Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy: Two Paths of Liberation from the Representational Mode of Thinking

SUNY Press
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This book examines and compares the philosophical positions of various postmodern thinkers and Zen Buddhist philosophers on: language and play; modes of thinking; skepticism and doubt; self and other; time and death; nihilism and metaphysics; and the conception of the end of philosophy. The Zen thinkers dealt with are Dogen and Nishitani, and the Western thinkers are Derrida, Lacan, Heidegger, Lyotard, Foucault, Deleuze and Guatarri, Kristeva, and Levinas. Although each share similar notions concerning the shortcomings of representational thinking, major differences still exist. By clarifying these differences, Olson counters the tendency to overtly assert or covertly imply that postmodern and Zen philosophies are moving in the same direction. Some postmodern thinkers and Zen Buddhist philosophers share common philosophical ground with regard to a mutual philosophical attack and attempt to overcome the perceived shortcomings of the representational mode of thinking that conceives of the mind like a mirror and assumes a correspondence between appearance and reality that is supported by a metaphysical structure.
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About the author

Carl Olson is Professor of Religious Studies at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. His previous books include The Indian Renouncer and Postmodern Poison: A Cross-Cultural Encounter and The Theology and Philosophy of Eliade: A Search for the Centre.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Pages
321
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ISBN
9780791492215
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Epistemology
Philosophy / Zen
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Terrific. .The dialogues are great fun. I sat back and enjoyed it."---William H. Shaw "Total devastation. Splendid book. An absolutely first class piece of work."---Antony Flew Some say we can't really know anything, unless we first irrationally accept some things blindly on faith. Is that true? And what is truth, anyway? Is objective truth a bankrupt notion, as postmodernists say? They also say observations are always theory-laden and everything is socially constructed, "including giraffes." Of course, this means "all knowledge is essentially political," and "science is best seen as a socially constructed discourse that legitimates its power by presenting itself as truth." Worse than that, "there is no procedure called 'turning to the facts'.there is no procedure of 'justification in light of the facts' which can be opposed to consilience of one's own opinion with those of others." Rather, "the notion of accurate representation is simply an automatic and empty compliment we pay to beliefs which help us to do what we want to do." Unfortunately, postmodernists didn't get that way on account of ignoring the teachings of the Philosophy department, but on account of sincerely imbibing them. The terrible truth is that postmodernism is what happens when somebody who believes what he reads, reads the Philosophy canon. Avoiding technical jargon and presented in the form of a spirited dialogue between a professor and student, The Slightest Philosophy attacks what it sees as the real roots of postmodernism: the skeptical/anti-realist rut philosophy has been in since the eighteenth century. Opposing the canon from a position of nave realism, the book's refutation of epistemological skepticismapplies a method usually called abduction, or argument to the best explanation. The unexpected power of this pedestrian approach becomes apparent when it finally proves its mettle against philosophy's scariest monsters, including the Cartesian Demon, the Brain in the Vat, the Problem of the Criterion, and Hume's Riddle of Induction. Along the way, The Slightest Philosophy also provides a snappy introduction to the central controversies in philosophy. Not only will it make you laugh, it also renders compelling the unavoidable questions too often made to seem obscure. Rarely has epistemology seemed so accessible as in the hands of a writer Antony Flew called "never dull."
Modern thought, finally free from premodern excesses of belief, immediately fell prey to excesses of doubt. This book points toward a postmodern approach to knowing that moves beyond the tired choice between dogma and skepticism. Its key deconstructive aim is to help contemporary philosophers see that their paralyzing modern “epistemological gap” is a myth. Its positive outcome, however, reverses the identification of “postmodern” with deconstruction rather than construction, with the “end of philosophy” rather than renewal in philosophy.

Knowing and Value begins by tracing how we got here, and argues that much of our modern dilemma rests on choices that might have gone otherwise. Key value judgments underlying Plato’s and Aristotle’s epistemological norms, which still tend to govern our theories of knowledge, are clarified. Next the value-laden sources of premodern attitudes toward knowing are exposed by showing how the Christian synthesis of faith and reason was at first built by medieval Platonists and Aristotelians, then razed by premodern nominalists. This diagnostic account concludes with a close look at how modernity, from Hobbes and Descartes to Kant, designed its own epistemological trap by rejecting some premodern values, while accepting others.

The book also examines the principal ways moderns (positivists, idealists, existentialists, and pragmatists) have tried to cope with the supposed epistemological gap—each without success, but with every failure leaving resources for rebuilding.

In a constructive climax, the book shows how an ecological worldview, emphasizing real relations (the view proposed in its predecessor volume, Being and Value) can heal the needless ruptures on which modern epistemic maladies depend. A reformed account of human experience confronts modern skepticism head-on; a fresh “process” approach to language and thinking is proposed; and finally, a postmodern, pluralist view of theories and truth is offered under a guiding aesthetic metaphor: “Knowing is the music of thought.”
From the Copernican revolution of Immanuel Kant to the cognitive mapping of Fredric Jameson to the postcolonial politics of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, representation has been posed as both indispensable and impossible. In his pathbreaking work, The Abyss of Representation, George Hartley traces the development of this impossible necessity from its German Idealist roots through Marxist theories of postmodernism, arguing that in this period of skepticism and globalization we are still grappling with issues brought forth during the age of romanticism and revolution. Hartley shows how the modern problem of representation—the inability of a figure to do justice to its object—still haunts today's postmodern philosophy and politics. He reveals the ways the sublime abyss that opened up in Idealist epistemology and aesthetics resurfaces in recent theories of ideology and subjectivity.

Hartley describes how modern theory from Kant through Lacan attempts to come to terms with the sublime limits of representation and how ideas developed with the Marxist tradition—such as Marx’s theory of value, Althusser’s theory of structural causality, or Zizek’s theory of ideological enjoyment—can be seen as variants of the sublime object. Representation, he argues, is ultimately a political problem. Whether that problem be a Marxist representation of global capitalism, a deconstructive representation of subaltern women, or a Chicano self-representation opposing Anglo-American images of Mexican Americans, it is only through this grappling with the negative, Hartley explains, that a Marxist theory of postmodernism can begin to address the challenges of global capitalism and resurgent imperialism.

This powerful and timely book, written by a former Fundamentalist, is a thorough critique of the popular Fundamentalist notion of the “Rapture”—the belief that Christians will be removed from earth prior to a time of Tribulation and the Second Coming. It examines the theological, historical, and Biblical basis for “premillennial dispensationalism”, the belief system based around the Rapture, and popularized in the best-selling Left Behind books and taught by “Bible prophecy” writers Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, and many others.

Written for both the lay person and the serious student, this book combines an engaging, popular approach with detailed footnotes and exhaustive research. Beginning with the big picture, it focuses first on key concepts such as eschatology, the Parousia, and the relationship between the Kingdom and the Church. It then examines the Book of Revelation, providing insights into the nature and purpose of that difficult, final book of the Bible. Another chapter looks at the concept of the “millennium” and how it has been understood by various Christians over the centuries. Olson then shows how Left Behind creator LaHaye’s many works on “Bible prophecy” are filled with attacks on Catholicism, and often rely on sensationalism, shaky scholarship, and subjective interpretations of Scripture

Olson, a former dispensationalist who now edits Envoy magazine, also presents a history of apocalyptic belief and theology, beginning with the Early Church Fathers and including the Montanists, St. Augustine, Joachim of Fiore, the Protestant Reformers, and the American Puritans. He shows how John Nelson Darby, an ex-Anglican priest, developed the premillennial dispensationalist system, which hinges on the Rapture, in the 1830s and how Darby relied upon faulty assumptions about Jesus Christ, the Church, and the Bible.

The second part of the book, “A Catholic Critique of Dispensationalism,” focuses on three important topics: the relationship between Israel, the Church, and the Kingdom; the interpretation of Scripture; and the nature of the Rapture event. Filled with a wealth of information drawn from both Protestant and Catholic sources, this section provides a complete rebuttal to the premillennial dispensationalist system and the “left behind” theology. The book concludes with a reflection on the Catholic understanding of the end times, salvation history, and the final judgement. Glossaries of key persons and terms are also included.

A strong, but fair, critique of a dangerous and popular belief, Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”? provides Catholics and Protestants, lay people and clergy, and students and scholars with important answers and information about the roots and meaning of the “Rapture”.

During the nineteenth century, the colonial Straits Settlements of Singapore, Penang, and Melaka were established as free ports of British trade in Southeast Asia and proved attractive to large numbers of regional migrants. Following the abolishment of slavery in 1833, the Straits government transported convicts from the East India Company s Indian presidencies to the settlements as a source of inexpensive labor. The prison became the primary experimental site for the colonial plural society and convicts were graduated by race and the labor needed for urban construction. Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes investigates how a political system aimed at managing ethnic communities in the larger material context of the colonial urban project was first imagined and tested through the physical segregation of the colonial prison. It relates the story of a city, Singapore, and a contemporary city-state whose plural society has its origins in these historical divisions.

A description of the evolution of the ideal plan for a plural city across the three settlements is followed by a detailed look at Singapore s colonial prison. Chapters trace the prison s development and its dissolution across the urban landscape through the penal labor system. The author demonstrates the way in which racial politics were inscribed spatially in the division of penal facilities and how the map of the city was reconfigured through convict labor. Later chapters describe penal resistance first through intimate stories of penal life and then through a discussion of organized resistance in festival riots. Eventually, the plural city ideal collapsed into the hegemonic urban form of the citadel, where a quite different military vision of the city became evident.

Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes is a fascinating and thoroughly original study in urban history and the making of multiethnic society in Singapore. It will compel readers to rethink the ways in which colonial urban history, postcolonial urbanism, and governance have been theorized by scholars and represented by governments.

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"A teacher is never a giver of truth—he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself. A good teacher is merely a catalyst."—Bruce Lee

Within the pages of Striking Thoughts, you will find the secrets of Bruce Lee's incredible success— as an actor, martial artist, and inspiration to the world. Consisting of eight sections, Striking Thoughts covers 72 topics and 825 aphorisms—from spirituality to personal liberation and from family life to filmmaking—all of which Bruce lived by.

His ideas helped energize his life and career and made it possible for him to live a happy and assured life, overcoming challenging obstacles with seeming ease. His ideas also inspired his family, friends, students, and colleagues to achieve success in their own lives and this personal collection will help you in your journey too.

Sections include:On First Principles—including life, existence, time, and deathOn Being Human—including the mind, happiness, fear, and dreamsOn Matters of Existence—health, love, marriage, raising children, ethics, racism, and adversityOn Achievement—work, goals, faith, success, money, and fameOn Art and Artists—art, filmmaking, and actingOn Personal Liberation—conditioning, Zen Buddhism, meditation, and freedomOn the Process of Becoming—self-actualization, self-help, self-expression, and growthOn Ultimate (Final) Principles—Yin-yang, totality, Tao, and the truth This Bruce Lee Book is part of the Bruce Lee Library which also features:Bruce Lee: The Celebrated Life of the Golden DragonBruce Lee: The Tao of Gung FuBruce Lee: Artist of LifeBruce Lee: Letters of the DragonBruce Lee: The Art of Expressing the Human BodyBruce Lee: Jeet Kune Do
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