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.