18th Century Japan: Culture and Society by C. Andrew Gerstle

By C. Andrew Gerstle

The interval of eastern background prior to the appearance of industrialisation and modernism is of large curiosity. The essays during this assortment convey a fascination with the social context at the back of the improvement of aesthetics, drama, language, artwork and philosophy, even if it's the area of the excitement quarters or the Shogun's court docket.

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One final remark is in order. Nishida did not as a rule cite secondary literature, but preferred to mention only primary sources in his work. His diaries give us a somewhat better idea of his reading habits, but it seems clear that he wanted to choose the company with whom he would appear in print, and it was primarily western thinkers of rank. One has to think that much of this was merely an imitation of the convention of those philosophers whose writings he worked with. What is peculiar to Nishida, though, and far from convention, was the fact that he could lift whole phrases and sentences from his reading in order to wrestle with the ideas, often without indicating whom he was citing or from where.

Otherwise, it contains only those works related to the Kyoto school and its general intellectual background cited in the text and notes, as well as some supplementary material. A comprehensive bibliography on the Kyoto school remains to be done. It was with some regret, and only at the eleventh hour when I realized that the list I had compiled had grown out of all proportion to the rest of the book, that I eliminated about one-half of the Japanese and one-third of the western entries. Even had I left them in, the list would only reflect what I have kept track of over the years and could hardly have claimed to be exhaustive.

His final essay, "The Logic of Locus and a Religious Worldview," appeared only months before his death at age seventy-five of a renal infection, a few weeks before Japan accepted defeat at the hands of the Allied Powers. Most of what remains of Nishida's handwritten manuscripts has been 32 Philosophers of Nothingness gathered together in Kyoto University library, along with his personal library, which includes some 2,000 of the 3,000 foreign books he left behind on a wide range of topics. Of the 5,000 books in his library, those in Japanese number the fewest, surpassed by his collection on Buddhism, Christianity, and east Asian philosophy.

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