Volume 2, Issue 1, 2014
Parsing the Topos and Dusting the Mirror
A Radical Internalization of “Basho-Topos”
In order to clarify Nishida’s notion of topos (basho), I trace its formation, starting with the notion of “pure experience,” of which he says: “To experience is to know the thing as it is.” By taking the act of “to know” as the thread that connects the ideas of pure experience and topos, I examine his early writings leading up to 1929, going beyond 1926, when Nishida’s essay “Basho” was published. Over against the commonly held “objectified” view of the topos as a “location” or “field” in which the individual exists, a radically ontological reading of this notion emerges, requiring us to shift the vantage point from which we approach it. I conclude that Nishida introduced into his philosophical system a locative dimension as an ontological feature, and we, conscious beings, exist in this world “topologically” (bashoteki). The topos refers to the very logico-ontological mode of our being.
In order to clarify what knowledge is, we need to begin with [the investigation of] reflective consciousness (jikakuteki ishiki 自覚的意識), rather than starting out with intellectual judgment (handan 判断). Consciousness pertaining to judgment cannot include the one [who judges] within it. It is an incomplete awareness that looks at the self externally. The explanation of how we know begins with the critical reflection of self-consciousness itself (jikaku jishin no jisei 自覚自身の自省). Therein, we obtain the standpoint of genuine epistemology.
Our real knowledge starts out with “I exist.” That “I exist” means that the topos is directly in the topos, and this is the standpoint of both inner perception and actual experience (taiken 体験).