Posted by: PasserBy
Hi AEN,

Greg commented on Stian's A raw note on emptiness yesterday.  I like Stian's note and Greg's comments very much, they are all very insightful.   So just posted it here to share with readers.

Do go through it and share your thoughts.  Relate your experiences and insights about it.   Happy reading!
  

A raw note on emptiness:
Emptiness is not the way things are, because things are not any way at all. And that is emptiness.

The emptiness doctrine *do* explain the way things are, meaning the ontological status and essential nature of everything, but instead of asserting—as one might have expected—an actual way that things are, the doctrine questions being any which way.

A thing's 'being' is what it is regardless of anything else. It is what one would eventually find if one stripped something down to its bare minimum—the atomic (indivisible) core which ultimately identifies the thing.  The emptiness doctrine is a completely uncompromising critique of regarding 'being' like this—as intrinsic, inherent self-identity.

So, according to the emptiness doctrine, the way things really are is that they are not, in their final, inner-most nature or being, any which way. But this does not preclude things from being any particular way, only that they cannot *be* in a static, fixed, unchangeable or indivisible way.

Since we can not know the ultimate nature or being of something—because it has no such final identity—we can only know the thing in its ordinary, conventional appearance to us, and that IS what the thing "is".

Emptiness, while posing as some sort of ultimate nature or being or identity, is actually the dissolving of the notion of ultimate nature or being (noun), leaving only the functional, interpenetrating 'going-on' or 'verbing' of the universe.


Greg's comments:
I agree with a lot of the OP. But I also agree with some the others here that your "raw note" allows ultimacy in the door. Ultimacy and true nature are exactly what the emptiness teachings should critique.

Here is a close, logical look at it. From your OP:

"So, according to the emptiness doctrine, the way things really are is that they are not, in their final, inner-most nature or being, any which way."

The placement of the "NOT" turns out to be very important!

There is a subtle logical issue here that seems obscure, but which makes a big difference. The issue is between "external" or "verbally-bound" or non-presuppositional versus "internal," or "nominally-bound" or presuppositional negation.

Let's use an example. There are two ways (at least) of negating a simple sentence.

Let's say the sentence is:

X is f.

One way to negate it is:

X is -f.

The other way is:

-(X is f).  Or, "It's not the case that X is f."

A more concrete example:

(S1) "The number seven is yellow."

 How can we negate S1? There are several ways.

So here is one kind of negation. It is an internal, nominally bound, pressuppositional negation.  The "NOT" is _inside_ the sentence, modifying the noun or adjective:

(Internal negation of S1) "The number seven is NOT yellow (it is blue)."

Notice that this kind of negation maintains the assumption that the number seven has a color.

Here is the other kind of negation. It is external, verbally bound, non-presuppositional. The "NOT" modifies the overall verb of the sentence:

(External negation of S1) "It's not the case that the number seven is yellow (colors don't apply to it at all)."

OK, so back to Stian's OP:

(Sop) "So, according to the emptiness doctrine, the way things really are is that they are not, in their final, inner-most nature or being, any which way."

Stian's statement (Sop) should be an external negation. It should cancel our presuppostions about things having natures at all. Instead (Sop) is an internal negation. It maintains the presupposition that things have a final, inner-most nature - it just says that the final nature is not what we thought. But in the emptiness teaching, this is what needs to go. What needs to get critiqued is the VERY IDEA of a final, inner-most nature. The very idea makes no sense.

Here is one possible "external" rephrasing of Stian's sentence, which cancels what should be cancelled:

(Gop) "So, according to the emptiness teachings, there is no way that things really are. The very idea of a final, innher-most nature is incoherent." Of course we need both kinds of negation. But we should be careful about where we are retaining presuppositions that we want to refute.....
1 Response
  1. Anurag Jain Says:

    Nothing is...........Everything is :-)