Sunday, February 24, 2013


"The process of thought that underlies Western philosophy is demonstrative. Based on the principle of contradiction, it must be able to be discussed verbally and precisely. Western philosophy and science are its inevitable product.

Philosophical thought in such cultures as China and Japan does not necessarily require demonstrative arguments and precise verbal expression. Communication of thought is often indirect, suggestive, and symbolic rather than descriptive and precise. The thought process underlying the nondemonstrative approach does not simply rely on language but rather denies it; science, logic and mathematics did not and could not have emerged from it. This does not mean that it is undeveloped and that it must evolve along Western lines.

The Eastern way of thinking is qualitatively different from the Western with its emphasis on verbal and conceptual expression. This separation from language and rational thought is typically found in Zen, which conveys its basic standpoint with the statement, "No reliance on words or letters, a special transmission apart from doctrinal teaching."

The same attitude appears in Confucius, who proclaims, "Clever talk and pretentious manner are seldom found in the Good". We encounter it in ink drawings that negate form and color, Noh theater with its negation of direct or external expression and Japanese waka and haiku poetry. The Eastern approach must be sought in non-thinking beyond thinking and not-thinking.

To generate a creative synthesis of Eastern and Western philosophy, one must include but go beyond the demonstrative thinking that is characteristic of the West, and arrive at unobjectifiable ultimate reality and give it a logical articulation by conceptually expressing the inexpressible.

.....'An Inquiry into the Good' (1911) is the first fruit of Kitaro Nishida's effort to respond to the need for this kind of synthesis.

From the Introduction, by Masao Abe

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