Volume 2, Issue 1, 2014
Laura Specker Sullivan
The Self-Contradictory Identity of the Personal Self
Nishida’s Argument against Kantian Pure Practical Reason
Throughout his entire career, Nishida Kitarō was, arguably, interested in challenging Immanuel Kant’s formulation of the moral will. In his first work, An Inquiry into the Good, he criticizes Kant’s pure practical reason as idealistic, arguing that the good should be understood not in terms of an abstract, formal relation of reason with itself, but in terms of personality as a single, unique, unifying power that is the true reality of the self. He echoes this language in his last work, “The Logic of the Place of Nothingness and the Religious Worldview,” proposing that the personal self exists as a self-determining individual through creative expression. This article will investigate how Nishida’s development of this concept of the personal self grounds his proposal that the goal of the moral will is realization of the good as a personal, rather than abstract, ideal, through the intentional action of active intuition.