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    Working Emptiness
     
    [ 作者: Newman Robert Glass   来自:期刊原文   已阅:7611   时间:2007-1-16   录入:douyuebo


    ·期刊原文
    Working Emptiness: Toward a Third Reading of Emptiness in Buddhismand Postmodern Thought
    by Newman Robert Glass
    Reviewed by Roger Jackson
    Philosophy East & West
    Vol.48:2 July 1998
    Pp. 357-360
    Copyrught @ 1998 by University of Hawai'i Press

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------.p.357Newman  Robert Glass describes  his ambitious  and intriguingfirst  book, Working  Emptiness: Toward  a Third  Reading  ofEmptiness in Buddhism and Postmodern  Thought, as an exercisein "postmodern  theology"  whose ultimate  purpose is to helpdevelop  a "Buddhist  constructive  philosophy"  out of a newreading  of Buddhist  discourse  about emptiness  (suunyataa)(pp. 4-5).  In the service of this new reading, Class deploysa  staggering  array  of  thinkers,  texts, and  topics, bothWestern  and Asian.  Among  Western  figures, he draws, interalia, from Heidegger, Cadamer, Altizer, Derrida, Mark Taylor,and  Deleuze   and  Guattari;   Buddhist   fiegures   includeNaagaarjuna, the authors  of the Tathaagatagarbha  literatureand  the  tantras,  the  Sixth  Chan  Patriarch,  Dogen,  andNishitani  Keiji, not  to mention  a large  number  of modernBuddhist scholars.  Fields he considers  include metaphysics,logic,  psychology,  aesthetics,  physics,  and  ethics.  Hisanalysis is condensed and complex: discussions  of postmodernideas  flow into discourses  on Buddhism  and back out again.There are more threads linking his various subjects  than canpossibly  be  untied  in  a brief  review, so  what  follows,focusing  primarily  on Glass' approach  to Buddhism, must beseen as only one, partial approach to this multifaceted book.    Glass' central  argument  is that there are two readings,or "workings," of emptiness  that have dominated Buddhist andWestern scholarly  analysis  of the concept: the first, whichbears a striking resemblance  to Heidegger's  insistence thatrelease  into unthought  nothingness  clears  the ground  for"presencing" Being, sees emptiness as "co-dependent  arising"and therefore  as moving beyond mere negation into a rhetoricof  mutuality  and  interdependence;  the  second,  which  isclosely analogous to Mark Taylor's playful, endless Derrideandeferral  of meaning  in favor of "difference"  or "nothing,"sees  emptiness  as "dependent  arising, " a negation  of allpresence and the denial of all possible positions. For Glass,each of these workings of emptiness proceeds from a "logic ofnegation"  that  reflects  a  preoccupation  with  issues  of"thinking"  and "not thinking, " often at the expense  of theaffective  and ethical dimensions  of human existence.  Theseareas, Glass believes, are addressed most fully in the "thirdworking of emptiness," (found, e.g., in the  Tathaagatagarbhaliterature  and  the  writings  of  Dogen),  which  proceeds,philosophically   through   a  "logic  of  subtraction"   andpractically  through a meditative  "burning off of outflowingtendencies"  (p.  88), to reveal an original "essence"  that,more than the presence  or absence  of thought, is a state ofpositive   desire,  compassionate   engagement,  and   "fieldsensitivity, " like that described by Deleuze and Cuattari.p.358    Rhetorically, Glass' argument is classically Buddhist: heposits two "extreme" positions ("presence" and "difference"),analyzes  the short-comings  of each, then  suggests  a thirdapproach  ("essence") that  avoids  the pitfalls  of the  twoinitial  positions  and thereby finds the "middle"  ¢w thoughthe latter is not a metaphor invoked by Glass.  If we believetradition, this  style  of rhetoric  was  originated  by  theBuddha himself  in the seminal  Dhammacakkappavattana  Sutta,and has been echoed by countless  Buddhists  since, includingNaagaarjuna and the philosophers of the Indian Yogaacaara andChinese  Tientai  schools.  In  structure, therefore," Glass'analysis is indisputably  an example of "Buddhist  theology."Furthermore, his  reading  of emptiness  from  the  "essence"perspective  of the Tathaagatagarbha  literature and Dogen isvaluable  not  only  as  a  theological  stance,  but  as  animportant reminder that `suunyataa truly is "empty," an open,profoundly  contested  term among Buddhists, which cannot  berestricted  to  a single, canonical  meaning, and  which  is,furthermore, inseparable  from Buddhist  practice.  Moreover,Glass' alignment  of various Buddhist  workings  of emptinesswith  a number  of perspectives  adopted  in the  modern  andpostmodern  West adds suggestive echoes to his arguments, andoften  reflects  an  appreciation  for  the  nuances  of bothBuddhist   and  postmodern   thought  sometimes   lacking  incomparisons  between  the two.  At the same time, there are anumber of problems raised by Glass' analysis. One of the mostbasic  is  that  the  stances  he  identifies  as  the  three"workings"   of  emptiness  appear  to  be  rather  arbitraryconstructions, based  as much  on Class'  reading  of  modernscholars'  interpretations  of Buddhist texts as on the textsthemselves, and even  when  the texts  themselves  are cited,Glass  seldom  provides  the ideas  in them with any context.This rather ahistorical  approach  makes it simpler to "find"the three workings  within the tradition, but leaves one lessthan  fully  confident  that  the  categories  are  naturallyyielded  by  ¢w rather  than  projected  into  ¢w the  texts.Especially   problematic    is   the   distinction    between"co-dependent   arising"  and  "dependent  arising"  (each  apossible  translation  of the Sanskrit  pratiitya-samutpaada)that Glass  uses to separate  the first and second  workings.This distinction requires considerably  stronger philologicaland historical justification  than he has provided, and mighthave been more compelling philosophically  if it had been setmore firmly within the context of traditional  categories  ofanalysis, such  as  the  two  truths  or  the  major  schoolsMadhyamaka.  Glass  never  makes  it entirely  clear  who, ifanyone, might actually exemplify one of these workings to theexclusion  of the other.  Does Nishitani  represent the firstworking  and  Naagaarjuna  the second? I am not certain  thatGlass believes so, and if he does, I question  whether eitherassignment  can  be easily  justified.  This, in turn, raisessuspicions  about the validity of the distinction, other thanas an ideal construction that may actually be inspiredp.359by differences  between Western thinkers (e.g., Heidegger andDerrida or Taylor) rather than among Buddhists themselves.     Furthermore,  while  Glass'   interweaving   of  Westernphilosophical  terms with those of Buddhism is suggestive andinteresting, I wish  he had kept  the two more distinct.  Forexample,  his  implication   that   the  first   working   ofemptiness, as co-dependent  arising, entails  something  likeHeidegger's  notion  of "presence"  never is fully explained,and    is   especially    puzzling    whin    one   considersthat  the  affirmation   of  mutuality   and  interdependenceentailed  by emptiness  rarely  seems  to have  connoted  forBuddhists   (especially   Maadhyamikas)  the  "presence"   ofanything  like "Being"  as Hediegger  understands  it.  Also,Glass' equation of the aporeitic Naagaarjunian  diatlectic ofthe second  working  with Derrida's  or Taylor's  notions  of"difference"  or  "nothing"  is  unproblematic  only  if  oneremoves the Maadhyamika  texts from their religious milieu ¢wa move Glass  himself, with  his apprecation  for "practice,"should be reluctant to make.  Potentially  confusing, too, ishis identification  of the third  working  of emptiness  with"essence"  and  the promotion  of "desire," given  that  mostBuddhists,  even  theoreticians   of  Tathaagatagarbha,  deny"essence"   (aatman,  svabhaava)  and  usually   assert  that"desire"  (.t.rr.sna, raaga) is a major source  of suffering.Glass apparently  intends  these words in a Deleuzian  ratherthan  a  Buddhist  sense  (see  pp.83  ff.) ,  but  here,  aselsewhere, the  importation  of crucial  Western  terms  intoBuddhist discussions may raise more problems than it solves.    Finally, Glass fails to show convincingly tha the  "thirdworking"  of emptiness  uniquely  address  the affective  andethical  concerns  he feels  ae  slighted  to one  degree  oranother  by the first two approaches.  On the one hand, it ispossible  to cite practitioners  we might associate  with thefirst two workings ¢w for example, Naagaarjuna, Candrakiirti,`Saantideva, Ati`sa, and Tsong kha pa ¢w for whom there is nocontradiction,  but,  rather,  a  profound   harmony  betweennegation  and affirmation, analysis and faith, and wisdom andcompassion, leaving  one  to wonder  whether  the  "logic  ofnegation"  of the first two workings  is, in fact, as limitedas Glass suggests.  On the other hand, the "essence" approachdoes  not  seem, ipso  facto, to guarantee  such  virtues  aspositive  desire and compassionate  engagement  any more thanthe other workings;  indeed, it often has been argued  that aconcept  like  Tathaagatagarbha, misunderstood, may  actuallylead    to   complacency,   or   even    amorality,   therebyshort-circuiting  the "logic  of subtraction"  and inhibitingthe  development  (or, more  properly, the  discovery) of thepositive   emotions   and   ethical   values   required   forenlightenment.  Like postmodern  philosophers, Buddhists  mayface  very  real  conceptual  and psychological  problems  intrying to reconcile deconstrucion with commitment, detachmentwith love, or nonfoundationalism with ethical judgment ¢w butthe claim that one perspective  solves  these problems  whereothers do not is highly debatable.p.360    Although  there  are ways in which I find Glass'  methodsproblematic  and his argument undeveloped or unconvincing, itmust  be reiterated  that  the perspective  from  which  I amapproaching  his analysis  is essentially  Buddhological, andopen to the counterargument  that the standards of historicaland  terminological   fidelity   that   I  am  applying   areinappropriate  in evaluating  a work  of creative, postmoderntheology.  There, it priate in evaluating a work of creative,postmodern theology. There, it might be argued, it is perhapsless important  to adopt a reading  of tradition  "only if itcan be consistently supported through direct reference to thetext" than to search imaginatively  for a reading that merely"does not...  contradict  the text" (p.  83) and opens for uspossiblities  of interpretation  that speak profoundly to ourown situation.  The latter  is the style  of reading  used bytheologians  whom Glass admires.  such as Mark Taylor, and itis, in general, Glass' style as well.  To contrast  these twoways of interpreting  tradition, of course, implicates  Glass¢w and all of us ¢w in the problem of deciding how modern (orpostmodern) Buddhist "theology"ought  to be approached.  Whatare its  sources  of authority? How are they  determined? Howshould  they be utilized? What should  we make of differencesbetween  ways in which  we might  use Buddhist  texts and theways in which Asian Buddhists  traditionally  have used them?These  are  important  a priori  questions  for any "Buddhistconstructive philosophy";  it is clear that Glass has thoughtabout them, but his analysis  would have been more compellingif he had adddressed them more explicitly.    Nevertheless, Working Emptiness remains a book well worthreading   and   attempting    to   understand.    It   is   athought-provoking   and  highly  creative   contribution   tocontemporary  Buddhist  thought, which, whether  we agree  ordisagree  with  Glass'  methods  and  conclusions, stimulatesreflection  on the  ways  in which  scholars  and  philophersusually  have  understood   Buddhist  thought,  the  relationbetween  Buddhist  and Western  ideas, and the affective  andethical implications of the concept of emptiness. We only canhope that, in future  works, Glass  will  extend, deepen, andrefine the fascinating line of analysis he has begun here.

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