, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 505-507
Date: 21 May 2011

Review of Robert Wilkinson, Nishida and Western Philosophy

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In Nishida and Western Philosophy, Robert Wilkinson presents a well-reasoned and clearly articulated account of the philosophy of Nishida Kitarō, framed by the interrelated premises that (1) Zen and Western philosophy are incommensurable, and (2) Nishida’s life’s work is geared toward building a philosophical account of the Zen satori experience. Many Nishida scholars may disagree with elements in this interpretative framework, but both specialists and beginning students alike will find much that is informative, engaging, and insightful in Wilkinson’s concise mapping of Nishida’s position relative to the numerous Western thinkers that influenced Nishida over the course of his career.

Wilkinson sets up his interpretative framework with a provocative assertion about the impossibility of reconciling the ‘Zen point of view’ with Western philosophy: ‘In my view, regarded in its philosophical dimensions, it [Zen] is simply incommensurable with the mainstream of Western thought’ (7). This clai ...