Volume 56, Issue 1, March 2016
Comparing Kitarō Nishida’s Normative Naturalism with Neo-Aristotelian Naturalism
This paper compares two philosophical views from vastly different intellectual traditions: the views typical of neo-Aristotelian naturalism and the views that Kitarō Nishida describes in his An Inquiry into the Good. I concentrate on the following points. (1) Nishida and neo-Aristotelian naturalists share the view that the mind tends to construct experience as it characterizes phenomena. It evaluates those that fulfill this tendency positively and those that fail to fulfill it negatively. Moral judgment is one manifestation of this tendency. (2) This allows both approaches to claim that the natural goodness/defect that characterizes human beings results from the capacity of rational choice, and that normalcy in developing and exercising this capacity provides criteria for evaluating the moral status of individuals. (3) Nevertheless, they diverge on whether or not the application of these criteria is agent-neutral or agent-relative. Based on these considerations, I argue that Nishida’s view is free from a major difficulty that the neo-Aristotelian naturalist encounters.