(1997) Man and World 30 (4).

Dual and non-dual ontology in Sartre and mahāyāna buddhism

Derek K. Heyman

pp. 431-443

This paper examines Sartre's dualistic ontology in the light of the non-duality asserted by Mahāyāna Buddhism. In the first section, I show, against the objection of Hazel E. Barnes, that Sartre and Buddhism have comparable theories of consciousness. The second section discusses Steven W. Laycock's use of Zen philosophy to solve the Sartrean metaphysical problem regarding the origin of being for-itself. This solution involves rejecting the ontological priority of being in-itself in favor of the Buddhist understanding of interdependent origination (pratītya-samutpāda) and emptiness (śūnyatā). Finally, I explain how this aspect of Buddhist thought is consistent with Sartre's ontology, thus making an acceptable solution. This consistency is possible if we understand Sartre's ontology as provisionally true in a sense gleaned from the Mādhyamika and Yogācāra schools of Indian Buddhism, which were influential to the formation of Zen philosophy.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1023/A:1004276714831

Full citation:

Heyman, D. K. (1997). Dual and non-dual ontology in Sartre and mahāyāna buddhism. Man and World 30 (4), pp. 431-443.

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