Ontology of Production

Three Essays

Ontology of Production

Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society

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Book Pages: 216 Illustrations: Published: February 2012

Author: Nishida Kitaro

Translator: William Haver

Asian Studies, Politics > Political Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Marxism

Ontology of Production presents three essays by the influential Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitarō (1870–1945), translated for the first time into English by William Haver. While previous translations of his writings have framed Nishida within Asian or Oriental philosophical traditions, Haver's introduction and approach to the texts rightly situate the work within Nishida's own commitment to Western philosophy. In particular, Haver focuses on Nishida's sustained and rigorous engagement with Marx's conception of production.

Agreeing with Marx that ontology is production and production is ontology, Nishida in these three essays—"Expressive Activity" (1925), "The Standpoint of Active Intuition" (1935), and "Human Being" (1938)—addresses sense and reason, language and thought, intuition and appropriation, ultimately arguing that in this concept of production, ideality and materiality are neither mutually exclusive nor oppositional but, rather, coimmanent. Nishida's forceful articulation of the radical nature of Marx's theory of production is, Haver contends, particularly timely in today's speculation-driven global economy. Nishida's reading of Marx, which points to the inseparability of immaterial intellectual labor and material manual labor, provokes a reconsideration of Marxism's utility for making sense of—and resisting—the logic of contemporary capitalism.


“It should be regarded not only as an introduction to Nishida’s thought and the richness of twentieth-century Japanese philosophy but also as an invitation to investigate the Eastern traditions that account for so much of its depth and mystical appeal.” — Germaine A. Hoston, Political Theory

Ontology of Production promises a remarkable – albeit challenging – journey that is well worth the pursuit.” — David Baronov, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

"Ontology of Production is an intellectual breakthrough. By genuinely respecting Nishida Kitaro's commitment to 'Western philosophy,' William Haver corrects long-standing misinterpretations of the philosopher's work. The translations themselves are astonishing. Until reading this book, I had not imagined that such fidelity to the original was possible between Japanese and English." — Naoki Sakai, author of Translation and Subjectivity: On "Japan" and Cultural Nationalism

“These well-crafted translations make three important essays by Nishida Kitaro, Japan’s preeminent philosopher, available to English-language readers. In the introduction, William Haver suggests a new way of reading the essays, one that explains the ways that Nishida’s work helps us to better understand the contemporary world.” — Christian Uhl, Ghent University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Nishida Kitarō (1870–1945), considered the founder of the Kyoto School of Japanese philosophy, was Professor of Philosophy at Kyoto University. His many books include An Inquiry into the Good; Intuition and Reflection in Self-Consciousness; and Fundamental Problems of Philosophy. William Haver is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University. He is the author of The Body of This Death: Historicity and Sociality in the Time of AIDS.

William Haver is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Binghamton University. He is the author of The Body of This Death: Historicity and Sociality in the Time of AIDS.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction 1

Expressive Activity (1925) 35

The Standpoint of Active Intuition (1935) 64

Human Being (1938) 144

Notes 187

Glossary 195

Index 199
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5180-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5164-1
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