Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
I’m having some fun as a new guest editor over at Non-Buddhist. This recent post by Patrick Jennings, “Another Stab at the Non“, provoked some discussion, which led to my new take on the “emptiness” conundrum: Nontology.
Nontology: No presumption is made about the existence or non-existence of anything. ‘Ontology’ presumes the existence of something; there is “something” which has an origin. Nontology does not presume the existence of non-existence of anything coming into being or not. Nontology is cognizant of the possibility of existence, but makes no presumptions or decisions about it.
This is another way to arrive at the same place as Nargarjuna’s shunyata, which he achieves through Indian philosophy. In Nargarjuna’s argument, one cannot say that something exists, does not exist, is both existent and non-existent, is neither existent nor non-existent. I get to the same place through Western philosophy, using a strange new variant, Francois Laruelle’s “non-philosophy”, which was used as the basic argument for “non-Buddhism.” In simplest terms, “non-philosophy” says that any statement we make that we call “philosophy” is nothing more than a decision, a preconscious choice that something is “true” or “makes sense.” Non-philosophy challenges all such decisions. Non-Buddhism, which is derived from this premise, says that every statement, belief or practice that we make about Buddhism is also a decision, a preconscious choice about what seems “true”.
From Non-Buddhist philosophy, I spun off ‘nontology’, as the non-decision about the existence of anything. For the westerner, it is perhaps a more direct path to get to the same place of not making any assumptions about existence at all. Nontology gets me there faster and cleaner.