Grasping the space of the heart/mind: artistic creation and natural beauty in the later philosophy of Kitarō Nishida (1870-1945)

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Turkey

Approval Date: 2011

Thesis Language: English

Student: İbrahim Soner Özdemir

Supervisor: AHMET İNAM


In this dissertation, focusing on the problem of “aesthetic form” and its relation to the distinction between natural and artistic beauty, it is argued that the Japanese philosopher Kitarō Nishida’s (1870-1945) later conception of artistic creation provides a different model of the aesthetics of nature in which nature is appreciated as “what it is”. Nishida most fully elaborates his later conception of artistic creation in the “Artistic Creation as an Act of Historical Formation”, published in 1941. In this work Nishida conceives of artistic creation as an act of historical, social “formation”. According to this conception “aesthetic form” as the object of artistic creation, and hence what is relevant to its appreciation, is determined not only in relation to the historical, social context but also to the natural environment of its creation. Nishida further defines the historical “formation” as the “determination of form”, or the “grasping of space”. And he distinguishes two different types of the “grasping of space”. He suggests that in contrast to the Western arts, which are oriented toward grasping the “space of the things” (mono no kūkan), the Eastern arts aim to grasp the “space of the heart/mind” (kokoro no kūkan). In the “grasping of the space of the heart/mind”, what is grasped is not the object but the “space in which” (ni oite aru kūkan) the self, or the process of perception/creation is located.