Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism




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Though contemporary European philosophy and critical theory have long had a robust engagement with Christianity, there has been no similar engagement with Buddhism—a surprising lack, given Buddhism’s global reach and obvious affinities with much of Continental philosophy. This volume fills that gap, focusing on “nothing”—essential to Buddhism, of course, but also a key concept in critical theory from Hegel and Marx through deconstruction, queer theory, and contemporary speculative philosophy. Through an elaboration of emptiness in both critical and Buddhist traditions; an examination of the problem of praxis in Buddhism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis; and an explication of a “Buddhaphobia” that is rooted in modern anxieties about nothingness, Nothing opens up new spaces in which the radical cores of Buddhism and critical theory are renewed and revealed.
 
Excerpt from Introduction

So much nothing, so little time. This is a book made of nothings: with a smile and a quizzical frown, let us talk about nothing. Ours is a moment replete with theoretical and philosophical nothings: Alain Badiou with his zero, Slavoj Žižek with his Less than Nothing, and nihilist forms of speculative realism (Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound) to name but a few. In this book, the reader will encounter all kinds of nothing. There are the epistemological gaps between Buddhism and critical theory—for instance, their misalignments and misunderstandings. Then there are gaps and voids that might be ontological: gaps between and within things themselves, within what the many forms of Buddhism and theory take to be reality: nothingness, gap, no-thing, emptiness, annihilation; event, revolution, void. There are indeed cracks and spaces within the very concepts of nothing and nothingness that pervade Buddhism, theory, and Western philosophical appropriations of Buddhism more generally.

Beyond and behind all these, we hope that Nothing: Three Inquiries in Buddhism will engage the void between Buddhism and critical theory—precisely by opening up these nothings, gaps, and zeroes. The purpose of this introduction is to outline the contours of the nothings that make up this book.

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