Identity and the unity of experience: A critique of Nishida's theory of self

by Putney, David

Asian Philosophy

Vol. 1 No. 2 1991


Copyright by Asian Philosophy

Introduction Nishida Kitaro culminated his attempt to formulate a theory of 'self' in his late work, The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious Worldview [1] (Bashoteki Ronri To Shukyoteki Sekaikan), using the 'concrete logic' (gutaiteki ronri) of 'place' (basho). In so doing, he abandoned 'object logic' [2] (taisho ronri), which is presupposed in theories which define the self as either an atomic entity distinct from (but interactive with) other entities, or as something identical with the totality (or God) [3]. This was a rejection of both atomism and monism or pantheism. The identity of the self, according to Nishida, must be explained both in terms of individual consciousness and in terms of its universal nature. He termed such an identity a 'contradictory identity' (mujun-teki jiko doitsu), a notion which cannot be accommodated to traditional (or 'object') logic. The problem of 'identity' has been a key metaphysical issue in both Eastern and Western philosophy from classical times. In the light of Nishida's endeavour throughout his career to construct a dialogue between East and West, I propose critically to explore his logic of 'contradictory identity' by looking into the key Western and Buddhist roots of the Philosophy of Identity in order to construct a context by which we may understand and critique Nishida's theory. It is my thesis that Nishida, by insisting on a 'contradictory identity', has embraced the very 'object logic' abandoned by the Buddhists as well as by modern Western philosophers such as Nietzsche, James and Derrida. Nishida insists that he is attempting to create a concrete logic. To be truly concrete, however, Nishida cannot describe experience in the abstract, or in terms of abstract logical categories. Nishida's approach, nevertheless, moves away from the phenomenological towards logical abstraction, and, in so doing, this methodology moves him away from his own stated objectives [5]. The irony is that Western figures such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, James and Derrida have tried to develop a methodology to attain what, in effect, Nishida calls a 'logic of the East' by abandoning the very categories that Nishida resurrects from more traditional Western philosophy. Identity in Heraclitus, Parmenides and Aristotle The Problem of Temporal Identity Nishida examines the 'logic of identity' in the light of Western philosophy and Buddhist philosophy. The foundations of the Western conception of identity were formulated by the early Greek philosophers, who explored the problem of identity from both spatial and temporal perspectives. Spatially, objects or bodies were conceived of as conglomerates, composed either of elements (as suggested by such philosophers as Thales and Empedocles), or of atoms (by Democritus and Leucippus) [6]. Temporality was also of considerable concern to the Presocratics in their attempt to explain the mechanism of change. Heraclitus and Parmenides are of particular importance to our inquiry: Heraclitus for his theories of flux and logos and Parmenides for his denial of flux, his logic and his monistic theory of Being. Heraclitus advocated a theory of flux and impermanance, his most well-known expression of which is the simile of the river: "You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters and yet others go ever flowing on" [7]. By implication the world, like the river, is in a constant state of change, or flux. The problem of identity, of course, arises when we attempt to speak of the 'same river' as enduring, in some sense, through time. In the case of the river, every material aspect is constantly changing: the waters are rushing by and even the stream bed is gradually changing its course through erosion. Every material component of 'the river' is in constant flux. But, if so, what is it that changes? It cannot, as shown, be the material elements of the river, since these are in constant flux; nor can it be merely the formal or generic nature of the river qua river, since we can certainly distinguish the change of this particular river from the change of that particular river. We thus have neither a material nor a formal identity through time. Yet, it is surely incorrect to say that a river becomes an absolutely different river from moment to moment since we recognise and refer to it with the same name at different times. Heraclitus was well aware of this difficulty which he expressed with the paradox: "Into the same river we both step and do not step. We both are and are not" [8]. Clearly, Heraclitus admitted a continuity of change. The river does not change into another kind of thing, such as a mountain; nor does it change into a distinctly different river, such as the Nile changing into the Indus. Thus, there is a sense in which the Nile one thousand years ago is the Nile of today and this identity can make sense only as a continuity of development or evolution over time. What we call 'the Nile' is the totality of these changes. There is no thing which remains unchanged through time: there is no absolute identity through time nor an absolute difference. Expressed paradoxically, it is the same and yet not the same. Thus, the logic of "It either is the 'same river' or it is not the 'same river' " does not adequately express the ambiguity of the concept 'same': the ambiguity of 'identity'. Heraclitus also applies this paradox to personal identity as well: we "both are and are not" [9]. An adult named John, for example, is not the same person as the child, John; yet the adult, John, is not a different person in the same sense that John is different from Fred. Although he never develops a complete theory of personhood, it is clear that, for Heraclitus, the person has the qualities of both impermanence and continuity. Parmenides, however, argued against Heraclitus's theory of flux, saying that Being was unchanging and undifferentiated. This conclusion was based on the logical proposition that: "Either it simply is or it simply is not" [10]. That "which is not," he argued, "is inconceivable," and, "It is impossible to say or think that not-being is" [11]. The notions of time, motion, and change cannot be applied to true Being because "what is has no beginning and never will be destroyed" [12]. 'Coming to be' (becoming) is impossible since this would mean that there was a time when 'it' was not and a time when 'it' will be not. Something cannot come from nothing nor become nothing [13]. Thus, that which is is 'immovable', 'without beginning or end', complete, uniform, and without parts [14]. Paramenides' theory of Being was entirely derived from the logic of the excluded middle, imposed on the world at the expense of experience. The logic of the excluded middle applies to contradictory propositions; yet, Parmenides' conception is packed with such metaphysical assumptions that the proposition: 'It either is or it is not,' is not a valid contradictory. This is because Parmenides conceives of Being as an unchanging existent and of change as something coming into being from nothing and then becoming nothing again. That our experience includes change as well as diversity, was recognised by Plato and Aristotle. Yet both Plato and Aristotle were convinced that Parmenides' conception of Being, as eternal and unchanging, must be true, at least at the most basic level. They were convinced that, in the change of any material thing there is something essential which remains the same and something non-essential which changes [15]. Plato attempted to resolve this issue by applying Heraclitus' theory of flux to the phenomenal world, and Parmenides' unchanging Being to the reality behind the phenomenal world, the reality which gives order and meaning to change, and from which change derives. This reality which informs change he called the world of 'Forms' or 'Ideas' (eidos). Aristotle, uncomfortable with the idea of Forms as independent existents, thought that nothing could exist apart from concrete individuals [16]. The particular individual, the concrete being, is the result of the immanent, or indwelling Form (eidos) giving shape to the 'matter' (hyle), since Form without matter has no substance, and substance without form has no qualities. The true 'primary being' is the concrete individual. It is in the concrete individual that changes of qualities occur, since neither the Form nor the matter are themselves produced [17]. Thus, for Aristotle, the concrete individual exists in a state of a flux of qualities, but within the individual is the matter which acts as the substrate, and as long as the individual is what it is, a particular kind of something, its essence, its definition remains constant. For 'what is passing away must still have something of what has passed away; and of what is coming to be, something must already be' [18]. Thus, Aristotle's substrate which provides for continuity of change includes the matter and its immanent Form. Yet even with this emphasis on the concrete individual as the only truly primary being, the individual qua individual is unknowable [19]. The subject is that on which everything else is predicated, while it is itself not predicated on anything else [20]. This is because there can be no definition of concrete objects. The content of knowledge is never the particular, which is attained through sense perception, but the universal, which is predicated on it [21]. The individual can only be known 'denotatively', or 'perceptually' [22]. Nishida was critical of Aristotle's theory of the individual as primary substance (proto ousia) [23]. Nishida did not agree that the essence of the individual, either as matter, the substrate of change, or as essence, a particular kind of thing, was unchanging. For Nishida, the substrate, or the 'that in which' change occurs, was itself changing [24]. Nishida argued that even a radical flux theory of change could provide a dynamic and evolving 'structure which is a continuity of discontinuity' [25]. Moreover, turning Aristotle's argument that the forms can not "explain movement or change in perceptible objects" [26] against the very idea of an unchanging essence, Nishida argued that as long as the universal, the general, that by which a thing can be known, is unchanging, "change, or action cannot arise from it" [27]. Causality must be operative in both directions: the universal on the particular and the particular on the universal: nature on the particular and the particular on nature [28]. The 'individual thing' as the 'active self' was, for Nishida, "the ultimate point of determination of the universal" [29]. The active self "lives by dying" [30]. It "is a continuity of a discontinuity" [31]. It "destroys the present ... in the process of changing it" [32]. Thus, Nishida finds much in common with Heraclitus. Although the logos is that which is "common to all" [33]. Heraclitus never commits himself to an ontological unchanging essence as a substrate for change. The universe itself, for Heraclitus, is ever changing, "an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures" [34]. Even the soul is in "ceaseless flux" [35]. For both Nishida and Heraclitus, a logic that requires strict equivalence cannot be applied to relations of a temporal entity with itself at different times [36]. We cannot truly say that 'Being A' at t[1] is identical to 'Being A' at t[2] nor can we truly say that 'Being A' at t[1] is not identical to 'Being A' at t[2]. As Philip Wheelwright has noted, for Heraclitus, "Nothing is exclusively this or that ... Paradox lies inextricably at the very heart of reality." The river is "always becoming other than what it is at any given moment" [37]. It is the 'same' and yet not the 'same'. "A paradoxical utterance," he argues, "announces that ... two contrary processes [creation and destruction] are both going on all the time, and that their continual and varying tension is what makes existence and life possible" [38]. This notion of process is basic to what Nishida terms 'contradictory identity'. The One and the Many The problem of identity also arises when we examine Heraclitus' distinction between the individual and the totality. In one fragment, he asserts that according to 'Logos', "All things are one" [39]. Does this imply that the particular and the whole share some kind of identity? Heraclitus recognizes both the individual and the totality, but insists that these must be understood as an evolving relation. The individual and the whole form a unity, but the activity of the individuals qua individuals continues: "Things taken together are whole and not whole, something which is being brought together and brought apart, which is in tune and out of tune; out of all things there comes a unity, and out of a unity all things" [40]. The particulars give rise to the whole and the whole to the particulars: the universe evolves through the interplay of particulars and totality [41]. Of special interest to our study of Nishida is Heraclitus's theory of opposites as expressed in the following fragments: The harmony of the world is a harmony of oppositions, as in the case of the bow and of the lyre. [42] God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, plenty and want. But he [God] is changed, just as when incense is mingled with incense, but named according to the pleasure of each. [43] In the first fragment, it is precisely through the opposition of opposites that harmony is attained. In the second fragment, each member of a pair of opposites has meaning in relation to its counterpart and in relation to 'God', presumably here the totality of all changes. These relationships are all in constant flux, the objects, as well as God. If we try to interpret this situation in terms of static 'objects' we find confusion. Thus, Plato, realising the implications of a thoroughgoing Heraclitan flux for Parmenidean either/or logic, appends a final thought to the last speech of Parmenides in his dialogue The Parmenides as follows: [Parmenides] "Thus, in sum, we may conclude, if there is no one, there is nothing at all." [Socrates] "To this we may add the conclusion. It seems that, whether there is or is not a one, both that one and the others alike are and are not and appear and do not appear to be, all manner of things in all manner of ways, with respect to themselves and to one another." [44] Here, Plato's quandary reminds us of Nishida's 'contradictory identity', where something is what it is and yet is more than what it is [45]. But, note that this 'identity' can only be contradictory from the point of view of the logic or 'either/or', what Nishida calls 'object logic', when logical contradictories are applied uncritically to the world. For Heraclitus and Nishida, the individual is neither an atomic being existing independently from the rest of nature, not is that individual the totality of nature. It is a confusion to maintain that a particular individual is either separate from or identical with the remainder of nature. the Identity of the Self A foundational concept for Nishida's philosophy was the Mahayana Buddhist concept of 'Absolute Nothingness' (zettai mu). Although the concept appears obliquely, on a generic level of discourse, throughout his early and middle period writings, in his final four years he came to examine this concept in a more explicit Buddhist context [46]. To what degree was Nishida faithful to this tradition and to the larger Buddhist tradition in general? Two of the most basic of Buddhist teachings are the doctrines of 'impermanence' (anitya) and 'no-self' (anatman). According to the doctrine of 'impermanence' nothing is found in experience that does not change, that does not pass away; nor is there any such entity posited beyond experience. According to the doctrine of 'no-self', there is no abiding, permanent self, soul, or essence (atman) in objects, living or otherwise, found in experience. And, here also, there is no such entity determined to exist merely through reason, or based on some authority [47]. The only meaningful notion of the 'self', for the Buddha, was the aggregate which he called the 'psycho-physical personality' (nama-rupa). This aggregate is composed of five interacting sub-aggregates: the body (rupa), feeling (vedana), perception (samjna), encrusted mental and personality habits and volitions (samskaras), and consciousness (vijnana) [48]. Except for a few scholastic schools such as the Sarvastivadins, there was no attempt to posit these factors or other components of these factors as ultimate atomic entities. This earliest of Buddhist teachings was designed to: 1) deny the existence of a permanent, self-identical entity through time, and 2) to stress the interrelated nature between the parts both among themselves and with the whole. The existence of each is defined and determined through its interactions with the others [49]. Of critical importance to our inquiry is the Buddhist doctrine of the Middle Path, especially as applied to rigid concepts such as existence and non-existence. I say rigid because once something is said to exist, there is often an implication that there is something concrete or essential which remains unchanged. But if we allow with Heraclitus that the world and everything in it is in constant change, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to apply the term 'existence', with the meaning of 'unchanging essence', to temporal entities in flux. This difficulty is well illustrated in the Early Buddhist text, the Kaccayanagotta-Sutta. This world Kaccayana, is generally inclined towards two [views]: existence (atthita) and non-existence (n'atthita). To him who perceives with right wisdom the arising of the world as it has come to be, the notion of 'nonexistence' does not occur [50]. On the other hand, to him who perceives with right wisdom the ceasing of the world as it has come to be, the notion of 'existence' in the world does not occur. [51] Thus for the Buddhists, neither of the abstract concepts or categories, 'being' and 'non-being', apply to the world which is experienced as a world of flux [52]. Nor is any appeal made to an ideal world of changeless forms. Instead, the Buddha taught a 'middle path' between these two extremes: his theory of 'Dependent Arising' (pratitya-samutpada), a kind of mutal interdependence of existents in flux. Although the rejection of both 'being' and 'non-being' would seem to be a rejection of the 'law of the excluded middle', this is not necessarily the case. This is because both terms carry a complement of metaphysical presuppositions, which, when explicitly stated, are not true contradictories. The proposition, as the Indians understood it, would have been that 'Either there is Being (sat), permanent and unchanging, or there is Non-being (asat), discontinuity or chaos'. The Buddha argued that neither of these was the case. There is a sense, however, where 'being', or rather, 'becoming' (bhava), does apply to experience, and in this context 'beings' would be understood as a 'continuity of aggregates' (skandhas), evolving through time. The proposition: "Either there are 'becoming aggregates' or 'there are not' ", would be a valid contradictory for the Buddhists. The problem is precisely that in ordinary language at least two different conceptions of 'being' are confused and misunderstood. One of these might be the conception of persons and things as recognisable phenomena, names given to sets of related experiences, or compounded aggregates, or parts, or elements, experienced through time [53]. Another view, as we have already discussed in the context of Greek philosophy, and which is found in Indian Vedantic philosophy, is of 'being' as a substance, substrate, or essence which itself cannot be directly experienced. Nevertheless, such an entity is assumed to exist as the necessary substrate of change and the carrier of essence and identity. This latter belief, argue the Buddhists, leads to a belief in permanence which in turn leads to the suffering which arises from the impossibility of experiencing or attaining such permanence. Nagarjuna and the Perfection of Wisdom Tradition The Early Mahayana philosopher Nagarjuna (c. 150-250 AD), recognised as a patriarch by all of the Mahayana schools, attempted to show that the problem of identity permeates metaphysical theories and systems in general. In his work the Mulamadhyamaka-Karika, Nagarjuna examines the major metaphysical conceptions liable to this type of hypostatisation and systematically rejects all dichotomies founded on any notion of static, absolute being. The concept of the Middle Path as a mean between dichotomous concepts is expressed in reference to the story of the Buddha's teaching to Katyayana, (Pali, Kaccayana), regarding the two theories of 'Existence' (asti) and 'Non-existence' (nasti) as being forms of 'Externalism' (sasvata-graha) and 'Annihilationism' (uccheda-darsana). Nagarjuna argues, in his admonition to Katyayana, that both (the theory asserting that a Being) 'exists' and (the theory that it) 'does not exist' are disallowed by the Blessed One who is accomplished in (theories of) 'existence' and 'non-existence'. (15.7) [54] 'Exists' implies grasping after eternalism. 'Does not exist' implies the philosophy of annihilation. Therefore, a discerning person should not rely upon either existence or non-existence. (15.10) [55] Nagarjuna thus reaffirms the Buddha's critique that the 'extreme' theories of absolute 'existence' and 'non-existence' are merely generalised abstractions which cannot be applied to reality, or 'things as they are (or have become)' (yathabhutam) [56]. This concern for a 'middle path' is shown in his discussion of the use and misuse of concepts of 'self' and 'no self': The Buddhas have made known the conception of self and taught the doctrine of no-self. At the same time, they have not spoken of something as the self or as the non-self. (18:6) [57] Here, Nagarjuna accepts the 'conventional', or temporal 'self', but rejects the idea that there is some 'thing' which underlies the self, a substrate for the conventional self. At the same time he rejects the notion of a ground or substrate for the no-self (anatman), as well. Thus, Nagarjuna avoids the hypostatisation of both self and no-self. It is in the context of this tradition that Nishida defines enlightenment as 'the ultimate seeing of the bottomless nothingness of the self [58]. Nagarjuna also steers a 'middle path' between absolute identity and absolute difference, eternalism and annihilationism. That which arises depending on something [59], is not identical nor different from [that which it arises from.] Therefore, it is neither annihilated nor eternal. [18:10) [60] In the continuous formation of a temporal conventional 'entity' there can be no absolute identity through time, nor absolute difference. No accommodation is made here to a trans-temporal and permanent entity or to an atomic theory of moments. The temporal being is by its very nature a continuity of change. Nor can reference be made to particular 'entities' absolutely distinct from other 'entities'. Everything is interrelated and 'entities' form like ripples in a flowing stream, maintaining an internal continuity for a time and then vanishing into the larger stream. Neither Nagarjuna nor the Early Buddhists understood the 'self' in terms of a contradictory identity, although both did make use of the paradox. In order for such an identity to be truly contradictory there would necessarily need to be an assertion that both sides of the logical dichotomy were true, since this is what makes them contradictory. For the Buddhist there is no such assertion. They do not say that the self is both identical and not identical. It is only the 'extreme' hypostasized notions of atomic, unchanging being, or of deterministic causality which might produce such a contradiction. Nishida's Theory of Self as Contradictory Identity A Monadic But Universal Self In his The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious Worldview [61], Nishida denies the existence of an unchanging, permanent, and essential self. Indeed, he partially develops the traditional Buddhist doctrine that a search for such self is fruitless: "In the depths of our selves there is nothing to be found; everywhere is 'nothingness' [62]. Nishida instead advocates a continuity of discontinuity [63], a continuity of momentary conscious selves, self-created anew as a unique entity from moment to moment: The true individual arises as a momentary self-determination of the absolute present. [64] 'Momentary self-determination' consists in the act of consciously creating the 'self, both as a unique temporal being and as a being 'expressing' the world in itself. That we are consciously active means that we mould the world by expressing it in terms of our [individual] selves within ourselves. This means that the world is necessarily subjectivized in our individual 'selves'. [65] Nishida derives much of this imagery from Leibniz. In a specific reference to Leibniz Nishida writes: As in the Monadology, each monad expresses the world and simultaneously is an originating point of the world's self-expression. [66] This is a development of Leibniz's thesis that each monad expresses the whole universe from its own point of view [67] as we see clearly in the following passage by Nishida: What is the nature of the existence of the self of conscious activity? The existence of the self is [found] in the fashioning of the self through self-expression. This includes the self-expression of the world within the [particular] self of each individual. It is the determination of the world of contradictory identity through self-expression. [68] He diverges from Leibniz by stressing 'self-expression' as a creative act "without an underlying substance or ground" [69]. It is a "transformation from the created to the creating". [70] There is nothing at all that determines the self at the very ground of the self. If there is nothing instinctive in the direction of the grammatical subject, there is nothing rational in the direction of the predicate. The self is ultimately groundless. [71] Here, Nishida is advocating a form of 'absolute freedom', where "in its own bottomlessly immanent depths the self never finds itself' [72]. The self is not bound by instinct arising from its nature as object, a product of the world, nor by reason arising through universals or forms, which allow us to rationally understand the world [73]. Paradoxically, however, this 'groundless self, this 'determination of the self as a 'focal point of the world' becomes the focus of the absolute present which includes within itself the eternal past and the eternal future" [74]. The entire universe, past, present and future, in effect, infinitely creates itself through an infinity of individual focal centres originating in unique monadic selves, all within an infinite circle, "where every point, every act of consciousness, is a center radiating in infinity" [75]. Here, Nishida seems to anticipate Whitehead's notion of 'contrescence', which is defined as the process by which "the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively" [76]. Object Logic It might be argued that the status of the 'self vis-a-vis freedom is at least ambiguous in a metaphysical system where each monadic self is said to reflect the eternity, past, present and future, of the entire universe. Nishida's system, like that of Leibniz [77], seems at times to suggest a kind of determinism, yet for Nishida, as we have already noted, "there is nothing at all that determines the self at the very ground of the self' [78]. For Nishida, the thesis that monadic selves are determined through necessity is a form of 'object logic' [79], according to which past events (or objects) are conceived as separate 'entities' from future events (or objects) and that future events are determined by past events, through a form of external causation. Events (or objects) thus become mere passive recipients of causal efficacy. If the universe, however, is an infinite and self-determining totality, it must create itself at all times and all places. There can be no absolute distinctions of here and there, past and future, this and that; these distinctions are transcended in "a dialectic of mutual negation and affirmation of self and other" [80]. This, indeed, is the very definition of 'contradictory identity'. Nishida further defines this 'identity' in terms of the eternal moment of birth and death: The self is a paradoxical existence. While we reflect the world in the self, the self is contained within the absolute other. It is born to die and dies to live. While each moment in time eternally arises and perishes, that which eternally arises, in other words, the moment, is the eternal. [81] But the problem for Nishida is that he himself seems bound to 'object logic'. The very notion of a 'contradictory identity' assumes it as he himself admits: I do not exclude object logic, but I hold that it can exist only as a dialectical moment within a concrete logic. [82] Propositions and concepts cannot be contradictory unless one asserts that both sides of a dichotomy are true; they cannot be contradictory if the dichotomy itself is rejected. The very notion of the self as a monad appeals to 'object' logic, as does the notion of the universe as a totality, as does the notion of 'contradictory identity'. Nishida's attempt to accept and at the same time transcend 'object logic' is clearly meant as a dialectical movement, but it also suggests a confusion. The 'paradoxes' which Nishida ascribes to Nagarjuna, the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, and, as I will show in the following section, the koans of the Zen schools, on the other hand, were attempts to show the inherent confusion in the uncritical use of, to use Nishida's term, 'object logic', and to focus the attention of the practitioner on experience, rather than on an adherence to temporally and spatially rigid logical categories. What Nagarjuna and the Wisdom Sutras do not do is to accept both sides of the dichotomy and then attempt to transcend this acceptance. Perhaps Nishida's philosophy should be viewed from a larger perspective. Nishida's project suggests an existential solution whose articulation is made difficult by the tendency of all metaphysics, East and West, to abstract reality in terms of choices between sets of dichotomous formulations. We have already noted that Nagarjuna grappled with this very issue. A number of these dichotomies are relevant to our discussion of identity here. Matter, for example is often conceived of as either aggregates of 'atoms' or as a 'plenum', time as a 'series of moments' or an 'uninterrupted flow'. And events are either 'self caused' or 'externally caused'. The history of Eastern and Western philosophy is replete with philosophers taking a stand on either side of these dichotomies, trying to find a way of combining them, or trying to escape or transcend them. Kent's antinomies revolve around this very issue [83]. Because of Nishida's emphasis on a 'concrete logic' it becomes necessary to consider the problem of abstraction which gives rise to such dichotomies. The Problem of Abstraction Whitehead has pointed out that the variety of metaphysical systems arises out of the process of abstraction, which he defines as transcending "particular concrete occasions of actual happening" [84]. Abstractions, therefore, run the risk of emphasising certain aspects of reality at the expense of others and thus of provoking the "fallacy of misplaced concreteness" [85]. This is because: "No entity can be conceived in complete abstraction from the system of the universe" [86]; and "paradox only arises because we have mistaken our abstraction for concrete realities" [87]. Whitehead, of course, did not conclude from this that abstraction is a thing to be avoided at all cost. Quite to the contrary, it cannot be avoided, but great care must be taken that our abstractions are not "overstated" and "exaggerated" [88] and that we do not ignore vital aspects of the "actualities" [89] under our analysis. Nishida shows an awareness of this danger when he says: I call this seeing by becoming things and hearing by becoming things. What must be negated is the dogmatism of the [reified] self, conceived abstractly. What must be decisively repudiated is the attachment to the self conceived of objectively. The more the self becomes religious, the more it must forget itself while exhausting reason and emotion. But to imprison the self in any determinate form is the corruption of religion. Dogmas are like a knife that severs our life's root. [90] We must thus take into account the possibility that the true purpose of Nishida's logic of 'contradictory identity' is to transcend the limits of metaphysical abstraction by means of a language and logic of 'affirmation through absolute negation' (zettai no hitei no kotei) [91] which he derives partially from the Hegelian system (especially Hegel's dialectic of self and other), adjusting this to his own uses. This approach, however, ironically makes use of metaphysical categories that the earlier Buddhists and the later post-Hegelian modern Western philosophers such as Nietzsche, James and Derrida [92] have been working to avoid. There is the real possibility that, however well intended, Nishida's methodology, rather than solving the problems of abstraction and reification, leads instead to confusion by further abstraction and reification. This danger is compounded by epistemological problems implicit in Nishida's approach. How, for example, can we know that the self reflects the totality of the universe, in Nishida's "logic of the transcendental predicate", since we, as individuals, do not consciously experience the entire universe, or any of the metaphysical assumptions upon which such a theory is founded? Even if we grant that "our understanding is deeper than the system [of universals] allows us to account for" [93], it does not follow that we intuit the totality. Except for the case of the Chinese scholastic Hwayen school, the Buddhist theory of interrelatedness, pratitya-samutpada, makes no claims that it is possible to intuit the totality. Indeed, Nishida himself argues that the original intuition of the individual, by necessity, cannot be said, known, or defined [94]. In this case, it would seem fallacious to define the extent, or range, of an ineffable intuition, and to use such concepts to define the nature of the 'self'. Also, how can we describe temporal moments in monadic terms when we experience time as a continuum? How can we speak meaningfully about the 'contradictory identity' of the 'totality' and a 'monadic self' (even as a stage in a dialectical logic), when these are metaphysically abstracted from experience? We may be alternately denying and affirming chimeras of the imagination. However, Nishida might respond that his philosophy cannot be understood merely as an abstraction, rather, his philosophy is an attempt to express his own philosophical and religious experience by pointing the way. Let us examine his work in a phenomenological light, concentrating on what he calls 'enlightenment' (kensho), which he says means to "penetrate in to the depths of our 'selves', ... to penetrate to the depths of [the selfs] 'contradictory identity'" [95]. A Phenomenological Critique of Contradictory Identity Nishida uses language to point to the experience of the "conscious act" [96]. But, does the experience of consciousness really point to a "contradictory self'? Certainly we often tend to conceive the world in a dichotomous fashion: as self vs other, here vs there. We distinguish acting upon some thing from being acted upon by something. We view the temporal self sometimes as different through time, sometimes as being essentially identical [97]. We conceive ourselves sometimes as individuals, distinct from the world, and sometimes as part of the totality of the world. But these are not experienced as contradictions; these are, rather, a plurality of experiences. They only become contradictions when abstracted from experience, placed together as objects, and described as metaphysical dichotomies. Let us further examine the concepts of individuality and totality. We find the notion of totality expressed in the unity of the elements we associate with the self acting as a community, or as a whole. We are a totality of parts and yet we are individuals in relation to other individuals and to the community of interacting individuals that make up the world. But individuality and membership in a totality are not experienced as contradictions since self and totality may be more profitably conceived in terms of relative perspectives. A cell in the body, for example, is both a whole and a part. This is not a contradiction. The cell is a whole in the sense that it is a biological system or structure, and it is a part in that the body is a larger biological system composed of cells. The same thing can be said of the body in relation to the biosphere of the world. There are no arbitrary lines which absolutely separate self as whole and self as part. There can only be a contradiction if we confuse the perspectives, and insist that something is a whole and a part from the same perspective. For Nishida, however, each individual is fully and creatively individual and fully an expression of the universe. This logic is certainly contradictory, but in order to arrive at the contradiction we need to use the very kind of logic which Nishida rejects: 'object' logic. Certainly we might point to a causality arising from our selves as an individual system and to a causality arising from its interaction with our environment. These causal configurations interact, and sometimes might seem to be acting at cross purposes. But this does not constitute a contradiction or a paradox. We might argue that we are forming our selves and being formed by our environment, but there is again no contradiction involved here because these two causalities are not mutually exclusive. Nishida, on the other hand, cannot argue that the experience of 'contradictory identity' is a higher order consciousness because he insists that: When I speak of religion, I do not refer to a special kind of consciousness. [98] Indeed, no meditation master, whether Buddhist or Hindu has ever maintained that the experience of contradiction is part of meditation. It is precisely this kind of philosophical abstraction that meditation is meant to avoid. Quoting the Chan (Zen) Master, Nan-Ch'Ban (Jap. Nanzen), Nishida maintains that "ordinary mind is the way" [99]. Moreover: In every respect we penetrate to the depths of this 'ordinary mind' ... Therefore, Nan-ch'Ban has said that, "[Even] to aim for [the Way] is go astray". [100] This insistence on 'ordinary mind' invites the objection that 'absolute negation' does not correspond to any 'ordinary' experience. Quite to the contrary, it is an attempt through abstraction to project two different perspectives simultaneously. It is only through such effort that I conceive the two perspectives as being contradictory. But this conception does not arise out of a direct experience of self or of things. It requires a distinct effort to maintain such a conception, which immediately vanishes as soon as mental or physical action begins. The whole attempt is an artificial method of seeking the way, not of seeing the way as it is, or has become. Thus, in spite of Nishida's emphasis on the 'acting person' [101], the philosophy of 'ordinary mind' seems to lead in precisely the opposite direction from Nishida's logic of absolute contradiction, which requires us to abstract from experience a logical dichotomy and then to apply a transcendental logic in order to reunify the dichotomy into a unity. In this vein, Nishida also makes repeated appeal to the famous teaching of Dogen in his fascicle Shobogenzo Genjo Koan: To study the way of Buddha is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self. [102] "This", according to Nishida, represents "a point of view that is completely opposed to viewing things through object logic." [103] That Dogen's position includes a critique of what Nishida calls 'object logic' in the grand tradition of Nagarjuna is clear, but there is no hint that Dogen uses a transcendental logic of 'contradictory identity'. Instead, rather than simultaneously holding two opposing points of view, Dogen is using a 'progressive definition'; he is after a shift in our point of view: an ever deepening insight. Let us examine the passage from Dogen in more detail To study the Way of the Buddhas Is to study the self; To study the self Is to forget the self; To forget the self Is to witness the myriad dharmas; And to witness the myriad dharmas Is to drop off the body-mind Of both self and other. It is the ceasing Of all traces of enlightenment This vanished and traceless enlightenment Advances ever onward. [104] To study the true nature of the self, for Dogen, is to realise that the self is empty of all substantiality and atomic separateness, and in so doing directly to experience the world, or the "ten thousand dharmas". To experience the world means to 'drop off' (datsuraku), or to 'let go' the psychophysical personalities (shinjin) of both 'self' and 'other'. Here, Dogen abandons the dichotomy of self and other, rather than embrace it. It is precisely at this point where Nishida creates the 'contradiction' by accepting both 'self and 'other' [105]. To clarify this point, let us consider another passage from Dogen's Shobo-genzo Genjokoan: When all phenomena are [seen as] the Buddha Dharma. There is delusion and enlightenment; There is practice, life and death, Buddhas and sentient beings. When the myriad things are all [seen as] without self, There is neither delusion nor enlightenment. No buddhas, no sentient beings, No generation and no extinction. The Way of the buddhas Springs forth from abundance and privation [106]; Consequently, there is generation, As well as extinction, Delusion and enlightenment, Sentient beings and buddhas. Nevertheless, Flowers fall among attachments; And weeds flourish only amidst annoyance [107]. Although these verses at first seem to suggest a logic similar to Nishida's, close examination reveals otherwise. The movement of the text is perspectival, as indicated by the use of "When ... are [seen as] ..." The perspective of the Buddha Dharma, here a reference to the foundation Buddhist teachings such as the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Arising (pratitya-samutpada), is presented first, followed by the teaching of 'non-self or 'non-substantiality' (anatman) and 'emptiness' (sunyata) Some might argue that the first two stanzas are concerned with dialectical logic of 'being' and 'non-being', and that a contradiction is produced between the first and second stanzas, with the third stanza dialectically embracing both positions. But it is clearly a misunderstanding of Buddhist doctrines to insist that the Buddhist Dharma teaches a theory of absolute being and that the doctrine of 'no-self', also a Buddhist Dharma, teaches absolute non-being. It is for this very reason that we read in the Heart Sutra (Prajna-paramita-Hrdaya-Sutra), where an absolute distinction between 'form' (rupa) and 'emptiness' (sunyata) is denied: Here, O Sariputra, form is emptiness and emptiness is form; emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness; whatever is form, that is emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is form, the same is true of feelings, perceptions, dispositions and consciousness. [108] Nagarjuna made this same point by defining 'emptiness' in terms of 'dependent arising': We state that whatever is dependent arising, that is emptiness. That is dependent upon convention. That itself is the middle path. [109] Thus, Dogen, instead of accepting both absolute non-being, rejects this dichotomy, saying poetically that the Way of the Buddhas transcends these conceptions. Thus, in a concrete sense there is 'generation and extinction', 'delusion and enlightenment' and 'sentient being and buddhas'. But Dogen goes beyond mere affirmation; he moves to an existential description of the human condition: that of the experience of suffering in a transient world. Dogen, the master of the Dialectic of Nagarjuna, which he expressed in the traditional Zen 'koan' format, like Nagarjuna, was relentless in knocking down the stultified offspring of bi-conditional hypostasised logic. He did not accept both being and non-being; he transcended this abstraction by pointing directly at experience. I argue that Nishida's emphasis on a logic of 'contradictory identity', in spite of his intentions, functions as a complex system of abstractions which tend to defeat themselves. They cannot operate as a phenomenological description of ordinary experience, and they are not effective in pointing the way to any religious realisation--due to their overly abstract nature and their extreme complexity they tend to focus the attention of the reader away from experience. Furthermore, it cannot be argued that Nishida does not intend, on a basic level, a phenomenological description of experience and of the self, since the conception of 'place' (basho) would then be meaningless. Even though Nishida abandoned his emphasis on 'pure experience' (junsui keiken), his logic of the place of Nothingness (mu no basho) was meant to provide a less restrictive understanding of the nature of the self, and the selfs experience of the world in terms of both the effect of the world on the person and the person's creative effect on the world. Thus, we can only conclude that Nishida's emphasis on logical categories, at the expense of experience, has needlessly obscured his theory of place, or field, (basho), a concept which still shows great potential for deepening our understanding the nature of the creative person as part of the world. NOTES [1] For an English translation see DILWORTH, DAVID A. (trans.) Last Writings: Nothings and the Religious Worldview, by Nishida Kitaro: 'The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious Worldview' (Basho-teki Ronri to Shukyo-teki Sekaikan), (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1987). For the Japanese text see Nishida Kitaro Zenshu, Vol. II (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1965), pp. 371-464. This volume includes: 'Basho-teki Ronri To Shukyoteki Sekai-kan' (pp. 371-464) and 'Yotei Chowa o Tebiki to Shire Shukyo Tetsugaku e' (pp. 114-146). The latter has been translated by David A. Dilworth (1970) as 'Towards a Philosophy of Religion With the Concept of Preestablished Harmony As a Guide' in The Eastern Buddhist, Vol. III, no. 1, June 1970, pp. 19-46. [2] Taisho ronri might also be translated as 'oppositional logic'. 'Oppositional' stresses the 'either/or' quality of this logic. 'Object logic', on the other hand, stresses the object of consciousness as a thing or entity, as contrasted with the perceiver, or self. Both meanings are suggested by Nishida, but 'object logic' has the advantage of including the subject/object dichotomy which is a critical concept in Nishida's work. [3] See, for example NISHIDA, 'Basho-teki Ronri to Shukyo-teki Sekeikam' op. cit., pp. 55-56. [4] NISHIDA, op. cit., p. 51. Dilworth translates 'mujun-teki doitsu' as 'absolute contradictory identity'. Since the word 'absolute' does not occur in the original I have dropped it. Translating 'mujun' as 'contradictory' stresses the logical relationship of two members of a dichotomy. 'Mujun', could also be translated as 'paradox', since its use is not limited to strict logical contradiction. 'Paradox' is the more commonly understood meaning of 'mujun' and has the advantage of suggesting a logical puzzle. It ties in with the paradoxes of Heraclitus, Zeno, and of the Ch'an/Zen tradition's use of 'kung-ans' (koans) 'puzzles', though in the Ch'an tradition, these are, of course, not limited to logical analysis. I have used 'contradictory' because of Nishida's emphasis on the 'logic' of identity. [5] (A surprising development in light of his early work on 'pure experience' and his studies of William James. See, for example, NISHIDA, KITARO, Zen No Kenkyu (A Study of the Good). [6] For the Presocratic philosophers see, KIRK, G. S. & RAVEN, J. E. (Eds) The Presocratic Philosophers (London: Cambridge University Press, 1857). Also see WHEEL WRIGHT, PHILIP The Presocratics (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, Odyssey Press, 1960). For Heraclitus also see, PATRICK, G. T. W. (trans.) Heraclitus of Ephesus (includes Greek text of I. Bywater) (Chicago: Argonaut Publishers, 1969). [7] WHEELWRIGHT, op. cit., p. 71. C.f. Patrick: "Into the same river you could not step twice, for otherwaters are flowing" (p. 94). Also see KIRK & RAVEN, op. cit., pp. 196, 197. Other fragments with the same import include: "The sun is new every day" (Patrick, p. 92; Kirk & Raven, p. 202; Wheelwright, p. 72). "It disperses and gathers, it comes and goes" (Patrick, p. 93). [8] PATRICK, op. cit., p. 104. Also see WHEELWRIGHT, op. cit., p. 78. This idea is expressed even more paradoxically by Heraclitus's disciple and Plato's contemporary, Cratylus, to say that "You cannot step even once into the same river" (Aristotle, Metaphysics 1010a13, Kirk & Raven, p. 197). Seneca comments on this fragment: "And I, while I say these things are changed, am myself changed. This is what Heraclitus means when he says, into the same river we descend twice and do not descend, for the name of the river remains the same, but the water has flowed on" (Patrick, 'Notes on Frog. 81', p. 104). [9] PATRICK, op. cit., p. 104; WHEELWRIGHT, op. cit., p. 78. [10] WHEELWRIGHT, op. cit., p. 97. (Kirk & Raven, p. 273). [11] KIRK & RAVEN, op. cit., Frag. 2', p. 269. The passage reads as follows: "Come now, and I will tell ... the only ways of enquiry that can be thought of: the one way, that it is and cannot not-be, is the path of persuasion, for it attends upon the truth; the other, that it is not and needs must not be is a path altogether unthinkable. For thou couldst not know that which is-not (that is impossible) nor utter it; for the same thing exists for thinking and for being." [12] WHEELWRIGHT, op. cit., 'Frag. 7 (A)', p. 97; KIRK & RAVEN, op. cit., 'Frag. 8', p. 273. [13] WHEELWRIGHT, op. cit., 'Frag. 7', p. 97-98 (KIRK & RAVEN, op. cit., 'Frag. 8', p. 273). Wheelwright translates this passage as follows: "There remains, then, but one word by which to express the [true] road: Is. And on this road there are many signs that What Is has no beginning and never will be destroyed: it is whole, still, and without end. It neither was nor will be. It simply is--now, altogether, one, continuous ... How could what is be something of the future? How could it come-to-be? For if it were coming-to-be, or if it were going to be in the future, in either case there would be a time when it is not. Thus coming-to-be is quenched, and [by similar reasoning] destruction is unthinkable." [14] Ibid. Parmenides thus paves the way for this disciple Zeno to argue that a so-called moving arrow cannot be moving in actuality because it either is or is moving where it is or where it is not. If it is moving where it is, it cannot be where it is. And the arrow, of course, cannot be moving where it is not. Hence the arrow cannot be in motion (Wheelwright, p. 108). [15] Aristotle argued that without some kind of unchanging Being, "Nothing would be eternal or immovable, which would result in the impossibility of becoming for there must be something which undergoes this process and which is ungenerated. Thus, there must, in some sense, be underlying matter and also something besides the composite thing: namely, its shape [morphe] or form [eidos]." (Aristotle, Metaphysics, III(4), pp. 999b1-16.) Translation from Richard Hope, Aristotle: Metaphysics (Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor Paperbacks, the University of Michigan Press, 1962 [1952]), p. 50. Also see Richard McKeon, The Basic Works of Aristotle (New York: Random House, 1941), p. 725. [16] Ibid., pp. 999a25-30. Hope, p. 51; McKeon, 725. [17] ARISTOTLE, Metaphysics, VII(7), pp. 1032b1-15; VII:8, pp. 1033a28-1033b9; VII:8, pp. 1033625-30. Hope, p. 143, 145, 146; McKeon, p. 792, 793, 795. [18] ARISTOTLE, Metaphysics, IV(5), pp. 1010a16-23. Trans. from Hope, p. 79. Cf McKeon, p. 746. [19] Cf Nishida: "Aristotle conceived of the individual thing as something which is subject that cannot become a predicate", Fundamental Problems, pp. 3-4. [20] ARISTOTLE, Metaphysics, VII(3), pp. 1028b-1029a39. Hope, 132-134. McKeon, 784-786. Also, "Substance, in the truest and primary and most definite sense of the word, is that which is neither predicable of a subject nor present in a subject." (Aristotle, Categories, If(5), 2a 11-13; McKeon, The Basic Works, p. 9). [21] ARISTOTLE, Posterior Analytics, Bk II(19), pp. 100a16-100b3. McKeon, The Basic Works, p. 185. [22] ARISTOTLE, Metaphysics, VII(10), pp. 1036a8-12. Hope, p. 152. McKeon, p. 799. [23] CARTER, ROBERT, The Nothingness Beyond God: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Nishida Kitaro (New York: Paragon House, 1989), p. 26. [24] Nishida says in his Fundamental Problems of Philosophy (Tetsugaku no Konpon Mondai), "The fact that the world is changing means that the 'that in which' is changing, and vice versa." Fundamental Problems of Philosophy: The World of Action and the Dialectical World, trans. David A. Dilworth (Tokyo: a Monumenta Nipponica monograph, Sophia University, 1970), p. 6. See Nishida Kitaro Zenshu (The Complete Works of Nishida Kitaro), Second Edition, 19 vols., Vol. VII, Tetsugaku no Konpon Mondai (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1965). [25] NISHIDA, Fundamental Problems, p. 6. [26] ARISTOTLE, Metaphysics, I(9), pp. 991a8-15. Trans. from Hope, p. 29. Cf McKeon, p. 707. [27] NISHIDA, Fundamental Problems, pp. 3-4. [28] See Nishida, Fundamental Problems, p. 4. [29] NISHIDA, Fundamental Problems, pp. 3-4. [30] Ibid., p. 9. [31] Ibid., p. 6. [32] Ibid., p. 5. Cf Heraclitus: "It is one and the same thing to be living and dead, awake or asleep, young or old. The former aspect in each case becomes the latter, and the latter becomes the former, by sudden unexpected reversal." (Wheelwright, Frag. 88, p. 48). Cf Patrick, Frag. 78, p. 103: "... for these several states are transmutations of each other". [33] WHEELWRIGHT, op. cit., p. 69; KIRK & RAVEN, op. cit., p. 188. Logos is said to be universal and eternal (Wheelwright, p. 69; Patrick, p. 84), and the underlying coherence of things (Kirk & Raven, p. 187). Things can be described only according to their generic nature and how they fit in with the order of nature (Patrick, p. 84; Wheelwright, p. 69; Kirk & Raven, p. 187). [34] WHEELWRIGHT, op. cit., p. 71; PATRICK, op. cit., p. 88-89; KIRK & RAVEN, op. cit., p. 199. [35] "Soul is the vapourization out of which everything else is composed; moreover it is the least corporeal of things and is in ceaseless flux, for the moving world can only be known by what is in motion." (Wheelwright, p. 72). [36] In the modern period, David Hume has highlighted the difficulties associated with the application of the conception of 'sameness' to bodies over time. Hume argues that the mind, when looking at a succession of qualities, is carried from one part of it to another by an "easy transition, and will no more perceive the change, than if it contemplated the same unchangeable object." But, when we view an object "after a considerable change the progress of the thought is broke; and consequently we are presented with the idea of diversity." Therefore, "In order to reconcile which contradictions the imagination is apt to feign something unknown and invisible, which it supposes to continue the same under all these variations; and this unintelligible something it calls a substance, or original and first matter." (David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, L.A. Selby-Bigge (ed.) (Oxford: Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1888, 1975, p. 220.) Italics in original text. [37] WHEELWRIGHT, PHILIP, Heraclitus (New York: Atheneum, 1964), pp. 91-92. (My italics) Wheelwright: "Does it [flux] not protect against an Aristotelian reification of some unchanging substance, a fixed 'something I know not what' to which predicates are attached?" (ibid.). [38] Ibid., p. 89. [39] "It is wise for those who hear, not me, but the universal Reason [logos], to confess that all things are one." Patrick, 'Frag. 1', p. 84. Cf Kirk & Raven, Frag. 50', p. 188. [40] KIRK & RAVEN, 'Frag. 10', p. 191. Cf Patrick, 'Frag. 59', p. 99. (My italics). [41] This reminds us of Whitehead's "creative advance into novelty", where "process" is the "concrescence" of the whole into a particular, which in turn contributes to the successive "concrescence" of the whole into a new particular. (Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, the corrected edition (New York: The Free Press, Macmillan Publishing, 1978). See p. 67 f.) [42] PATRICK, 'Frag. 61', p. 98. Cf KIRK & RAVEN, 'Frag. 51', p. 193 (My italics). [43] PATRICK, 'Frag. 36', p. 93, Cf KIRK & RAVEN, 'Frag. 67', p. 191; WHEELWRIGHT, 'Frag. 67', p. 79 (My italics). [44] Plato, Parmenides, 166B. Trans. F. M. Cornford in: EDITH HAMILTON and HUNTINGTON CAIRNS (Eds) Plato: Collected Dialogues, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), p. 956. Quoted by David Dilworth in 'Postscript: Nishida's Logic of the East' in: Last Writings: Nothingness not the Religious Worldview, p. 131. [45] "Each act is rather an originating vector of the absolute present which enfolds the eternal past and the eternal future within itself.", Nishida, Last Writings, p. 53. [46] DILWORTH, 'Introduction: Nishida's Critique of Religious Consciousness', in: Last Writings, p. 2. Dilworth points out that these last works include 'Toward a Philosophy of Religion By Way of the Concept of Preestablished Harmony' (1944). ['Yotei Chowa o Tebiki to Shire Shukyo Tetsugaku e'] and 'The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious World View' ['Basho-teki Ronri to Shukyo-teki Sekai-kan'] (1945). Ibid., Note 4, p. 40. [47] An example of the Buddha's emphasis on personal verification is found in the Majjhima-Nikaya (M.I.92-93); MLS.II.121-122). There the Buddha criticises the Jaina ascetics for practicing self-mortification in the belief that this self-induced suffering would exhaust the effect of past sins without personally verifying the truth of this claim. [48] See, for example, the Samyutta-Nikaya (S.III.22 and S.III.67). For English translation see The Book of Kindred Sayings, (KS), trans. by F. L. Woodward (Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul for the Pali Text Society, 1975), Vol. 3, p. 22, 59. [49] See, for example Samyutta-Nikaya III.61f; KS, Vol. 3, p. 54f, for a definition of each of the aggregates. [50] Translated by David J. Kalupahana, Nagarjuna: the Philosophy of the Middle Way (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986), p. 10. [51] Sarhyutta-Nikaya, 11.17. Translation adapted from Kalupahana, ibid., pp. 10-11. [52] There is a significant difference between the Buddhists and Parmenides on the notion of 'non-being'. For Parmenides, 'non-being' was absolute nothingness, which is totally unthinkable. For the Buddhists, 'non-being', termed 'annihilationism', was closer to a denial of continuity and by implication causality. See for example the 'Kassapa-Suits' (S.II.14-17). Also see Nagarjuna in his Mulamadhyamaka-Karika: "Exists' (asti) implies grasping after eternalism. 'Does not exist' (nasti) implies the philosophy of annihilation. Therefore, a discerning person should not rely upon either existence or non-existence", Nagarjuna, Mulamadhyamaka-Karika, 15.10. Translation adapted from Kalupahana, Nagarjuna, the Philosophy of the Middle Way, p. 234. [53] See, for example, the Buddha's simile of the chariot in the Samyutta-Nikaya (S.I.135): [Sister Vajira replies to Mara]: "Why do you harp on [the word] 'being'? You have strayed, Mara, into (confused) views. A mere bundle of compounded aggregates: There is no 'being' to be found here. For just as when the parts are [rightly] arranged, We [use] the word 'chariot', So, when the aggregates are there. We [use] the convention, 'being' It is thus that suffering arises, And thus, that it continues and stops. Suffering does not arise otherwise, Nor does otherwise it stop." Translation by Mrs Rhys-Davids in Kindred Sayings, Vol. I, (London: Pali Text Society), pp. 169-170 (My italics). [54] Translation adapted Kalupahana, op. cit., p. 232. [55] Translation Kalupahana, op. cit., p. 234. [56] See my discussion of the 'Kaccayanagotta-Sutta' above. [57] MK 18(6), Trans. Kalupahana, Nagarjuna, p. 267 (My italics). [58] NISHIDA, Last Writings, p. 81. [59] "Pratitya yad yad bhavati ..." Sankrit text from Kalupahana, op. cit., p. 273. Notice the reference to the important teaching of 'Dependent Arising' [pratitya-samutpada]. [60] Translation adapted frm Kalupahana, op. cit., p. 273. [61] NISHIDA KITARO, 'Basho-teki Ronri to Shukyo-teki Seken-kan', ('The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious Worldview'). For English translation see Dilworth. For Japanese text see Nishida Kitaro Zenshu, Vol II. [62] The passage in context reads; "In the depths of our selves there is nothing to be found; everywhere is 'nothingness'; instead we find absolute 'unity', by transcending everything related to the self." (Nishida, Logic of the Place of Nothingness, my translation. Also see Dilworth, Last Writings, op. cit., p. 110. For Japanese text see zenshu, V. II, 431.) The notion of transcending the self and finding 'absolute unity', is Nishida's own interpretation of Mahayana Philosophy in the light of his own philosophical project. [63] "The fact that the world is changing means that the 'that in which' is changing, and vice versa. To think of change in this way implies a structure which is a continuity of discontinuity. The world of change is a world of coming into being and passing away." Nishida, Fundamental Problems, op. cit, p. 6 (My italics). Carter explains that Nishida's paradoxical way of speaking about the self, which lives by dying, is a continuity of a discontinuity (Carter, The Nothingness Beyond God, op. cit., p. 24. Cf Nishida, Fundamental Problems, op, cit., p. 7.) [64] Translation modified from Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 96. For Japanese text see Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 431. [65] Logic of the Place of Nothingness, my translation. Also see Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 52. For Japanese text see Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 377. [66] Translation modified from Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 53. For Japanese text see Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 378. [67] Especially see the following passages of Leibniz in the Monadology: "... Each simple substance has relations which express all the others, and, consequently, that it is a perpetual living mirror of the universe." (56) "... It is as if there were so many different universes, which, nevertheless are nothing but aspects [perspectives] of a single universe according to the special point of view of each Monad." [57] "Thus, although each created Monad represents the whole universe, it represents more distinctly the body which specially pertains to it, and of which it is the entelechy; and this body expresses the whole universe through the connexion of all matter in the plenum ..." (62) (Leibniz, The Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings, trans. Robert Latta (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 248, 253.) [68] Logic of the Place of Nothingness, my translation. Also see Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 64. Japanese text, Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 391. [69] See Dilworth, Last Writings, 'Introduction', p. 3. [70] The passage reads: "From the created to the creating, [the self] is a conscious, active being, molding itself as the self-formation of the historical world through 'contradictory self identity' ", (Logic of the Place of Nothingness, my translation.) Also see Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 64. For Japanese text see Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 391. [71] Translation revised from Dilworth, Last Writings, pp. 110-111. For Japanese text see Zenshu, Vol. II, 449. [72] Trans. Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 110. [73] Trans. Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 81: "The self does not exist merely be negating the universal, the rational either". [74] This passage in more detail reads: "In this way, the determination of the self by the self through self-expression as a focal point ]isshoten] of the world does not mean [that the self is determined] through necessity according to 'object logic'. Rather we say that it [the self] becomes a focus of the absolute present which includes [within itself] the eternal past and the eternal future. This, we say, is because the self is momentary self-determination in the absolute present." The Logic of the Place of Nothingness, my translation and italics. For Japanese text see Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 379. Cf Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 53. [75] Dilworth, Ibid., pp. 53-54. [76] Whitehead, Process, op. cit., p. 21. [77] "Every body feels the effect of all that takes place in the universe, so that he who sees all might read in each what is happening everywhere, and even what has happened or shall happen, observing in the present that which is far off as well in time as in place." (Leibniz, Monadology, op. cit., No. 61, p. 251.) [78] See Note 71. [79] See Note 74. [80] Trans. Dilworth, Last Writings, op. cit., p. 49. The text in context reads: 'When we say that [the self] is active we think of an interactive relationship of one entity with another. And what is the nature of this relationship? In the activity [of the self] there is first of all the negation of one [entity] by another and the negation of the other by the first. This relationship of mutual negation must also be one of mutual affirmation." Translation modified from Dilworth, p. 49. Japanese text, Zenshu, Vol. II. p. 374. [81] The Logic of the Place of Nothingness, my translation. Also see Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 53. Japanese text, Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 379. [82] Logic of the Place of Nothingness, my translation. Also see Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 83. Japanese text: Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 416. See J-12 in Appendix. I have translated 'heiki' as 'dialectical moment' rather than as 'abstract moment' (Dilworth). The Tetsugaku Jisen notes that 'keiki' is a translation of the German and English 'moment' or 'occasion' of the dialectical movement from thesis to antithesis. The 'moment' is the precondition for the movement of the dialectical process. (Tetsugaku Jiten (Philosophical Dictionary). (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1971), p. 390). [83] Subsequently, the early Whitehead advocated a plenum of space and time, but later moved towards a monadic model. But in this move he tried to avoid the pitfalls of atomism, or what he calls the "fallacy of simple location", with his theory of "concrescence", which (as we noted in Note 76) is defined as the process by which "the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively." (Whitehead, Process, op. cit., p. 21). There we also noted the similarity with Leibniz's model (Monodology, no. 61, p. 251). [84] WHITEHEAD, ALFRED NORTH, Science And the Modern World (New York: The Free Press, Macmillan Publishing, 1967), p. 159. [85] See, for example, Whitehead, Science, op. cit., p. 51, where he defines "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness" as "the accidental error of misplacing the abstract for the concrete". [86] Whitehead, Process, op. cit., p. 3. [87] Whitehead, Science And the Modern World, op. cit., p. 55 (My italics). [88] Whitehead, Process, op. cit., p. 7. [89] Ibid., p. 8. [90] Translation modified from Dilworth, Last Writings, op. cit., p. 90 (My italics). Japanese text, Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 424. [91] Cf Dilworth, p. 83; Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 415. [92] Derrida describes his own project as "the subversive dislocation of identity in general". Dissemination, trans. Barbara Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 86. Quoted by Dilworth in Last Writings, 'Postscript', p. 139. [93] Carter, op. cit., p. 33. [94] Ibid., p. 3. [95] Translation revised from Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 108. [96] Nishida has lain particular stress on experience throughout his writings since his early studies of James. See, for example, Zen no Kenkyu (A Study of the Good), especially Chapter 1, 'Junsui Keiken' ('Pure Experience'), in Nishida Kitaro Zenshu, Vol. I (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1952), p. 9ff. Although, in his later writing he focuses on the logic of place (basho), his conception of transcendental 'predicate logic' is unintelligible without the experience of intuition at some level. [97] Consider the popular saying, 'He was never himself after the accident'. Or conversely, 'You can never teach an old dog new tricks'. [98] NISHIDA, The Logic of Place, op. cit., trans. Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 115. For Japanese text, see Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 454. [99] NISHIDA, The Logic of Place, trans. Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 90. For Japanese text see Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 424. [100] NISHIDA, The Logic of Place, my translation. Also see Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 115. Japanese text, Zenshu, Vol. II, p. 454 In other words, to aim at the way, as though it were some kind of reality not already present, as though there were some kind of reality other than the here and now, is to go astray. [101] "The true individual can be regarded as the ultimate determination of the universal, but at the same time, it determines the universal. The true individual must be an acting individual. If the individual is merely the ultimate determination of the universal, we could never attain to the concept of a true individual." NISHIDA, Fundamental Problems, trans. Dilworth, p. 4. [102] Dogen, Shobogenzo Genjokoan Japanese text from Nishida Zenshu, Vol. I, p. 411, my translation. For full English translation, see, for example, WADDELL, NORMAN and MASAO, ABE (1972), 'Shobogenzo Genjokoan', The Eastern Buddhist, Vol. V, No. 2, p. 58. [103] NISHIDA, The Logic of Place, Translated slightly revised from Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 80. [104] Gogen Zenji Zenshu, I pp. 7-8. My translation, except for first two lines slightly revised from Dilworth, Last Writings, p. 80. [105] (Since, otherwise there can be no contradiction.) [106] This phrase has been variously interpreted as 'hoken yori choshutsu', ('beyond dualistic views such as more or less,") trans. Yuho Yokoi The Shobogenzo (Tokyo: Sankibo Buddhist Boostore, 1986). p. 1; 'transcends fullness and deficiency', trans. Francis H. Cook Sounds of Valley Streams: Sounds of Enlightenment in Dogen's Zen (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989), p. 65; and 'sprang forth from abundance and paucity; trans. Thomas Cleary Shobogenzo (Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1986), p. 32. The notions of 'going beyond' and of 'springing forth' are both possible readings here. Dogen may have both meanings in mind. I use 'spring forth', with Cleary, because this interpretation ties in with the following lines. This verse appears in the Hung-chich Kuang-lu [Wanshi Koroku], No. 2. Abundance is a simile for 'existence' and corresponds to the first verses saying 'there is' [ari], and privation is a simile for 'non-existence', misunderstood as 'emptiness' [naku], p. 31n. [107] Dogen Zenji Zenshu, I, p. 7, my translation. Cf Waddell and Abe's translation (1972), in: Eastern Buddhist, Vol. 5, No. 2, p. 129f; Thomas Cleary, Shobogenzo, p. 32f; and Francis H. Cook, Sounds, p. 65f. The Japanese in the verse is [perhaps purposefully] ambiguous. It might be translated as: 1) 'Flowers fall among regrets'; or 'Flowers fall in spite of regrets'; or 'Flowers fall because of regrets'. The simile of the flowers and weeds appears in Dogen's Eihei Koroku with the more specific connecting phrase, 'ni yorite' (because of ...). The passage reads as follows: "Flowers fall because of our regrets; weeds come to life following upon our annoyance and attempts to get rid of them." [Dogen, Eihei Koroku, "Daiichi Koshoji Goroku no 51"]. [108] Heart Sutra, translation slightly modified from Edward Conze, Buddhist Wisdom Books (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1980), p. 81 [109] Nagarjuna, Mulamadhyamaka-Karika, 24(18) trans, David Kalupahana, Nagarjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way, p. 339 (My italics). ~~~~~~~~ By DAVID PUTNEY Dr David Putney, Department of Philosophy, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0083, USA. -------------------