Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism explores a new mode of philosophizing through a comparative study of Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology and philosophies of major Buddhist thinkers such as Nagarjuna, Chinul, Dogen, Shinran, and Nishida Kitaro. Challenging the dualistic paradigm of existing philosophical traditions, Merleau-Ponty proposes a philosophy in which the traditional opposites are encountered through mutual penetration. Likewise, a Buddhist worldview is articulated in the theory of dependent co-arising, or the middle path, which comprehends the world and beings in the third space, where the subject and the object, or eternalism and annihilation, exist independent of one another. The thirteen essays in this volume explore this third space in their discussions of Merleau-Ponty's concepts of the intentional arc, the flesh of the world, and the chiasm of visibility in connection with the Buddhist doctrine of no-self and the five aggregates, the Tiantai Buddhist concept of threefold truth, Zen Buddhist huatou meditation, the invocation of the Amida Buddha in True Pure Land Buddhism, and Nishida's concept of basho.
In his philosophical project, Merleau-Ponty makes vigorous efforts to challenge the boundaries that divide philosophy and non-philosophy, the East and the West, experience and concepts, the subject and the object, and body and mind. Combining the Eastern philosophical tradition of Buddhism with Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism offers an intercultural philosophy in which opposites intermingle in a chiasmic relationship, and which brings new understanding regarding the self and the self's relation with others in a globalized and multicultural world.
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Jin Y. Park is associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University.
Gereon Kopf is associate professor of religion at Luther College.
Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism is comparative philosophy at its best. The chapter authors clearly and insightfully draw out the resonances (as well as the often equally illuminating contrasts) between this key 20th century phenomenologist and a rich variety of Buddhist figures and schools of thought. Going beyond a simple demarcation of similarities and differences, however, the authors take advantage of the dialogical space opened up as an opportunity to engage in the practice of philosophizing itself, which in this case includes questioning the very nature (and limits) of philosophy as such. Jin Y. Park and Gereon Kopf have done scholars of phenomenology as well as those of Buddhist thought a great service in assembling and co-authoring this volume, which is bound to leave a positive and lasting impact on both fields. (Bret W. Davis, Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University Maryland)
The French phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty independently rediscovered something that has long been articulated in many of the various strains of Mahayana Buddhist practice, namely the ambiguous interpenetration and dependent becoming of the self and its world. These two sites of thinking have much to say to each other and in this important and provocative volume they are brought into dialogue. In these strong and diverse essays, we do not merely learn what is the same and what is different in these two interlocutors. The intermediary nature of both becomes a model for comparative thinking itself. (Jason Wirth, Professor of Philosophy at Seattle University and author of Mountains, Rivers, and the Great Earth: Reading Gary Snyder and Dōgen in an Age of Ecological Crisis)
Finally, the much-needed book on Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology and Buddhist philosophy-something many of us have glimpsed at is now skillfully put together in a single volume by two outstanding scholars who are anchored in both traditions. This edited volume includes chapters by solid scholars and thinkers who attempt to bridge the gap between the unrelated traditions of Buddhism and Continental thought while seeing a "third space" for philosophical resonance that advances our discourses on the body, its space, and life-world. Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism is a valuable contribution to comparative philosophy. (David Jones, Kennesaw State University)
This volume as a whole is a highly thought-provoking joint-project of comparative studies on some of the most fundamental questions in philosophy. Strongly recommended to anyone who is interested in Merleau-Ponty or/and Buddhism. (Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy)
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