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Nothing transcended: An examination of the metaphysical implications of interdependence

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Shimeld, J (2012) Nothing transcended: An examination of the metaphysical implications of interdependence. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Recent debate has questioned the validity of Zen as a school of Buddhism, claiming that the
characteristic justification of apparently immoral acts by 'enlightened' individuals cannot be
reconciled with the Buddhist eight-fold path, which emphasises 'right' actions and states of
mind. To simply dismiss Zen as deviant, however, ignores the ramifications of this problem
for Buddhists more widely and overlooks parallels with the contemporary problem of
nihilism.
This thesis investigates the philosophical ground ofthe 'Zen moral problem' in 'emptiness'
(sDnyato), through the construction of a metaphysical framework based upon the related
Mahayana Buddhist principle: 'interdependence' (pratJtyasamutpoda). In order to critique
the validity of Zen as philosophy, I am guided by the goal of the Buddhist soteriological
project; the promise of enlightenment in order to overcome the experience of suffering. If a
framework built up from base principles of Zen thought is capable of explaining and
maintaining the Buddhist goal, then we must still determine how the moral problem arises.
It is important to note that this thesis does not represent a Buddhist position, in a textual
sense; instead it is a philosophical examination of Buddhist principles - addressing the
problems that motivated specific historical positions. Rather than an analysis of these
historical positions as such, the current work takes them as responses to a common
concern, and makes use of them as critical examples. To this end the metaphysical
framework developed here is used to analyse those foundations in contemporary thought
which give rise to the moral problem.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Buddhism, metaphysics, morality, Zen, emptiness, interdependence, nihilism
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Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2012 04:21
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:53
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