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In Session: The Kyoto School and Ethics of the Contemporary World: Science, World History, and Religion
1: Nishida's Ontology and Ethics: From the Object-Oriented Perspective
Friday, March 26, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
This presentation examines Nishida’s late thought (especially his ethics) with focus on his idea of “object” (mono), or his object-oriented thought. Object-oriented thought is here defined as skepticism about the possibility of “correlationist” ontology, i.e., skepticism about the idea that human reason is correlative or constitutive of objective reality. Recently, certain forms of object-oriented thought (or “speculative” materialism) have become influential in continental philosophy. They generally contemplate on the nature of reality independent of human thought. Quentin Meillassoux, for example, criticizes “correlationism” of post-Kantian philosophy, phenomenology, and even late Wittgenstein by referring to “arche-fossils” that demonstrate objective reality of pre-ancestral history prior to the genus Homo. Natural science produces various pre-ancestral statements which undermine post-Kantian (transcendental) idealism, but what alternative ontology should we have now? It is not difficult to see Nishida’s non-dual thought (in the 1910s) is “correlationism” by their definition. Increasingly, however, Nishida’s thought is object-oriented as defined above in its orientation, especially after 1930. Yet his idea of “object” does not provide a clear-cut definition. Indeed, it is not obvious at all how speculative realists define the object either. This presentation attempts to create two-way dialogues between Nishida (or his fellow Kyoto thinkers) and contemporary object-oriented continental thought regarding the object or the nature of objective reality, and the nature of ethics. Ultimately, the presentation tries to relate Nishida’s object-oriented thought to contemporary ethical problems such as global warming, advanced capitalism, and neo-colonialism.