Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, Advanced Research Center for Human Sciences, Waseda University


Home > List of Articles > This article

Nothingness, the Self, and the Meaning of Life
: Nishida, Nishitani, and Japanese Psychotherapeutic Approaches to the Challenge of Nihilism

Lehel Balogh

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.10, No.1 (July 2020):98-119




In my paper I propose to explore how four influential 20th century philosophers and psychotherapists in Japan, Nishida Kitarō, Nishitani Keiji, Morita Masatake and Yoshimoto Ishin have given shape to their meditations on nothingness, emptiness and the self, and in what ways did their works point to similar directions when it comes to the question of fending off the dangers of nihilism and finding a new meaning in life. After introducing various concepts of nihilism and setting the historical and intellectual context of the era, I shall delve into the theoretical configurations of the self in relation to nothingness and emptiness in Nishida’s, Morita’s, Nishitani’s and Yoshimoto’s views. The paper will conclude with the delineation of some common features in the four thinkers’ oeuvre that could assist the self in getting rid of the threat of nihilism by transforming itself into an emotionally and existentially more stable mode of being.

[PDF] [Repository] Open Access