1st Unit : Workshop

1st Unit : Workshop

"Nishida Kitaro's Philosophy of Religion: from the standpoints of Christianity and Buddhism"

1st Unit : Workshop

On July 11, the workshop, "Nishida Kitaro's Philosophy of Religion: from the standpoints of Christianity and Buddhism" was held at Room 5201, Hakusan Campus, Toyo University. Three persons were invited as speakers: Gereon Kopf, associate professor at Luther College in the U.S., and visiting researcher at the IRCP, Kosaka Kunitsugu, professor at Nihon University, and Ishii Samoa, lecturer at Japan Lutheran College and Seminary. Heat discussions about Nishida Kitaro's philosophy of religion were made at the workshop.

1st Unit : Workshop

First, Gereon Kopf, who is known as a Buddhist scholar, took up Nishida's term, "byojotei [everyday depth]," from the standpoint of Buddhism, particularly Zen Buddhism. When Nishida used that term, he associated it with such phrases in the Rinzairoku or the Mumonkan [Gateless Gate] as "byojoshin kore do" or "byojo buji." Kopf brought the characteristics of Nishida's use of the term "byojotei" into sharp relief by clarifying the context in which the word "byojo" is used in Zen Buddhism. According to Kopf, analects of Zen priests (zengoroku) have a multilayered structure. In analects of Zen priests, an actual Zen dialogue, its interpretation by the editor of the analects, poems by the editor, and other texts and practices which quote the dialogue overlap with each other in a multilayered manner. Without paying attention to such multilayered intertextuality, Nishida used the term "byojotei" from the perspective of his own context in order to construct his non-dualistic system. At the same time, however, it was pointed out that we should not forget great achievement by Nishida, including his incorporation of Buddhist concepts into a system of academic philosophy and vice versa, as well as his construction of a non-dualistic system.

1st Unit : Workshop

Next, Ishii Samoa discussed the problem of Nishida's philosophy and Christianity, focusing on the problem of love. First of all, Ishii briefly explained the meaning of religion in Nishida's philosophy and the significance of taking up Christianity. She then discussed the problem of Christian agape through the problem of "I and thou." For Nishida, the relation between I and thou is one in which those, who can never become unified into one, respond to each other. Furthermore, thou, who are to respond, include "I of yesterday," and so I am always exposed to the call of thou who always press for my response. Responsibility means a possibility of response. Therefore, I have unlimited responsibility to the call of thou who always press for my response. Since a limited human being, however, cannot discharge unlimited responsibility, I am bound to have a sense of guilt as an original sin. The agape of God is then conceivable as a possibility for human rebirth under this sense of guilt. As God annihilates himself, a human being relates to the other through the love of God. In this way, Nishida's absolute nothingness was developed as philosophy of religion gazing at the fundament of human beings while crossing sword with Christian agape.

1st Unit : Workshop

Lastly, Kosaka Kunitsugu gave a talk which surveyed the philosophy of religion developed by Nishida Kitaro. Kosaka characterized Nishida's philosophy of religion through examining three pieces of work in which Nishida clearly set forth his conception of religion. First, Nishida's conception of religion in the Zen-no Kenkyu [An Inquiry into the Good], a representative work in his early period, was reviewed and characterized as being sympathetic to pantheism, regarding religion as an extension of morality, and making few positive statements about the problem of evil. On the one hand, in the Eichiteki Sekai [Intelligible World], a representative work in his middle period, religion was conceived through the breakdown of moral self, and the discontinuity between morality and religion was emphasized. It was also pointed out, however, that Nishida's conception of religion in this period strongly characterized by his understanding of religion as a self-denial on the part of self. His posthumous paper, Bashoteki Ronri To Shukyoteki Sekaikan [The Logic of Place and the Religious Worldview] proposed "gyaku taiou [inverse correlation]," in which our self-denial of our self and the self-denial by a transcendent being are united into one. It was also emphasized that Nishida is noteworthy for envisioning "Christ as internal transcendence" whereas Buddhism is conceivable as "immanent transcendence" and Christianity is conceivable as "transcendent immanence."

After the talks by the three, questions and answers were exchanged among speakers and then between speakers and the audience, resulting in lively discussions. The workshop drew a large audience and turned out to be quite successful.