Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Process philosophy: Buddha, Nagarjuna and Whitehead

Here's a golden oldie by Thomas J. McFarlane from 15 years ago, which is well worth revisiting.  Nagarjuna and Whitehead were the most influential exponents of Process Philosophy in the Buddhist and Western traditions respectively, and the convergence of their views is quite remarkable...


Process and Emptiness:  A Comparison of Whitehead’s Process Philosophy and Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy
Spring 2000
Revised and edited for the web March 2004

ABSTRACT: Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy is compared with Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. After briefly introducing the philosophies of Whitehead and Buddhism, some similarities between them are examined. The primary areas of convergence are:

(1) Impermanence and process as fundamental aspects of reality
(2) The emptiness and lack of substance of things
(3) The relational and dependent nature of things
(4) The notion of ignorance and mistaken perception
(5) The possibility of freedom from ignorance and mistaken perception
(6) The emphasis on subjective and experiential aspects of reality
(7) The fundamental limitations of language and philosophical systems in characterizing reality.

The paper concludes with a discussion of an important distinguishing feature of Buddhist philosophy, namely, its dialectical method of criticism.


Read more at Buddhist Philosophy

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