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Emptiness of Transcendence — The Inconceivable and Invisible in Chinese Buddhist Thought
Author Kantor, Hans-Rudolf
Source Transcendence, Immanence, and Intercultural Philosophy
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publisher Url
LocationLondon, UK [倫敦, 英國]
Content type專題研究論文=Research Paper
NoteAuthor affiliations: Professor of the Graduate Institute of Asian Humanities at Huafan University, Taipei.
KeywordBlind Spot; Intrinsic Nature; Linguistic Expression; Correlative Dependence; Pure Reason
AbstractThis chapter deals with the denial of the ontological sense of transcendence from a Chinese Buddhist point of view. Buddhist sources usually emphasize that everything we encounter or experience in the world we inhabit comes to our attention as a referent of our own intentional acts. This implies that all things and events are compound phenomena, built upon a manifoldness of interrelated components. The technical term for this is called “conditioned co-arising” (Sanskrit: pratītya-samutpāda, Chinese: yuanqi 緣起) and it means that there is no thing which arises apart from a relation of mutual dependence between itself and other things.

Chinese Mahāyāna sources particularly stress the “emptiness of inherent existence” (Sanskrit: śūnyatā, Chinese: kong 空), since interdependently arising things are constituted on the basis of extrinsic relationships. Emptiness sustains all interdependent arising in the sense that it denies an independent and intrinsic nature that informs the identity of particular things. What appears to be a distinctive and singular entity is not intrinsically existent and is not ultimately real. However, such unreality evades our conventional awareness like a blind spot, precisely due to the fact that this falsehood permeates all of our epistemic-propositional references. “Ontological indeterminacy” thus addresses the ontological status of an inevitable, but evading, falsehood that shapes the way in which we relate to and exist in our world. To understand the true sense of emptiness is to realize the existential relevance of falsehood and also to differentiate illusory existence from what is ultimately real.

However, this means that the stance of ontological indeterminacy excludes the transcendent sense of ultimate reality, while its concomitant awareness of falsehood includes a form of self-referential observation. This again requires the use of paradoxical language to avoid falling prey to the deceptive force of that falsehood. Hence, awareness is dynamic and constantly renews itself, realizing the always variegating blind spot in a course of self-modifying observation. This chapter discusses Seng Zhao’s (僧肇 374–414), Zhiyi’s (538–597), and Fazang’s (法藏 643–712) approaches to such emptiness of transcendence, ontological indeterminacy, and awareness of the blind spot.
Table of contentsThe Blind Spot in Madhyamaka Thought 125
The Blind Spot According to Chinese Huayan Thought 137
Conclusion 146
Created date2020.11.04
Modified date2020.12.17

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