Beyond Emptiness: A Critical Review

Halla Kim

Abstract


In his recent book, Jae-Seong Lee argues that not only Eastern thoughts but also Western philosophy lead us to transcend our ordinary, binary, reflexive thought and become one with the truth, namely, Emptiness, or the true self. But this aspect has not been thoroughly considered in Western metaphysics. After considering Heidegger’s failure to get to the bottom of transcendence through his “Dasein,” Lee looks to the French postmodern ethicists, in particular, Levinas, in this regard. Just like the Mahayana Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna did almost two thousand years earlier, Lee suggests that Levinas too may have hit upon the insight that genuine subjectivity can be reached through an openness to the Other as the wholly exterior. Throughout the entire book, Jae-Seong Lee shows a strong interest in postmodern ethics, Daoism, Buddhism, theology, and literature, but in the end, he concludes that Buddhist philosophy, with its focus on Emptiness, would be the best approach to a merging of Eastern and Western Ways of thinking in our search for the ultimate and absolute. Finally, Lee suggests that the general philosophical theory he introduces and develops actually works for literary works including the Book of Job, Count Dracula and Frankenstein.


Keywords


Postmodern Ethics; Daoism; Buddhism; Levinas; Derrid; Deleuze; the Other; Emptiness (Śūnyatā); Buddha-nature; Seon (Zen/Chan); Gongan (koan); Nāgārjuna; Heidegger; Dasein; seated meditation

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