May 4, 2010

Philisophical Phun - Pure Experience

Nishida KitarĂ´ was the most significant and influential Japanese philosopher of the twentieth-century. His work is pathbreaking in several respects: it established in Japan the creative discipline of philosophy as practiced in Europe and the Americas; it enriched that discipline by infusing Anglo-European philosophy with Asian sources of thought; it provided a new basis for philosophical treatments of East Asian Buddhist thought; and it produced novel theories of self and world with rich implications for contemporary philosophizing. Nishida's work is also frustrating for its repetitive and often obscure style, exceedingly abstract formulations, and detailed but frequently dead-end investigations.Nishida once said of his work, “I have always been a miner of ore; I have never managed to refine it” [I really like this statement, I resemble this remark :o)]

For an interesting summary of Buddhism, go over to Shock and Awe.

“Pure experience” names not only the basic form of every sensuous and every intellectual experience but also the fundamental form of reality, indeed the “one and only reality” from which all differentiated phenomena are to be understood. Cognitive activities such as thinking or judging, willing, and intellectual intuition are all derivative forms of pure experience but identical to it insofar as they are in act—when thinking, willing, etc. are going on.
Nishida would deny that his position is a kind of idealism, either subjective or transcendental, because no subjective mind, human or divine, is the origin of what is taken as reality, and no personified or ego-aware spirit is its beginning or end. His notion of pure experience clearly shows the influence of William James, Ernst Mach, and others, but it differs from their notions as well as from twentieth-century expositions of pre-reflective experience by its emphasis on the non-individuated character and the seamless development of such experience.
To me, seeing the blue of Crater Lake, or the frolic of a foal, the first sound of the hummingbird's wings, at that moment of first observation, and the sense of beauty and joy, are in line with this pure experience. Later, we may contemplate why they have that reaction for us, but the first moment of pure experience is priceless.



  1. I used to explore eastern religion and thought until I just found it easier to not believe in anything. Less reading that way.

  2. Teeluck is great, isn't he?! And I love your examples of pure experience, especially the Crater Lake one; how could that ever be described adequately? I would add the smell of gardenias. I can't hold that smell in my memory and no perfume has ever captured it. Even if I've just put my nose into a blossom, then plucked it and tucked it behind my ear, a moment or two later, I have to bring it to my nose again.

    I like this post, Bucko. It's right up my alley.

  3. Actually, since I've been watching the Universe series on the Discovery Channel, I feel like a teeny tiny piece of interstellar dust.


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)