This lecture examines the practice-oriented background and philosophical significance of emptiness, negation, and skepticism in the Mādhyamaka Buddhism of Nāgārjuna and Sengzhao. It reconstructs several strands in the transition from Indian to early Chinese Mādhyamaka discourses, illustrating the centrality of diagnostic and therapeutic practices of linguistic and experiential emptying, non-implicative negation, and the “skeptical” suspension of assertion.
Emptiness and negation achieved prominence in early Mādhyamaka as ways of overcoming by pausing ontological and meontological propositions and perspectives. Eric S. Nelson will examine how negation, non-assertion, and withholding assent have distinctive functions in these two forms of Mādhyamaka.
Eric S. Nelson is Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Science and Professor of Philosophy at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He works on Chinese, German, and Jewish philosophy. He is the author of Daoism and Environmental Philosophy (2020), Levinas, Adorno, and the Ethics of the Material Other (2020), and Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy in Early Twentieth-Century German Thought (2017). He has published over seventy-five articles and book chapters and is the editor of Interpreting Dilthey: Critical Essays (2019).