Critical Analyses of Western Philosophy
Abe analyzes Western philosophy and theology based on the logic of is/is not. Eastern and Western thought differ significantly in their respective views on what Abe calls “negativity.” Traditionally, Western thought has favored the positive over the negative: being over nonbeing, life over death, permanence over impermanence. The positive principles of being, life, and permanence are considered primary, while nonbeing, death, and impermanence are viewed as secondary or derivative. In the East, however, the negative has always played a fundamental role in religions and philosophies. In fact, both being and nonbeing have equal force in many Eastern worldviews, particularly Buddhism.
Abe stresses that the Zen notion of nothingness is not the relative nonbeing that is the opposite of relative being. Rather, Zen nothingness is absolute nonbeing, which signifies a return to the original state of reality that existed before the division between positive and negative. This concept of reality is at odds with the traditional metaphysics of the West, including Platonism, which locates reality in the transcendent realm of ideal forms, and Christianity, which conceives of God as beyond this world. If Platonism and Christianity can be said to posit a transcendent reality, then Zen asserts, to use the philosopher Keiji Nishitani’s term, a trans-descendent reality.
In his critical analyses based on the logic...
(The entire section is 1044 words.)
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