Meaning and reality: a cross-traditional encounter

In Bo Mou R. Tiesze (ed.), Constructive Engagement of Analytic and Continental Approaches in Philosophy. Brill. pp. 199-220 (2013)
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(First paragraph.) Different views on the relation between phenomenal reality, the world as we consciously experience it, and noumenal reality, the world as it is independent from an experiencing subject, have different implications for a collection of interrelated issues of meaning and reality including aspects of metaphysics, the philosophy of language, and philosophical methodology. Exploring some of these implications, this paper compares and brings together analytic, continental, and Buddhist approaches, focusing on relevant aspects of the philosophy of Donald Davidson, Jacques Derrida, Dharmakīrti, and Dōgen. Prima facie, these philosophers have little in common, and indeed the differences are vast. Even in case of the two Western thinkers there is a fundamental difference between Davidson’s anti-dualist identification of phenomenal, experienced reality with the noumenal, real, external world on the one hand, and the bracketing or elimination of noumenal reality at the base of Derrida’s thought on the other, which lead to radically different ideas with regards to (the possibility and nature of) objectivity and our linguistic access to the real/external/noumenal world. Nevertheless, there are important similarities between Dharmakīrti’s theory of apoha and Davidson’s and Derrida’s theories of triangulation and différance respectively, and these similarities can be exploited to bridge some of the differences and attempt a constructive engagement.



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Lajos L. Brons
University of Groningen (PhD)

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