Kitar Nishida was born during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912), a period in Japan’s history marked by rapid industrialization and Westernization. Like many of the intellectuals of this time, Nishida was concerned about the pervasiveness of scientific and Western modes of thought; he believed that these fostered in the Japanese people an alienation from nature and traditional cultural values. The result of this alienation, Nishida believed, was a sense of personal meaninglessness and a view of the world as coldly rational and mechanical. This alienation seemingly became concretized in the suicide of an eighteen-year-old student named Fujimura Misao. Fujimura’s suicide was seen, in part, as a protest against modernity’s overrationalization of life and the loss of the mystery of the universe. As a response to this alienation and growing sense of meaninglessness, many Japanese thinkers became critical of the changes brought about by the Meiji Restoration, particularly its importation of Western modes of thought. Nishida, while realizing a return to pre-Meiji perspectives was impossible, sought to reassess these “foreign” ideas in the context of traditional Buddhist thought, particularly in the Zen notion of “absolute nothingness.” He found in absolute nothingness the critical “space” that could include Western thought and science and, more important, ground them in the prescientific insights of Buddhist thought.