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Heidegger and Nishida’s Transformations of Transcendental Reflection

Part of the Tetsugaku Companions to Japanese Philosophy book series (TCJP,volume 3)

Abstract

Differences aside, for both Kant and Husserl, transcendental reflection involved abstracting from our straightforward engagement with the world and thematizing the conditions of possibility for our knowledge and experience of the world. But if transcendental inquiry is characterized by such theoretical abstraction, it carries the risk of losing touch with our straightforward practical engagements with the world. In this essay, I focus on two philosophers, both influenced by Kant and Husserl, who confronted this problematic and proposed alternative ways of understanding philosophical reflection: Martin Heidegger and Nishida Kitarō. After first outlining Kant and Husserl’s respective accounts of transcendental reflection, I turn to Heidegger’s hermeneutic method employed in Being and Time (1927) and Nishida’s chorological method (I adopt John Krummel’s rendering of “basho” as “chōra”) developed around the time of his essay, “Basho” (1926). The aim of this essay is to show how Heidegger and Nishida’s views of philosophical reflection can be understood as transformations of transcendental reflection as traditionally understood, rather than simply as alternatives.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A prominent work that contributed greatly to this recognition is a collection of essays co-edited by Crowell and Malpas (2007).

  2. 2.

    I have provided an account of this in my Ph.D. dissertation, Transcendental Philosophy and its Transformations: Heidegger and Nishida’s critical engagements with transcendental philosophy in the later 1920s (2016). This paper is based on parts of this dissertation.

  3. 3.

    I follow the standard practice of referring to the pages of the Academy Edition. These are given in both the English and the German versions on which I draw.

  4. 4.

    E.g. Schnädelbach (1977) and Mohanty (1985).

  5. 5.

    For citations from works by Husserl and Heidegger, I have given the pagination from the original German first followed by a slash and pagination from the English translation, wherever available.

  6. 6.

    I have given the pagination from the original German first followed by a slash and pagination from the English translation.

  7. 7.

    Crowell (2001) also points out that formal indication is a kind of reflective method: the “method of formal indication does ‘repeat’ the self-interpretation of life, but it differs from a mere going-along-with lived life because it is an explicitly cognitive-illuminative self-recollection (reflection) and is oriented toward evident (intuitive) self-having” (127).

  8. 8.

    The page number is from the online version of the article accessible from his personal website.

  9. 9.

    Cf. SZ: 85/117–118. Lafont further argues that Heidegger’s notion of the a priori as “always already” means, at most, that it is unquestionable from within by those who share the historically contingent projection. See also: (Lafont 2005: 265–284).

  10. 10.

    All translations from Japanese sources are mine. All works by Nishida are cited from the Nishida Kitarō Zenshū [Complete Works of Nishida Kitarō] (abbreviated as “NKZ”). The abbreviation is followed by volume and page number.

  11. 11.

    In my article from 2011, “Later Nishida on Self-awareness: Have I lost myself yet?” I presented Nishida’s later account of jikaku in contrast to the phenomenological and higher-order accounts of self-awareness. There, I argued that Nishida ultimately challenges the phenomenological analysis (most famously offered by Sartre) that consciousness is necessarily positionally aware of an object and non-positionally (pre-reflectively) aware of itself. According to Nishida, in pure experience, one is merely intransitively conscious and not positionally aware of anything. In other words, “there is a mode of experience devoid of any sense of differentiation, even of a minimal sort” (206). One of the aims of the article was to show that Nishida’s philosophy has much to offer to contemporary debates on self-awareness, both in the phenomenological and analytic traditions.

  12. 12.

    Nishida raises this example in his early writing, “Fragmentary Notes on Pure Experience” published posthumously. Though the exact years in which these notes were written are unknown, they were supposedly written around the time of the An Inquiry into the Good (1911). Cf. NKZ XVI: 267–572. See also the afterword written by Yamauchi Tokuryū (673–674).

  13. 13.

    Since it is somewhat inevitable that we employ the language of the subject-object framework in describing experience that is beyond it, I put quotation marks around the subject (I, we, me, us, etc.) and object (flower, reality, etc.) when I am speaking about experience at the level of absolute nothingness.

  14. 14.

    Ueda specifically describes such “kaku” as the awakening to one’s true mode of being in the clearing (1991: 372).

  15. 15.

    Ekōhenshō” (回光返照) is a phrase that appears in the Zen Buddhist text, The Record of Linji (Rinzairoku). The meaning of the phrase is: turning the light in upon myself. Sasaki (2009) explains that “[t]he phrase may be said to describe the essence of Buddhist meditation – to take the mind, ordinarily occupied entirely with discursive thought and external phenomena, and direct it inward toward the source of the mind’s activities” (266).

  16. 16.

    The original reads:「自覚とは […]「自己の居る場所」(自己が置かれている場所)に開かれて(開かれるこの出来事が覚)、その場所に照らされて(その開けが光になって)自己が見られることです。」.

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Ishihara, Y. (2019). Heidegger and Nishida’s Transformations of Transcendental Reflection. In: TAGUCHI, S., ALTOBRANDO, A. (eds) Tetsugaku Companion to Phenomenology and Japanese Philosophy. Tetsugaku Companions to Japanese Philosophy, vol 3. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-21942-0_6

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