RE: MD New Level of Thinking

From: Scott Roberts (
Date: Sun Dec 05 2004 - 16:31:50 GMT

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    > The Oxford Companion to Philosophy says:
    > NISHIDA KITARO (1870-1945) Foremost Japanese philosopher of the 20th
    > and founding father of the Kyoto School, Nishida is best known for his
    > path-breaking work of 1911, AN INQUIRY INTO THE GOOD. With this book he
    > began to articulate a system of thought based on the Zen Buddhist
    > in terms borrowed from French, German and Anglo-American philosophy,
    > psychology, and natural science. Drawing on William James and Henry
    > Nishida developed a philosophy based on 'pure experience' as that which
    > underlies the subject-object relation. A thinker of great erudition and
    > learning, he developed and refined his system over several decades to
    > encompass the social and historical worlds as well as the world of
    > Central to Nishida's thinking are the ideas of the 'topos of nothingness'
    > and of the world as the 'self-identity of absolute contradictories'."
    > "Pure experience that underlies the subject-object relation" How much more
    > Pirsigian does it have to be? It seems like you have to be clobbered over
    > the head before you'll notice that this stuff only supports and
    > the MOQ, and then you still don't see it. I really don't know what else to
    > do except put it in front of your eyes and hope for the best. Bonehead.

    There is an early Nishida and a later one. The early Nishida, as described
    above, was much like Pirsig. But he kept developing, and he replaced talk
    of "pure experience that underlies the subject-object relation" with talk
    of subject and object existing in contradictory identity. The following is
    from his last essay, written in 1945, called "Nothingness and the Religious

    "Subject and predicate, object and mental act, are related in a structure
    of contradictory identity; and being can be conceived through the
    contradictory directions of these parameters. But I repeat that true
    reality, which exists and moves in and through itself, is to be found,
    one-sidedly, in neither direction. True reality is historical reality, and
    it consists in the dynamically contradictory identity of these parameters.
    Therefore, the being of the self is not merely theoretically
    transcendental. As a self-determination of the self-transforming historical
    world, it consists in the contradictory identity of object and subject in
    the transformation from the created to the creating. It exists by having an
    active, volitional character."

    Pirsig, like the early Nishida, says that subject and object are
    intellectual constructs that cover up pure experience. The later Nishida
    says that our existence consists in the contradictory identity of object
    and subject. Surely you can see a profound difference there. There is
    overlap, in that the "transformation from the created to the creating",
    sounds a lot like SQ and DQ, but Nishida places this within the self, while
    Pirsig places the creating outside the self.

    Nishida does not disavow his earlier work, but found it inadequate. The
    above is a good deal more adequate as a characterization of the self than
    Pirsig's (inorganic, biological, social, and intellectual SQ capable of
    responding to DQ). In Pirsig, DQ is treated as a force from outside of
    ourselves to which we are to respond, and to which we are to transcend.
    Robert Magliola would call this centric mysticism. The later Nishida is a
    differential mystic. He has advanced, while Pirsig is still, in this
    respect, at the early Nishida stage. This does not mean that Pirsig is "all
    wrong". It just means that the MOQ as it is now is inadequate as a basis
    for a discussion of the self.

    If you want to bolster your case, show me something from the MOQ that
    sounds like 'self-identity of absolute contradictories', in particular as
    a characterization of the self.

    - Scott

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