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.
Expressive Activity (1925) 35
The Standpoint of Active Intuition (1935) 64
Human Being (1938) 144
“These well-crafted translations make three important essays by Nishida Kitarō, 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
"Ontology of Production is an intellectual breakthrough. By genuinely respecting Nishida Kitarō'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
“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
“Ontology of Production promises a remarkable – albeit challenging – journey that is well worth the pursuit.”
Marx & Philosophy Review of Books