Nishida Kitarō (1870–1945) is considered by many as the most important 20th century Japanese philosopher for his ability to employ modern concepts and terminologies, and use them to construct a unique system carrying a distinctly East Asian flavour. In this system, the notion of nothingness plays a fundamental part both in terms of epistemology and ontology. While this conceptual choice was also inspired by Buddhist sources, Nishida also drew on the theoretical philosophy of Hermann Cohen to elaborate, how nothingness could function as both the guarantor of unity and generator of plurality. Close analysis, however, shows that Nishida’s appropriation of Cohen’s concept of the me on as a necessary feature in the „logic of pure knowledge“ sheds the constraints carefully put in place by Cohen. As becomes evident in a comparison between both thinker’s analysis of sensation, Nishida’s unrestricted use of Cohen’s terms collapses precisely those distinctions that give sensation its meaning in the rational assessment of reality. This leaves Nishida’s concept of reality without the critical potential to distinguish between different kinds of normativity and their inter-subjective validity. Nothingness, as Nishida uses the term, is not a logical concept, but functions as an aesthetic symbol invoking sublime ideas of a perfect reality that is one and whole, and at the same time rich and diverse.