Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Wittgenstein and Buddhism

Uma Thurman's Dad writes:
"One major obstacle to appreciation of the richness of the Buddhist nonegocentrist tradition by modern philosophers, who would therein find so much of interest and use, is the unwarranted prejudice that Buddhist thought is "mysticism", that is, antiphilosophical or aphilosophical. This prejudice has only been intensified by those contemporary 'mystics' who have pointed to the young Wittgenstein's famous statement about silence in the Tractatus as evidence of his similarity to the imagined "silent sages of the East". In actuality, the vast majority of 'mystics', or nonrationalists, both Eastern and Western, have usually belonged to the egocentrist camp, at least tacitly if not formally. Recourse to mysticism is a typical aspect of being stuck in the egocentric predicament. The mature Wittgenstein clearly exposes the tremendous amount of mysticism involved in the uncritical use of ordinary language, especially by the egocentrist philosophers. He humorously points to our predilection to reify things by constructing realities out of concepts, substances out of substantives, revealing the common notion of "naming as, so to speak, an occult process and when the philosopher tries to bring out the relation between name and thing by staring at an object in front of him and repeating a name or even the word 'this'. And here we may fancy naming to be some remarkable act of mind, as it were a baptism of an object..." An egocentrist philosopher, when yet unwilling to surrender the notion as a mere mental construction, quite typically resorts to 'ineffability', 'inexpressibility', and so forth, making a virtue of his inability to find either a nonentity or its absence."

Can all Buddhist nonegocentrist philosophy be described as metaphysics?

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