Nishida Kitarō on Social Contradiction: A Critical Lens for Analyzing Community-Supported Agriculture

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The central concern of this paper is the linkages between contradiction and social change, as developed in the work of Nishida Kitarō, a critical social philosopher who explored the nature of social contradiction vis-à-vis local agency, global structures, and social change. Building on Nishida’s conceptual framework, I trace social change to the ontological nature of social contradiction as manifest in myriad social phenomena. This then provides a critical lens for analyzing the contemporary development of community-supported agriculture (CSA). Indeed, the growing popularity of CSAs across the USA makes visible a host of social contradictions, including those between local and global food production and between local consumption and global distribution. Invoking Nishida to peel back the layers of contradiction and assess the potential social impact of CSAs, we address two broad questions. First, what is the nature of contradiction as a fundamental aspect of social life? Second, how can the notion of contradiction help us frame the role of CSAs as a force for social change? In this manner, Nishida’s interpretation of social contradiction shapes our understanding of CSAs, while our understanding of CSAs further refines our assessment of Nishida.



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