Where the soul pretends unification or the self fabricates a coherent identity, the genealogist sets out to study the beginning-numberless beginnings, whose faint traces and hints of color are readily seen by a historical eye. The analysis of descent permits the dissociation of the self, its recognition and displacement as an empty synthesis, in liberating a profusion of lost events. (Foucault: Nietzsche, Genealogy , History, 81. All quotes from Foucault are from the online version for free download below )
Foucault’s genealogical method offers a way of arriving at a thought of emptiness, anatman or non-self comparable with notions in contemporary and classical Buddhism. If one wanted to push thinking in the direction of a comprehension of what emptiness might mean, one already has to hand within western philosophy ideas equal in complexity and depth to anything found in Buddhism. Not that one should wilfully ignore “eastern” thought; we could, rather, bring Buddhist notions into proximity with comparable notions within the western tradition to test their viability, or to create out of the encounter a deeper, richer and more useful set of concepts. As Matthias has pointed out here, if European contemporary Buddhism is a thoroughly western invention, it would have become a different animal altogether if its progenitors had chosen to pursue the line of philosophical enquiry originating in Nietzsche and not in Karl Eugen Neumann.
Genealogy as a practice offers a way of furthering Non-Buddhist enquiry. Foucault’s extension of Neitzsche’s genealogical method and his work on power relations and “technologies of the self” are particularly relevant. His thinking on power as permeating all forms of relation is an addition, if not a challenge, to the Marxist understanding of power conditioned on the relation between class and mode of production and the exercise of state power on behalf of the capitalist class. Taking into account the centrality of Marxist ideas for the evolution of Non-Buddhism any challenge to or extension of such notions is apt. Continue reading
In a recent thread we had some scattered remarks about history as a backward projection of contemporary thought vs. genealogy.
Coincidentally Richard K. Payne publishes a text titled gimme hammers tongs & wedges: Hegelian stranglehold on the historiography of Buddhist thought. This too is about the problems of circular reasoning in historiography. We have this in a naïve way in X-Buddhism but on a more developed level we find it too in academic writing. Payne gives an example how Buddhist thinking is ‘invented’ today by a certain kind of reasoning which is called Hegelian Historiography. Again we find a seemingly linear and homogeneous flow of historical events which unfold step by step in a logical manner – as if history finds itself on some mysterious rail system called teleology.
In regard of this over all topic one should also remember what Walter Benjamin thought about his take on historical materialism: Every kind of historiography which develops a kind of linear and homogeneous narrative is a narrative written by those victorious. It systematically annihilates the accidents, the disruptive moments, the cruelties, the exploitations and appropriations, the colonizations of the victims, the theft or systematic destruction of their cultures and so on. With this in mind we have to remember that the making of X-Buddhism is to vast extents still just a western colonial exploitation and those writing and thinking on in the naïve manner Payne describes are the scribes of suppression.
Richard Kearney’s Anatheism, as it turns out, could be rather interesting thinking – a thinking, that is, which does not fall into the perdition of esoteric mysticism on one side nor does it vanishes into the house of mirrors where the surplus value scholar soliloquizes us to death.
Read more at Der Unbuddhist
Part of our frustration with recent discussion was that, as usual, participants studiously ignored the essential point which Non-Buddhism, following Non-philosophy, tries to make—an essential without which this site becomes a space for just any old form of philosophical, ideological or political speculation; or worse simply a forum for the exchange of opinion.
So let me define again the axiom on which we base our activities:
The Human-in-person makes philosophy. Philosophy, on the other hand, insists on reducing the Human-in-person to its predicate. Philosophy turns reality on its head.
What is non-Buddhism? Simply put it is a work on Buddhism. It tries to retrieve from Buddhism certain postulates and practices with liberatory potential for the individual and the collective. In doing so it makes these ideas and practices unrecognisable as Buddhist, although to anyone familiar with the Buddhist charism, they exude an unmistakably Buddhist aroma. Detached from the system of Buddhist postulation, however, they can no longer be rightly called Buddhist. They become material useful for anyone who wishes to creatively employ them in their day-to-day life. Continue reading
A talk has been published on Soundcloud by Matthew O’Connell and Stewart IdontKnowHisLastName: 2.2 Imperfect Buddha Podcast: the Dharma Overground gets enlightened & the non-Buddhist cause a stir. It is about some figures from so called Post Traditional Buddhism and the whole second part is a talk about the SNB project. That section begins at around 54:30 in the sound file.