Nihilism and emptiness: Nishitani's encounter with Nietzsche

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Flavel, Sarah J.
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University College Cork
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In this thesis, I examine the relationship between the Kyoto School philosopher, Nishitani Keiji, and the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, focusing on the two thinkers’ respective approaches to the problem of nihilism. The work begins by positioning Nishitani’s interpretation of Nietzsche’s account of nihilism with reference to diverse readings of Nietzsche in Western scholarship. I then consider the development of Nishitani’s reading of Nietzsche from his lecture series on nihilism, The Self- Overcoming of Nihilism, through to his magnum opus, Religion and Nothingness. I make two key contributions to recent scholarly debate on Nishitani’s relationship to Nietzsche. The first is to emphasise the importance of Nishitani’s response to the idea of eternal recurrence for understanding his critical approach to Nietzsche’s thinking. I argue against the view, offered by Bret Davis, that Nishitani’s criticisms of Nietzsche are primarily based on the former’s negative assessment of the idea of will to power. The second contribution is to situate Nishitani’s critical approach to eternal recurrence within his broader attempt to formulate a Zen-influenced conception of temporality and historicity. I then argue for the necessity of this conceptual background for coming to grips with his conception of the ‘transhistorical’ grounds of historicity in emptiness (śūnyatā), as outlined in the later chapters of Religion and Nothingness.
Kyoto School , Nietzsche Nishitani , Nishitani Keiji , Nietzsche nihilism , Nishitani emptiness , Comparative philosophy , Japanese philosophy , Nishitani nihilism
Flavel, S. J. 2015. Nihilism and emptiness: Nishitani's encounter with Nietzsche. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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