nishida Kitaro developed an original doctrine of God that differed from both traditional Japanese religio-philosophical teachings and Christianity, which became popular among Japanese intellectuals during the Meiji period. Nishida asserts the universality of the idea of God, understanding it very broadly, in particular, identifying God and Buddha. Further, Nishida considers God not in terms of speculative metaphysics, but as a fact of pure experience. The way to it is in self-discipline, austerity, which can give a person “eyes that can see God”. In addition, Nishida rejects the extremes of theism and pantheism, arguing a kind of panentheism. The God of Nishida is neither the transcendent God of the Abrahamic religions, nor the impersonal Absolute; at the same time, it is not an abstract “God of philosophers”, but rather the God of mystics, infinitely distant in its unknowability, but also incredibly close in mystical experience. But this doctrine is set forth not in the vague language of mystical revelations, but in the clear and logical language of modern Western philosophy.

Keywords: God, Japanese philosophy, Nishida, panentheism, pure experience

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