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Merleau-Ponty and Buddhism

Edited by Jin Y. Park and Gereon Kopf - Contributions by Michael P. Berman; David Brubaker; Gerald Cipriani; Jay Goulding; Hyong-hyo Kim; Gereon Kopf; Glen A. Mazis; Shigenori Nagatomo; Carl Olson; Bernard Stevens; Funaki Toru and Brook Ziporyn

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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Lexington Books
Pages: 350Size: 6 1/2 x 9 1/2
978-0-7391-1825-2 • Hardback • August 2009 • $100.00 • (£59.95)
978-0-7391-1826-9 • Paperback • October 2010 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
978-0-7391-4077-2 • eBook • August 2009 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Jin Y. Park is associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University.

Gereon Kopf is associate professor of religion at Luther College.
Part 1 Introduction: Philosophy, Non-Philosophy, and Comparative Philosophy
Part 2 Part One: Body: Self in the Flesh of the World
Chapter 3 Chapter 1. Merleau-Pontean "Flesh" and its Buddhist Interpretation
Chapter 4 Chapter 2. Merleau-Pontean Body and the Buddhist Theory of Five Skandhas: Yasuo Yuasa's Philosophy of the Body
Chapter 5 Chapter 3. How the Tree Sees Me: Sentience and Insentience in Tiantai and Merleau-Ponty
Chapter 6 Chapter 4. The Human Body as a Boundary Symbol: A Comparison of Merleau-Ponty and Dogen
Part 7 Part Two: Space: Thinking and Being in the Chiasm of Visibility
Chapter 8 Chapter 5. The Double: Merleau-Ponty and Chinul on Thinking and Questioning
Chapter 9 Chapter 6. The Notion of the "Words that Speak the Truth" in Merleau-Ponty and Shinran
Chapter 10 Chapter 7. Self in Space: Nishida Philosophy and Phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Chapter 11 Chapter 8. Merleau-Ponty, Cézanne, and the Basho of the Visible
Chapter 12 Chapter 9. "Place of Nothingness" and the Dimension of Visibility: Nishida, Merleau-Ponty, and Huineng
Part 13 Part Three: The World: Ethics of Emptiness, Ethics of the Flesh
Chapter 14 Chapter 10. The Flesh of the World is Emptiness and Emptiness is the Flesh of the World, and their Ethical Implications
Chapter 15 Chapter 11. Merleau-Ponty and Nagarjuna: Enlightenment, Ethics, and Politics
Chapter 16 Chapter 12. Ki-Energy: Underpinning Religion and Ethics
Chapter 17 Chapter 13. Merleau-Ponty and Asian Philosophy: The Double Walk of Buddhism and Daoism
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, 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, Seattle University

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