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  3. 1st Unit : 5th Meeting of Study Group Series “Views of Humanity and the World in the Meiji Period”

1st Unit : 5th Meeting of Study Group Series “Views of Humanity and the World in the Meiji Period”

"The views of humanity and worldviews found in An Inquiry Into the Good"

 

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  On November 12, 2014, Shirai Masato (IRCP Research Associate) gave a presentation entitled “The views of humanity and worldviews found in An Inquiry Into the Good” at the Hakusan Campus of Toyo University (Building 5, Room 5303). This seminar was held as part of the meeting of study group series entitled “Views of Humanity and the World in the Meiji Period.”

  Shirai first provided a review of the first half of Nishida Kitarō’s life until he wrote An Inquiry Into the Good, and clarified the background behind this review in order to illuminate the views of humanity and worldviews found in An Inquiry Into the Good. Despite having studied the Chinese classics and mathematics and written a letter during his high school days rejecting religion, Nishida came to suffer from employment and family problems after graduating from university. Amid such suffering, his understanding of religion deepened through interactions with Christian missionaries and the practice of Zen Buddhist meditation. Given this backdrop, it was pointed out that the views of humanity and worldviews found in An Inquiry Into the Good were heavily influenced by not just Buddhism but also by Christianity. It was also pointed out that, due to Nishida’s education concerning the Chinese classics, one cannot overlook the influence exerted by Confucianism and especially neo-Confucianism.

  Based on the above insights, the contents of An Inquiry Into the Good were treated. Personalism, which emphasizes the independence of individuals, is highly notable as a human perspective found in An Inquiry Into the Good. An important term in An Inquiry Into the Good, a “pure experience” refers to actions in the formation of unity but can be thought of as actions that set individuals apart through unity. The book also has a worldview that regarded the unity of the world as something good. However, Nishida himself pointed out that, in order to emphasize salvation by faith alone, the problem of a deity as another being who will bring about the salvation of the self is potentially included.

  Nishida Kitarō’s An Inquiry Into the Good includes not just traditional elements of the Chinese classics and Buddhism, but also new elements from the Meiji period that constituted liberal ideas that stressed Christian teachings and the individual. The form of An Inquiry Into the Good was etched into this seminar as a multifaceted piece of writing that incorporates both traditions and innovativeness. Thus, the clarification of the significance of An Inquiry Into the Good amid the flow of intellectual history in the Meiji period was a considerable achievement of this seminar.2