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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter offers an existential approach to those aspects of Nishitani’s philosophy that are motivated by a profound sense of the utter meaninglessness of existence and by the desire to confront that situation honestly. It examines his idea of the three fields of awareness: consciousness, (beneath it) nihility, and (at bottom) emptiness. Existence on the field of consciousness is too superficial to make for a fulfilling life. Drawing from Nietzsche and Heidegger, as well as from the Zen tradition, Nishitani outlines the field of nihility as a place of death rather than life and argues that if we can endure facing our finitude there will come a turn to the deeper field, of emptiness. On this field, we are able to encounter things “on their home ground” for the first time and also our selves as participants in the network of relations that constitute the world as “a field of force.”

Keywords: Nishitani, Nietzsche, Heidegger, consciousness, death, emptiness, nihilism, nihility, zazen, Zen

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