On the Principle of Comparative East Asian Philosophy: Nishida Kitarō and Mou Zongsan 東亞哲學比較研究之基礎:西田幾多郎與牟宗三


Recent research both on the Kyoto School and on the contemporary New Confucians suggests significant similarities between these two modern East Asian philosophies. Still missing is, however, an explanation of the shared philosophical ideas that serve as the foundation for comparative studies. For this reason, I analyze the basic theories of the two distinctly East Asian philosophies of Nishida Kitarō (1870-1945) and Mou Zongsan (1909-95) so as to identify and extract the same type of argument. This is an alternative to the analyses provided by the previous studies of their philosophies, which inevitably regard their theories as an East Asian assimilation of modern European philosophy in the Kantian, Neo-Kantian, or phenomenological tradition, or else as the traditional tenets under the guise of philosophical speculation, without being able to clarify how these theories contribute to philosophy. My analysis shows that both the logic of basho and the theory of perfect teaching formulate the same type of theory, the ontological or opological — onto-topological — turn from the act of consciousness to its basho or its vertical enfolding, which constitutes the bedrock of East Asian philosophy.