Extinction and Nothingness: Deconstruction and the Kyoto School

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Contribution to the work of national or international committees and working groups


Philippe Lynes' masterclass on “Extinction and Nothingness: Deconstruction and the Kyoto School”
In his 1994 seminar Le Témoignage, Jacques Derrida invites us to reflect on the question ‘comment s’habituer à rien?’: how to get used, or habituate oneself to nothing. With this query, however, Derrida means neither exclusively getting used to something, to nothing as some thing or res, to the nothing, to being nothing or being dead, nor to having nothing, but to nothingness as the thing’s irreversible annihilation; “my death there will have been, the end of the world for me there shall be, end of the earth and humanity there shall be, after the exhaustion of the sun, etc. and yet, against this or even because of this, from this absolute despair, I still hope to bear witness. It’s of this nothing, this being nothing, this thing of the nothing that I would like to speak in asking ‘comment s’habituer à rien?‘” Derrida thus importantly anticipates several gestures at work in Speculative Realism’s interrogations of extinction, the nihilistic implications of which are best captured in Ray Brassier’s question: “how does thought think a world without thought? Or more urgently: How does thought think the death of thinking?” If Parmenides’ ‘correlationism’ between being and thinking foreclosed an adequate response to these questions since the inception of Western philosophy, might the Eastern philosophy of nothingness [mu, 無], as presented by the Kyoto School philosophers Nishida Kitarō and Nishitani Keiji, offer an alternative manner by which to think through the extinction of thought? In this talk, I propose a comparative analysis of notions such as Derrida’s khōra and Nishida’s place [basho, 場所], Brassier’s non-being and being-nothing with Nishitani’s nihility [kyomu, 虚無] and emptiness [ku,空], in order to expand on the latter’s understanding of the fundamental task of philosophy: “the overcoming of nihilism through nihilism”.
Period13 Dec 2022
Event typeSeminar
LocationLisbon, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Philosophy
  • Japanese Studies
  • kyoto school
  • ecology
  • decolonization