An Inquiry into the Good

An Inquiry into the Good, also known as A Study of Good, (Japanese: 善の研究, Zen no kenkyū) is a 1911 book by the Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida. The work has been described as a masterpiece.

An Inquiry into the Good
An Inquiry into the Good.jpg
Cover of an English translation
AuthorKitaro Nishida
Original titleZen no kenkyū
  • 1911 (in Japanese)
  • 1960 (in English)
Media typePrint

Influence and receptionEdit

Graham Parkes described An Inquiry into the Good as a "masterpiece". He wrote that was made possible by the Japanese interest in western philosophy that began with the Meiji Restoration of 1868. He considered the book "path-breaking" and identified it as Nishida's best-known accomplishment.[1]

The religious studies scholar Ninian Smart stated that An Inquiry into the Good "struck many readers as the first truly creative work by a Japanese that did not merely repeat western ideas, and yet made use of modern thinking and terminology." However, he added that the work was criticized by the philosopher Takahashi Satomi, who found the subjectivism of "pure experience" too psychological.[2]


  1. ^ Parkes 2005, pp. 458, 659.
  2. ^ Smart 2008, pp. 426, 430.


  • Parkes, Graham (2005). "Japanese philosophy". In Honderich, Ted (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Smart, Ninian (2008). "China, Korea and Japan in modern times". In Leaman, Oliver (ed.). World Philosophies, Revised Second Edition. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-41189-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)