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1st Unit : 6th Study Group Session

1st Unit : 6th Study Group Session

The Origins of the Theory of the Identity of Phenomena and Reality : Nishida Kitaro's Philosophy and Philosophy of Innate Knowledge

The 6th Study Meeting, the 1st Unit

The 6th study group session of the 1st Unit was held on 22 March in Meeting room of School of Literature at the Hakusan Campus of Toyo University. A paper was presented by Shojiguchi Satoshi on "The Origins of the Theory of the Identity of Phenomena and Reality: Nishida Kitaro (西田幾多郎)'s Philosophy and Philosophy of Innate Knowledge (liangzhi 良知)." This was an extremely thought-provoking paper that focused on the view of reality in theories of the actualization of innate knowledge, typified by Wang Ji (王畿: 1498-1583), as a philosophical source of Nishida Kitaro's theory of the identity of phenomena and reality.

According to Shojiguchi, the idea that phenomena are no different from reality is one that prompts an awareness of, respect for, trust in, and adaptation to the "reality" that is constantly being actualized as the "strict unity of consciousness," transcending the individual, over and above the mind of a living, functioning human being in concrete situations in everyday life, and it there seeks opportunities for breaking free from and transcending the self. Nishida referred to this "reality" in various ways, calling it "pure experience" or the "latent force," "a certain unifier," "a certain latent entity," "a certain general entity," "universal consciousness" or "personality" that is continually operating at the base of this "pure experience," and this shows remarkable accord with the idea of "innate knowledge" in Wang Ji's theory of the actualization of innate knowledge. In addition, Nishida considered the "true meaning of religion" to lie in "breaking beyond one's own consciousness and experiencing the lofty universal spirit that functions at the base of consciousness," and in this respect too it accords with the philosophy of innate knowledge, which aspires to live in accordance with one's original self as a "sage" in the now-here by experiencing for oneself every moment the workings of innate knowledge as the "root of the myriad transformations" and the "base of the heaven, earth, and myriad entities". Shojiguchi concluded that the philosophy of both Nishida and Wang Ji was underpinned by nothing other than the theory that human nature is innately good, that is, the theory of the identity of phenomena and reality.

The 6th Study Meeting, the 1st Unit

In the question-and-answer session there was lively discussion of questions such as the difference between Nishida's theory of "pure experience" and Wang Ji's theory of the "actualization of innate knowledge," the question of "otherness" in their respective ethics, and the position of "knowledge" and "intelligence" in their philosophy, and the meeting ended successfully.