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Keiji Nishitani’s life and work
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Keiji Nishitani
Keiji  Nishitani
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Biography of Keiji Nishitani

Professor Keiji Nishitani (1900-1990) was widely regarded as the most significant philosopher of contemporary Japan and the most authoritative representative of the Kyoto School of thought. He was an author, editor, and educator who moved from philosophical writings to more Buddhist themes in later life. Nishitani graduated from Kyoto University in 1924, where he was later appointed assistant professor. From 1943 he held the Chair of Philosophy until he reached emeritus status in 1964. Thereafter he taught philosophy and religion at Otani University. He was one of Kitaro Nishida’s most brilliant students and also studied under Tanabe Hajime. Of the many books he published, his best known outside Japan has probably been Religion and Nothingness (1956).

Starting from Nishida’s philosophy, Nishitani studied Plato, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, and the Western mystics, especially Plotinus, Eckhart, and Jakob Böhme. His refusal to separate philosophy as an intellectual endeavor from religion as an attitude to life made him characteristic for the Kyoto School, and an heir to Nishida’s thought. He was particularly preoccupied with the phenomenon of nihilism as the inevitable direction Western culture has taken after the loss of its absolute center, namely, God, and hence was particularly interested in the philosophies of Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. The conquest of nihilism by the adoption of the Buddhist viewpoint of sunyata (“emptiness,” “absolute nothingness”) as reinterpreted by Nishitani may prove to be his most challenging and epoch-making contribution to Western thought. The difficulty of translation has delayed his becoming sufficiently known in the West.

Professor Nishitani contributed to numberless symposia on philosophical and religious subjects in Japan. As president of The Eastern Buddhist Society, editor of its journal The Eastern Buddhist, and president of the Institute of Japan Studies, he was particularly active in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. He held visiting professorships in the United States and Europe and was honored with the prestigious Goethe Prize.

Keiji Nishitani's essays “The Awakening of Self in Buddhism,” “The I-Thou Relation in Zen Buddhism,” and “Science and Zen” are featured in The Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School and Its Contemporaries (World Wisdom, 2004).

Books/DVDs containing the work of Keiji Nishitani

Professor Keiji Nishitani's contributions to World Wisdom books:

Keiji Nishitani’s Writings Online
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2SubjectWW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
The I-Thou Relation in Zen BuddhismThe Buddha Eye (2004)Nishitani, Keiji Buddhism, Eastern Religion, Metaphysics
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