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The two texts complement one another as records of a shift of emphasis in the author's thought. In the earlier book the primary themes stem from European philosophy, with Zen and Buddhist ideas constituting a background that is so unob trusive as to be easily overlooked. In Religion and Nothingness the priorities a re reversed. There the dominant ethos is of Zen, and the Western philosophical ideas constitute occasional connective ele ments and points of reference.

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If the sentiment of nihilism was a sufficiently powerful, if largely subliminal, presence in the Japan of for Nishitani to have devoted a long series of talks to the topic, it is all the more so today as a result of the recent burgeoning of material prosperity in that country.

It seemed fitting to be in Japan while preparing the first draft of the translation, since so many things about the world beyond the work-room confirmed the suspicion that Nishitani's ideas in this book have become even more vital ly relevant to the present situation than they were when first proposed. Nor is this to suggest that the problem of nihilism has been faced, far less over come, in the "postmodern " West-as evidenced in the way it has resurfaced in the mainstream of contemporary thinking on this side of the Pacific. A remarkable feature of the current resurgence of interest in Nietzsche is the number of studies devoted to his con frontation with nihilism, and in particular to the political and peda gogical implications of this confrontation?

In the final stages of preparing the manuscript for publication in the Nanzan Studies in Religion and Culture, the general editor of the series, James Heisig, and I paid a visit to Professor Nishitani's home in Kyoto to give a brief account of the state of the project.

Self-Overcoming of Nihilism, The by Keiji Nishitani | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & NobleĀ®

We sat for several hours, late into the night, in his small book-filled study, with the sounds of the early summer rain falling in the small gar den just outside the opened sliding doors providing the perfect background to the conversation. Much of our talk circled, appropriately enough, around noth ing. In speaking of the Zen conception of the self, Nishitani quoted his favorite saying of Saint Paul: "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. It is evidently not the "I" or the "me"; nor does it appear to be Christ either.

Who, then, is it? Always in this room, it seems, there is a single rose in a bamboo vase that stands on a shelf above the table. A piece of tape covering a crack in the bamboo contributes somehow to the "rightness" of the ensemble.

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Looking over at the rose, Nishitani asked in quiet puzzlement, "Where is the flower blooming? What about the locus of the unfolding of this rose? Where does it bloom from? And again it turned out to be the question of the self-not only the topic of the book we had just translated but the focal point of all the author's thinking. Later still, he spoke of the Zen idea of "going to the moun tain" in retreat from the world, remarking on the surprising power of the distractions even after an escape from the busyness of every day urban life.

Then the sound of the wind or the birds becomes every bit as disruptive to one's practice as the noise of the traffic or the neighbors was in the city. The final, most difficult task is to re tain whatever understanding has been attained through contempla tive isolation after the return to everyday life. Or, in terms of an example that suggested itself some time later: the ability to retain the security of the monk sunk in meditation in the mountain-top monastery while negotiating the rush-hour traffic after a trying day at work is the mark of one's being genuinely on the Way.

The differences between city and country do appear, however, to have an effect with regard to the onset of nihilism, to the kinds of experience that might put one underway in the first place. In an environment of relatively untouched nature, what Nishitani calls. Things in nature are what they are, and do what they do "without why"; the drives of life operate simply, and perpetuate themselves, without there being any exter nal telos, any end or point to the process.

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In the realm of natural phenomena, in the midst of the grand cycles of nature, nihilism is not even possible, let alone actual. If certain features of the modern city are especially conducive to nihilism-even while at the same time covering it over-they op erate in Tokyo site of the first phase of the translation at full pitch. In a city where such a huge population does so much-and so much moving-in the course of a day, and in an environment so distanced from the natural, nihilistic moods are more likely to arise in the event that any kind of break occurs in the routine.

In the ineluctable awareness of the active presence of multitudes of one's fellow human beings devoting their energies toward work and rec reation-both as means to survival and distraction-the question of the point of it all is more apt to arise with some force. One comes to appreciate Heidegger's saying that we exist for the sake of one "in order-to" wozu after another, all the way down to the final "for the-sake-of-which" wor umwillen which may be ultimately in vain: for the sake of nothing at all.

Or, farther back, a classic but seldom cited aphorism from Nietzsche's Gay Science imparts a deeper resonance to Nietzsche's nihilism which finds its counterpart in Nishitani's thinking: -. The thought of death-It gives me a melancholy pleasure to live in the midst of this jumble of little lanes, needs, and voices : how much enjoyment, impatience, and desire, how much thirsty life and intoxication with life comes to light at every moment! And yet it will soon be so sti l l for all these noisy, living, life-thirsty people! How his shadow stands be hind each one of them, as his dark fellow traveler!

And each and every one of them supposes that the heretofore means little or nothing and that the near future is everything: hence this haste, this clamor, this drowning out and overreaching of each other! Everyone wants to be the first in this future-and yet it is death and deathly si lence that are alone certain and common to all in this future! How strange that this sole certainty and common ele-. GS This idea is echoed in the magnificent passage in Religion and Noth ingness where Nishitani discusses the Zen saying "Death's heads all over the field [of existence].

Eliot's lines from The Waste land concerning the procession of the dead across London Bridge: A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many. The prospect of the torrents of the living and working being pumped through the arteries of the big city of today is more over whelming in mass and intensity than it was forty years ago, or than the rush-hour crowds of London were in the thirties. And yet it is that very mass which keeps the population from seeing, in Nishita ni's tel ling image, "in double exposure, a picture of the dead"; and that intensity which keeps them from hearing "the desolate silence of death," from becoming aware of the "abyss of nihi lity" upon which the whole world is so precariously perched.

PHILOSOPHY - Nietzsche

Recent conversations with Nishitani have served to confirm that there is indeed a point not only to writing a book about nihilism but also to translating such a work-especially if a few readers are drawn to reflect upon the point of it all. Sitting and talking in the beneficent presence of so cosmopolitan a soul, one comes to appreciate more and more the point of translating that voice's discourses on nihilism for a larger audience.

The point is the same as the one to be made by each individual self on its own itself something attained only through the persistent practice of let ting nihilism overcome itself. Graham Parkes Honolulu A history of the text of Nihirizumu is given in the following transla tion of the Postscript to the latest edition of Nihirizumu Volume 8 of the Collected Works of Nishitani Keiji , written by the successor to Nishitani's Chair at Kyoto University, Professor Ueda Shizuteru: For the publication of Nihirizumu in volume 8 of the Collected Works, the essay "The Problem of Atheism" has been included as an appendix.

The history of Nihirizumu as a single volume is as follows. Beginning in May of , Professor Nishitani gave several talks on nihilism to a small group. Out of these talks a mono graph on European nihilism, focusing on Nietzsche, was pub lished as a volume in the Atene Shinsho series by Kobundo publishers in the autumn of the same year. This constitutes chapters 1 to 7 of Nihirizumu [chapters , 6, 8 and 9 of the present translation].

After that there was a change at the publishers, and publica tion was discontinued. During that period Professor Nishitani felt the necessity to expand the chapter on Heidegger, and in tended to do so in view of the importance of the inquiry into the essence of nihilism in the later Heidegger. However, in the book was republished without modifications as a new edition of Nihirizumu by Sobunsha through the International Institute for Japanese Studies in Nishinomiya.

At that time the essay "Nihilism in Nietzsche-Existence," which had origi nally been contributed to the volume Niichie Kenkyii Nietzsche Studies edited by Higami Hidehiro and published in , was added as an appendix [chapter 5 of the present translation]. From the ninth printing of the new edition in , the es say "Nihilism in Russia" was added [now chapter 7] to pro duce the expanded edition of Nihirizumu. This essay had been published as a volume in the series Atene Bunko by Kobundo in It was one volume of a planned series of three on the.

Two further volumes were to trace the deepening of nihi lism in Dostoevsky under the headings of nihilism "as action," "as being," and "as spirit," but they have not yet seen publication.

Of the three topics the author originally intended to cover when he began his talks on nihilism in May of , "Nietz sche, Dostoevsky, and Buddhism," the section of Western Eu ropean nihilism which focused on Nietzsche and about one third of the section on Dostoevsky together constitute the text of Nihirizumu. Many of Professor Nishitani's discussions of Dostoevsky's nihilism have remained unpublished, but the au thor's views on Dostoevsky are to be found in numerous places in the book KyOdo togi Dosutoefusukii no tetsugaku [A Dis cussion of Dostoevsky's Philosophy, with Watsuji Tetsuro] Kobundo, The issue of nihi lism and Buddhism is elab orated in a broader and deeper context in chapters 3 and 4 of the author's Shukyo towa nanika [Religion and Nothingness] Sobunsha, , "Nihility and Siinyata" and "The Stand point of Siinyata," which is reprinted as volume 10 of the Col.

The essay "The Problem of Atheism" was originally contrib uted to a volume of Collected Papers commemorating the fifti eth anniversary of the Department of Literature at Kyoto University in The life-current of Professor Nishitani's thinking flows throughout the present volume which takes nihilism as the principal theme. As he himself puts it: "The fundamental task for me, before philosophy and through philosophy, has been, in short, the overcoming of nihilism through nihilism" "My Philosophical Starting Point".

Ueda Shizuteru August 16, The present translation is based on this latest edition of the text.

Nishitani Keiji - The Self Overcoming of Nihilism

The appendix on Nietzsche and Existence has been inserted, in the interests of continuity, as chapter 5, after the two original Nietzsche chapters. This transposition prompted the excision of several sen tences here and there that would otherwise have replicated remarks made in the earlier two chapters. The logic and chronology of the argument suggested the insertion of the appendix on Russian nihil-.

The original final chapter now chapter 9 and the Appendix on atheism provide an appropriate transition to the ideas to be developed in the later Reli. For the translation of Nishitani's quotations or paraphrases from works in German, the original texts were used whenever they could be found. The citation of sources has not traditionally been a maj or concern in Japanese scholarship.

Since most modern Japa nese thinkers work primarily in European philosophy, when they write they frequently have in mind some technical term in German or French philosophy; the attempt simply to translate the Japanese term without "triangulating" through the European word of which it is a translation wil l often mislead or result in incoherence.

In the present instance it was thought best to translate from the original European-language text while "inclining" toward Nishitani's Japa nese rendering. In translating a passage from Nietzsche, for exam ple, one checks the Japanese version at every step; often a particular word, or image, or phrase of the original could go in several direc tions in English-so that one can then let the choice of direction be guided by the Japanese.

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When the Japanese diverged too far from the original, the latter was given priority and the connotations of the Japanese remarked in an endnote. In the case of Nietzsche's texts in particular, where ambiguity is often deliberately nuanced, this technique yielded some transla tions that were freshly illuminating-even to one already familiar with Nietzsche's works. Since some important features of Nishita ni's reading of Nietzsche come across by way of his translations all of which were his own , it was thought appropriate to incline to them rather than simply to use extant English translations of the relevant passages from Nietzsche.

The book as originally published contained no footnotes, the few references that there were being given in the body of the text. The author's references to passages from Schopenhauer, Kierkeg aard, Stirner, Nietzsche, and Heidegger have been retained in pa rentheses, though they have been changed to refer to the best or most accessible English translations. Nishitani's references to Ni etzsche's works are to the volume and page numbers of the Grossokt avausgabe of the Werke in twenty volumes, published by Kroner.


Passages from the Nachlass have been referred to the appropriate section numbers of Der Wille zur Macht The Will to Power in cases where they can be found in this edition; otherwise the original ref erences to the Grossoktavausgabe have been retained. References to works Nietzsche himself had published are to the title and apho-. In the case of Zarathustra, the Part is cited in Roman numerals and the chapter in Arabic.

References in square brackets and all the end notes have been supplied by the translator. The simple translation of the title of the original Japanese text would be Nihilism, but since several books of that name have been published in Western languages we thought it appropriate, with the approval of the author, to amplify it somewhat for the English edi tion. It was felt that the new title evokes the spirit of the text more ful ly-especial ly insofar as it obviates the impression that nihilism is to be overcome by means of something other than itself.