Education and Empty Relationality: Thoughts on Education and the Kyoto School of Philosophy

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This article builds on the growing literature on the Kyoto School of Philosophy and its influences on the field of Education. First, I argue that the influence of the Kyoto School of Philosophy is historically significant in Japan, and that the connection between this philosophical school and the philosophy of education is by no means superficial. Second, I suggest that this school contributes a unique view of ‘negative education’ founded in the philosophical idea of ‘nothingness’. I examine how this negative education is manifest both in religious cultivation and in more general views of education, and I develop these ideas through the models of self-negation proposed by Nishitani Keiji and Hisamatsu Shin'ichi. Third, taking up the Herbartian idea of ‘pedagogical tact’, I analyse the characteristics of the I-Thou relationship, in the vector of nothingness, implicit in the above-mentioned view of education. I examine two approaches to this relationship—one of ‘sharing in nothingness’ as found in Nishitani and Hisamatsu, and one that goes beyond the idea of ‘sharing’ and accommodates alterity, as found in Nishida Kitarô and Nishihira Tadashi. By threshing out these three points, I hope to highlight the continued pedagogical relevance of the philosophical ideas of the Kyoto School.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-654
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Philosophy of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • History
  • Philosophy


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