Nishitani on Japanese Identity

Lowith compares the undiscriminating nature of the Japanese with the free mastery of the ancient Greeks when they adopted neighboring cultures: they felt free among others as if they were at home, and at the same time retained their sense of self. There is no such unity of self and others in the case of Japan. Lowith says that modern Japan is itself a ‘living contradiction.’ What he says is true–but how are we then to resolve such a contradiction? As a European, Lowith let the question lie there. It is our problem, a problem of will.

– Keiji Nishitani, The Self-Overcoming of Nihilism, 1990

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