Naagaarjuna and deconstruction
By Ian W. Mabbett

Philosophy East and West
Volume 45, Number 2
pp. 203-225

(C) by University of Hawaii Press




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In July 1992, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party discarded its former icons Marx and Lenin and installed Naagaarjuna in their place. This all goes to show that the great sage and siddha revered in the lamaist tradition has something to say to an age when the old certainties, East and West, are being busily deconstructed.

    No doubt the former Communist Party was anxious to improve its image with the Mongolian Buddhist faithful, but it remains to be seen how successfully the doctrine of the void can be applied to the problems of falling production and soaring prices. Critics of Naagaarjuna might complain that a currency made of voidness must make little impression in the marketplace of economic reality. It is not hard to find a Western parallel: hostile critics of deconstruction like to ask, similarly, what this teaching has to do with the problems of the real world. Rather like Samuel Johnson kicking a large stone to demonstrate the alleged fatuity of Berkeley's subjective idealism, [1] they appeal to all-too-solid things like buses and large stones to emphasize the contrast between the real world and the flossy Gallic tissue of verbiage that they take deconstruction to be. [2]

    Naagaarjuna followed Marx eastward to Mongolia; deconstruction followed Berkeley westward to America. Indeed, as Jacques Derrida (who is certainly honored in America, if not in his own country) said, America is deconstruction. "L'Amerique, mais c'est la deconstruction." [3] As Berkeley said: "Westward the course of empire takes its way."

    Eastward and westward: opposites meet. Perhaps the apostle of the Middle Way and the prophet of infinite deferral have something in common.

    Naagaarjuna, the possibly second-century Mahaayaana Buddhist teacher who provided a foundation for the doctrine of the void, has been compared to most Western thinkers from Zeno to Wittgenstein. In principle, there is no reason why such comparisons should not often enough be illuminating. At all events, it is surely timely, since almost all other possible terms of comparison have been ransacked, that the void-making spells of the Maadhyamikas and the deconstructionists should be tested together. Of course, the tests must be conducted with extreme caution, for the spells are dangerous to their users. Naagaarjuna himself warned us: "Like a snake when it is not properly grasped, or a magical spell when it is not properly executed, voidness when it is not properly apprehended can be the ruin of a person of weak intelligence." [4]

    There have already been a few essays in the comparison. [5] In setting out to add to their number, I began with the belief that in the comparison, these two systems of thought from such different cultural environments



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must be radically incommensurable, and that the plotting of similarities could only be a jeu d'esprit. The further I advanced, however, the more genuinely significant the similarities seemed to be. In some important sense, it seemed that people like Jacques Derrida and people like Naagaarjuna are seeking to give form -- a self-referring and self-canceling form -- to the same vision. In a sense, no doubt, the fundamental differences of worldview and intellectual purpose set them in different universes; yet the tracing of similarities is not just a game. In what follows, I seek to identify a number of areas of similarity, and to argue that in these areas the juxtaposition of deconstruction and Maadhyamaka allows us to recognize a type of vision that can, perhaps, be shared by widely different cultures.

    For the purposes of the comparison, some assumptions must be made. So far as deconstruction is concerned, the authority claimed for the characterizations to be offered lies in some of the writings of Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, Jonathan Culler, Barbara Johnson, and a few other scholars generally considered to be of the same persuasion.

    So far as the Madhyamaka philosophy of Naagaarjuna is concerned, the authority claimed for what follows lies primarily in my study of the Muulamadhyamakakaarikaas (with some account of other texts credibly attributed to the same author, principally the Vigrahavyaavartanii). Detailed justification of the interpretation of this philosophy must wait on a separate publication of the results of this study. [6] There has recently been much discussion of Naagaarjuna's philosophy, often showing a tendency to assimilate it to modern empirical ideas. David Kalupahana considers that the Kaarikaas offer essentially pragmatic arguments about the meaning of experience and deny the value of metaphysical inquiry into supposed realities or nonrealities that cannot be demonstrated. [7] Quite a few other scholars have taken the chief concern of Madhyamaka philosophy to be with validating the language of ordinary experience in one way or another, particularly in a Wittgensteinian way; but it is not clear that Wittgenstein would have accepted the views here attributed to him. [8]

    Clearly there is no room here, in comparing a particular view of deconstruction with a particular view of Madhyamaka, to justify and document properly the view of Madhyamaka adopted. I shall have to give short shrift to some of the authorities often cited in philosophical discussion. The interpretation of Naagaarjuna's thought that I adopt is not influenced by those who interpret it as pragmatic or empirical, but draws support at various points from some other scholars who have made close textual studies -- for example, J. W. de Long, [9] D. Ruegg, [10] and Jacques May [11] -- although no identity is claimed for my interpretation with all of theirs.

    The assumption I make here is that Naagaarjuna's teaching was



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antimetaphysical in one sense but not in another. He did consider it possible to say important things about metaphysics, and he engaged in metaphysical discussion; he believed, not that metaphysical arguments are without practical value, but that they can be used to dismantle any metaphysical claim about the existence or nonexistence of any particular thing alleged to be real; such claims conceal contradictions (specifically, in Husserl's sense, Widersinnigkeit). [12] This demolition of categories was carried out in the name of rational analysis, not intuition or practical utility. Naagaarjuna certainly believed in the overriding importance of Buddhist cultivation, bhaavanaa, to which rational analysis ultimately was only an accessory. However, this should not blind us to the rational character of his philosophical writing, which must be judged by the standards appropriate to its purposes.

    Here, then, is a characterization of the various ways in which Naagaarjuna's dismantling of concept-reifying views can be compared to that of the deconstructionists.

    Both avoid any claim about a determinate reality. Naagaarjuna insists that, in arguing that all alleged real things are void, he is nevertheless advancing no dogma of his own. He is committed to no doctrine or systematic belief about reality (d.r.s.ti) . The method that he follows in criticizing any d.r.s.ti is not to advance some argument of his own against it; instead, he proceeds by putting himself into his opponent's sandals and setting them going in order to show how the opponent's argument works. The sandals march straight over the edge of a cliff. Essentially, his method is the reductio ad absurdum, which in Madhyamaka is regarded not as an argument different from the one which it exposes but as the same, recast in a form that allows us to see its absurdity.

    In the Vigrahavyaavartanii, he confronts squarely the objection that he is contradicting himself when he proclaims the voidness of all things, including his own claim that all is void. This is not a contradiction, he maintains. Something unreal or false may have its unreality or falseness exposed by something which is itself unreal or false. We may imagine a puppet show in which one puppet tears apart another, revealing it to be just a puppet, not a sentient being.

Suppose that a person, artificially created, should do away with another artificial person; or that a magic man should do away with another man created by his own magic (svamayayaa). Of the same nature would be this negation. [13]

    Though it is a commonly held view, the notion that Naagaarjuna's 'voidness' means either 'nonexistence' or 'falsity' must be rejected; it is easy to show, from the Vigrahavyaavartanii, that by 'void' Naagaarjuna did not mean 'nonexistent'. What is void is unreal, lacking substance; it is not exactly existent (being unreal) and not exactly nonexistent (being manifest, however delusively). An unreal figure (a robot, or a phantom,



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or a figure seen in a dream) may utter a true statement; similarly, though all things are void including the utterance of the teaching of voidness, this utterance can serve as the vehicle for truth. [14]

    It has often been debated whether Naagaarjuna means to offer any views of his own at all. The view that he somehow manages to teach the doctrine of voidness without saying anything seems to rest upon a misunderstanding of some passages in the Kaarikaas and, especially, the Vigrahavyaavartanii. [15] What Madhyamaka teaches is that concepts, dogmas, and rational constructions of all sorts that presuppose the existence of things fail to capture the ultimate truth. The truth must always defeat any attempt to shut a door upon it, to give it a fixed and final shape. Those who make a dogma of voidness itself are making a grave mistake.

The vanquishers [the Buddhas of the past] have proclaimed that vacuity is the purgative of all views. But they declared those who field vacuity as (itself) a view to be incurable. [16]

    Like Naagaarjuna stepping into his opponent's sandals, the deconstructionists seek to take an object of thought and show it for what it is, allowing its inconsistencies to discredit it. They, like Naagaarjuna, expressly dissociate themselves from theories about things; or rather, in examining 'theory' in inverted commas, they seek to transcend theories without offering rival theories. [17]

    What ultimately legitimizes a proposition about a thing is the meaning it derives from its context. The context is constituted by an infinite play of differences that cannot be fixed and determined. Therefore, as soon as we seek to describe something, what happens is not exactly the utterance of a truth or an untruth; it is rather an arbitrary construction that cannot be attached to any absolute framework of objective fact. [18]

    Derrida is therefore seeking to elicit a sense of a reality that always steps aside from itself. One cannot speak of it, but one can point to the conceptual space it occupies that constitutes the condition of speaking about it, the possibility of a quest. [19]

    Both identify their teaching with what is really the case. All this looks uncommonly like the enlightenment, bodhi, which (perhaps rather than the too-much-discussed is at the heart of the Buddhist message. After the Buddha had transcended the realms of being and nonbeing, of consciousness and nonconsciousness, he entered the realm that is pure enlightenment, which is not a knowing of facts but a disappearance of ignorance, leaving only what is (in a special sense distinct from existence and nonexistence). What, then, is it that is? The early schools that Naagaarjuna criticized taught that from the standpoint of enlightenment the phenomenal world of change and appearances (sa.msaara) is unreal; what is real is the transcendent state of Mahaayaana thought, which Naagaarjuna as much as anybody mapped out, [20] declares on the other



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hand that sa.msaara and are conterminous. [21] There is no place or state separate from the world we know, with its chaos, its inconsistencies, its texts waiting to be deconstructed. does not introduce us to some new state; the difference is simply that enlightenment shows us all the old states (including the states of our 'selves') as they really are.

    The only word recognized in Buddhism as meaning anything like 'Buddhism' is dharma, which originally meant what holds thing up. It is the substratum, the foundation, the bedrock of reality. In Buddhism, dharma became the teaching, the doctrine, the bedrock of knowledge, the way taught by the Buddhas. In some of the early schools, the term came to signify the bedrock of apprehended reality -- dharmas were real things, which could be counted. In Mahaayaana Buddhism, the dharmakaaya was the body of the Buddha that is one with the ultimate truth, the ultimate reality. Hence we see ontological and epistemological categories doubling one another: the teaching or way taught by the Buddhas is also what is the case; it is the universe.

    In the case of the deconstructionists, likewise, what they do is often described as a way of recognizing what is, rather than a theory or view about it. Deconstruction, it has been said, is simply what is the case. If this is true, we must remember that (according to the deconstructionist approach) 'what is the case' is not a given reality, eternally different from specific alternatives that are not the case. 

Deconstruction is neither theory nor philosophy. It is neither a school nor a method. It is not even a discourse, nor an act, nor a practice. It is what happens, what is happening today. [22]

    Elsewhere, Derrida suggests that he might ("with a smile") say that deconstruction is America. It follows, then, that America is what happens, what is happening today. It is sa.msaara, a monster text ripe for deconstruction.

    But what sort of thing can deconstruction really be? It is not even a method, because, after all, methods use tools, which are real, solid entities, on the same plane of reality as the things upon which they are used, and different from them. Deconstruction, however, has no existence as an activity separate from the phenomena whose nature it recognizes, which it deconstructs. It is a nonthing in itself. Derrida acknowledges the criticism of John Searle that for twenty years deconstruction had not been in existence, had been a "mist hiding everything." He cordially agreed. "Yes, it has neither consistency nor existence." [23] Elsewhere he affirmed: "All sentences of the type: 'Deconstruction is X' a priori miss the point." [24] When we speak of deconstruction, then, there is no unique gives reality with which we can identify it apart from the phenomenal world itself, which is a text, a structure or seeming structure whose real nature can be



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recognized to be incapable of consistent characterization once it is seen for what it is. 'Reality', or all that can be recognized as such, is not something that comes to be known, having existed previously. It is a construction of knowing. The ghosts of Nietzsche and Heidegger breathe upon "what happens, what is happening today": knowledge, Wissen, constructs realities as part of the will to control. Deconstruction, which employs a special type of contemplative thought -- Denken, we might call it -- gives us the eye of insight to see that this is what is happening. It is really like the Buddha eye, which sees all things, and the enlightenment it promises is really like bodhi.

    According to both, things are not intrinsically real but exist only in relation to other things. Everything is relative. [25] This is a fundamental doctrine of Buddhism, maintained as an axiom (with important variations of detail) throughout Buddhist history. The Buddha sought to formulate this notion with the doctrine of 'dependent conproduction', pratiityasamutpaada, according to which things must be understood as arising in dependence upon each other. They are not absolutes; they are conditioned by causes. Given that one thing is present, another thing arises. Phenomena are not solid and permanent things; they are transient, appearing and disappearing in mutual dependence.

    Possibly, according to the realism of the abhidharma (philosophical dogma) schools whose influence Naagaarjuna was vigorously challenging, the interdependence of the phenomena of the world was seen as an interdependence of real, substantive entities, even if they were impermanent and subject to iron laws that ruled their brief life. Naagaarjuna, however, denied the intrinsic substantive reality of anything, however brief, and insisted that the very existence of any phenomenon is only relative. It is relative to other phenomena, which in turn exist only in relation to others.

    Two images will help to capture something of this notion of radical relativity. One is the paradoxical interdependence or things in an Escher drawing. For example, there is his famous picture Drawing Hands, which depicts one hand holding a pen to draw a picture of a second hand, which is holding a pen and drawing the first. Or there is the battlement staircase, where, impossibly, every step is below every other step (or, equally, above every other step), so that the men trudging up the staircase are always ascending yet always going in circles. Perhaps the images are not radical enough; for Naagaarjuna, nothing is real and solid -- not just its position but its very being belongs not to it but to something else.

    Again, consider the cliche scene of innumerable cartoon films in which some fleeing victim, running blindly and furiously, continues successfully to run for several paces through empty air even after going over the edge of a precipice. After a few moments of this paradoxical



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locomotion, the victim looks down, registers comical dismay, and only then plummets through the void. The Buddhist message is clear. The phenomenal world continues to hold us up only so long as we are ignorant. When we gain knowledge, we see that it is not solid and capable of holding us up. The solidity of things is an illusion: each thing is held up by something else, but if we analyze the chain of holding-up completely, we find that it is circular, and there is nothing holding up the whole world. When we see that, we understand the truth of the void. Things exist, but only relatively.

    Deconstruction, of course, is playing a different game by different rules. It is not a system of methodical thought pursuing a logically constructed program. [26] Nevertheless, it, too, ends up with radical relativity.

    This can be seen, preeminently, in the area of textual criticism, which is deconstruction's home ground. Jonathan Culler, for example, insists upon the essential relativity of text and reader, neither of them absolutely real, each taking on essential reality and definition from the other. He warns us against the two sorts of monism that can tempt those who one-sidedly emphasize either of two complementary themes in deconstructive criticism. [27]

    On the one hand, there is a temptation to treat the reader alone as real and the text essentially as an artifact of the reader's imagination -- it is not something fixed and absolute, but something recreated by each reading. This version of deconstructive criticism is a fallacy.

    On the other hand, there is a temptation to treat the text alone as real ("the author is dead"); [28] properly analyzed, it is seen not to conform to the facile expectations brought to it by the reader but to be inexorably alien. At every step it defeats the images of it produced by the reader's imagination, stepping back into absolute otherness. This version, tao, maintained exclusively, is also a heresy.

    What is needed, says Jonathan Culler, is a sort of dualism of text and reader, a relativity: neither is absolutely real, yet both are necessary. [29]

    This relativity is implicit in the dualism of context and meaning that runs through Derrida's thought and has already been alluded to above. Meaning must be supplied by a reconstitution of the context, but there is an infinite play of possibly appropriate context. One must take into account all aspects of a statement that could affect its meaning: language, allusions, stress on words, the identity of the speaker and the reader, and so forth. Derrida wrote that a 'text' is not really confined by any boundary, but is part of a total context. "This is my starting-point: no meaning can be determined out of context, but no context permits saturation." [30] There is no meaning without context and vice versa. Derrida's essay plays on the concept of the double bind.

    This relativity is particularly apparent also in the fundamental deconstructionist routine that can be used to dismantle any given system



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of symbols ('marks', as Derrida prefers to call them, rather than the earlier 'signs'), such as language itself. Within an integrated system of symbols, the essential reality of each element is actually constituted by its relation to the other elements, not by anything intrinsic to it, for in practice its structure can vary a great deal; only its relation to its context defines it. "No element," says Derrida, "can function as a sign without referring to another element which itself is not simply present. This interweaving results in each element... being constituted on the basis of the trace within it of the other elements of the chain or system." [31] Since the phenomenal world is created for us by our concepts, and our concepts by language, the world itself is composed of elements that exist only in relation to each other, like Escher's drawing hands or like the twelve nidaanas of Buddhist doctrine.

    Both criticize the logic of binary oppositions. Naagaarjuna's Muulamadhyamakakaarikaas are founded upon the analysis of a series of asymmetrical relationships between paired terms. Each chapter attacks one such pair, or a cluster of related pairs. Generally speaking, each exhibits the same logic: the relationship in question is examined and declared to entail a contradiction or a logical impossibility. In each case, one term (X) is primary; it is substantive, or prior, while the other (y) is modal, or dependent. Naagaarjuna explores the meaning of the claim that xRy, where R is the relationship that is conventionally held to obtain between the two terms, and seeks to demonstrate that the claim is essentially absurd. Ultimately, his method is one that could be used to discredit any existential proposition that attributes a particular predicate to a particular subject.

    The topics of his chapters show the repetitive technique. Naagaarjuna's juggernaut mows down sacred cow after sacred cow, leaving a shambles where the palace of Hiinayaana abhidharma philosophy once stood. Cause and effect, subject and verb, sensation and object of sense, entity and property, agent and action, thing that changes and successive states of that thing, earlier time and later time, Buddha and constituents of the Buddha's person, and even and life or becoming are all declared to be void, meaningless, mere empty expressions. [32]

    Where deconstruction is concerned, it is enough to recall that the dismantling of binary oppositions is a stock routine. Wherever a relationship is supposed to inhere between two terms, one of which is primary and the other dependent or secondary, this relationship is systematically dismantled; each term is examined and declared to be unintelligible except insofar as it turns into a form of the other term. If x and y show a tendency to turn into each other, more happens than that xRy is inverted; the whole system that underpins the relationship is shown to be unstable; there is no fixed structure of 'determinate categories to which we can appeal. In textual criticism, this logic is repeatedly applied to



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such pairs as reality and appearance, truth and fiction, signified and signifier, man and woman, speech and writing, system and event, and metaphor and metonymy. An interesting example is the case of cause and effect; Nietzsche suggested that the chronological relationship between them is inverted from the point of view of phenomenology; [33] Paul de Man and Jonathan Culler pursued a deconstructionist analysis of the relationship; [34] Jonathan Searle criticized this analysis. [35]

    Both celebrate emptiness. Voidness (`suunyataa) is Naagaarjuna's hallmark; he rides upon its back, as on a tiger, and his fame as a siddha, a perfect being endowed with supernatural faculties, must owe a great deal to his fearlessness in seeking to plumb the ultimate emptiness of the universe. The void is the protagonist of the major works that are most reliably attributable to him, the Muulamadhyamakakaarikaas and the Vigrahavyaavartanii.

    There are naturally problems in understanding his version of voidness, which can scarcely be addressed satisfactorily without undertaking an extended textual study. Earlier paragraphs here have broached some aspects of the concept: to be void is not to be either determinately existent or nonexistent, but to be, in a particular sense, relative. One problem in the analysis of 'voidness', surprisingly little analyzed, is in understanding exactly how Naagaarjuna seeks to prove this voidness. [36]

    At any rate, Naagaarjuna is quite clear that, however hard we look, we cannot discover any real things: "In no case are any things ever observed, whether they be (considered as) coming into existence autonomously, or derivatively, or both, or without any cause." [37]

    Here, 'things' translates bhaava, [38] which has the general sense of 'what arises or comes into being', 'phenomenon'. Why can we not observe things? Is it because they do not exist to be observed, or because our words or concepts are unequal to the task of identifying them accurately? This is one of the more contentious problems in the interpretation of the Kaarikaas; here there is room only to sketch a particular understanding of Naagaarjuna's teaching without detailed discussion of the views of others.

    Madhyamaka is not idealism, and it is not nihilism either. [39] The "four-cornered negation," to be described shortly, proves as much: it was as important to Naagaarjuna to deny that things are inexistent as it was to deny that they are existent. 'Not existing' is not an adequate characterization of what is void. The Madhyamaka void is supposed to be different from both existing and not existing; it designates the ontological status of a network of interdependent phenomena, rigorously governed by the rules of production but without the supporting framework of any first cause, divine power, or immanent absolute.

    This much is metaphysics, but there was a soteriological dimension to Mahaayana practice not emphasized in the Kaarikaas. The application of



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Madhyamaka's metaphysics to the quest for salvation is to be found in the cultivation of praj~naa, a Buddhist conception of insight or wisdom that is not specifically a mystical faculty but rather an intellectual intuition that can break down the barriers between the practitioner's consciousness and the ultimate truth (paramaartha). This insight is promoted by the proper realization of voidness. [40] The result of the insight can perhaps be described as a stepping aside from existence and inexistence; it is the place or condition that is presupposed by the possibility of either existing or not existing. [41]

    This teaching is important to the comparison with deconstruction, whose conception of 'absence' needs to be understood similarly: it is not a simple nihilism. Deconstructionists do not argue flatly that things do not exist. The deconstructionist move is, rather, to point to the impossibility of finding original and ultimate referents for our words; what words succeed in referring to consists of traces, and these traces are traces of traces.

    For Derrida, truth is not grasped by a mere negation. On the contrary, the right move employs an affirmation, albeit a paradoxical double affirmation: 'Yes, yes.' A statement, if it asserts something, contains an affirmation of it; but this affirmation can take on meaning only from a context -- that is, by being endorsed, validated, by something outside itself, and the endorsement or validation is a second affirmation, a mention that is not the same thing as a use. In principle, the series is endless: "Et le oui se relance a l'infini." [42]

    Our traditional worldview is said to be 'logocentric': words are used as if each one corresponded to some stable and accessible feature of the real universe. On the contrary (according to deconstructionist belief), rigorous analysis of the structures and relationships contained in any representation shows that they are inherently unstable and contradictory. The 'presence' of the things supposed to be designated by words or other signs always retreats. There is no presence or svabhaava; there is only absence, and the real nature of things we seek to define must remain forever indeterminate.

    It is a typical deconstructionist move to invert (albeit only provisionally, on the way to deconstruction) the relationship between archetype and ectype, origin and derivation. Origins and archetypes are, in the 'logocentric' tradition, supposed to be actually existent determinate things, but they turn out on analysis to be constructions after the event (vij~naptimaatra, Naagaarjuna would call them -- mere verbal constructs), accessible only indirectly, and at a remove, through the derivations and ectypes that come to supplement them or transmit their effects. Thus, things are known only through the verbal conceptions with which we seek to pin them down. These conceptions are supposed to be dependent upon the alleged realities which they represent, but in fact the con-



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ceptions are all we have; the realities are absent. Where are they? All we can say is that they can never be tied down to a place; they are known only by their effects. Hence the principle (though it is really only a provisional formulation) that there are only representations; the thing represented cannot be definitively identified. Often quoted is Jacques Derrida's saying: "II n'y a pas de hors-texte." [43] A page later in Of Grammatology, he writes (in G. Spivak's translation): "There has never been anything but writing; there have never been anything but supplements, substitutive significations which could only come forth in a chain of differential references, the 'real' supervening, and being added only while taking on meaning from a trace and from an invocation of the supplement, etc." [44] A previous reader of the library copy in which I read this had added his own exasperated supplement in the margin: "We are all figments of J. D.'s imagination. Solipsist ad nauseam. Real author, real reader, not you, not me, just HIM." This is not fair to Derrida, for whom the concept of us or him is just as much an unwarranted logocentric hypostatization as anything else.

    Both use the same four-cornered logic. This is an Indian term, designating the tetralemma (catu.sko.ti) by which it is shown that a given concept can have no fixed or determinate referent in reality. It is an extension of the simple dilemma, which succeeds in showing that there can be no such thing as a subject S if it is known that S with predicate P is impossible and also that S without P is impossible. The Indian tetralemma, part of the armory of Buddhist skepticism, is more thorough. It negates four possibilities: that there can be S with P, that there can be S without P, that there can be S both with and without P, and that there can be S neither with nor without P.

    There has been a great deal of discussion of Nagarjuna's use of the catu.sko.ti from the point of view of logic. [45] It is an important part of his stock demonstration of the voidness of things, which can figure as subjects in no sentences.

    Without attempting to display the actual logic of his attempted demonstration of the voidness of all things, we can review the pattern in its typical form as Naagaarjuna deploys it time and time again in the Kaarikaas to demonstrate the inconsistency of logocentric conceptions.

    The technique takes the conception that is to be rendered void and shows step by step that its subject is impossible. Let us call its subject S and its predicate P. This formula, it will be noticed, can be used to render unintelligible any statement whatsoever about any alleged real entity if it can be used to destroy anything at all. (' exists', 'Buddhas have taught' -- all is grist to the mill.)

    In the first place, Naagaarjuna demonstrates that S cannot be without P, because by definition S is with P. This was taken as the premise. To claim that S lacks P would be contradictory. It is worth the observation



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that Naagaarjuna is not here (or anywhere else, despite the claims sometimes made) introducing a new three-valued logic as a part of his method. His logic is here quite conventional. [46]

    In the second place, Naagaarjuna argues that S cannot be with P, because this involves doubling S (a sort of dedoublement). In his paradigm chapter on movement, for example, he says that the locus of a movement cannot be characterized by moving because this would entail two movements, and therefore two movers (gantaarau), [47] which is false by definition -- the discussion started with the case of just one mover. The distinctive method by which he reaches this result can be passed over here, but it may be noticed again that, given the result, the treatment of it follows conventional logic: if there must be two movers, this contradicts the premise and is therefore false if the premise is true.

    In the third place, if S cannot be without P and if S cannot be with P, it follows that S cannot be both with and without P.

    In the fourth place, S can be neither with nor without P, as this is absurd. Throughout, Naagaarjuna is appealing to the normal rules of logic.

    The avowed technique of Madhyamaka, then, is to show by the use of the "four-cornered" logic that there can be no statement about a determinate subject S made by applying the predicate P.

    There is a real similarity in deconstruction, which likewise seeks to allow the internal inconsistency of any 'logocentric' statement to reveal itself. David Lehman points out that in seeking to demonstrate that a conception X is contradictory, deconstruction is neither affirming nor denying X -- it is, rather, seeking to show that X escapes both affirmation and denial. [48] Barbara Johnson wrote: "instead of a simple 'either/or' structure, deconstruction attempts to elaborate a discourse that says neither 'either/or' nor 'both/and' nor even 'neither/nor', while at the same time not abandoning these logics either." [49]

    Is this to propose for deconstruction a new set of rules of logic, in which the middle between affirmation and denial is allowed in? Probably not. As with Madhyamaka, the answer seems to be that, where contradictory statements appear, they do not reflect a new sort of logic that is adopted to analyze statements. Normal logic is used to analyze statements. The statements are allowed to discredit themselves by their own rules. However, when the discrediting is achieved, this analysis leads to the conclusion that the realities to which the statements ostensibly refer are indeterminate. At this point, a variety of statements, contradictory or otherwise, are seen to be as good or bad as each other.

    A careful examination of Barbara Johnson's options will show that deconstruction is credited with, precisely, the technique of the catu.sko.ti. The matter is clinched by the words of Derrida himself: "Every time I say: X is neither this nor that, neither the contrary of this nor that, neither the simple neutralization of this nor of that with which it has nothing in



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common, being absolutely heterogeneous to or incommensurable with them, I would start to speak of God." [50] On this point, no more need be said.

    Both dismantle the concept of the self 'Nonself' (anaatman) is a traditional and fundamental Buddhist doctrine. There has always been room for debate about the meaning of anaatma as it is presented in the canonical texts; these deny the identification of the self with any of five supposed constituents of personality severally, but one can still speculate that it might be identical with something else. On the other hand, the question of the fate of the self is one of the questions claimed elsewhere in the scriptures to have been declared by the Buddha to be unprofitable and not to be explained. [51] To ask such questions is already to miss the point. The truth comes in the space before the possibility of asking arises.

    There is no particular difficulty about 'nonself' for Naagaarjuna. [52] AAtma, self, is like any other concept that identifies and constructs seeming solid realities in the world. It is void, indeterminate. The constituents of the self are merely prapa~nca, projections. Niv.rttam abhidhaatavya.m, niv.rtta's cittagocara.h [53] -- what is to be asserted ceases, the mind-field ceases. What is this 'ceasing'? Perhaps it is a sort of absence, but not a nonexistence; both self and not-self are provisional teachings; actually there is not self or not-self; nor are there both together, nor neither one. [54]

    This resembles deconstruction insofar as the latter denies the validity of the logocentric concept of 'self' as the designation of a knowable identifiable entity. The concept of the self, author or reader, can be deconstructed like any other. We find the relationship between the writing or reading self and language falling prey to the same juggernaut as other binary oppositions. Ostensibly, the self is the given reality, the substance, and language is its mode; but, being analyzed, language turns out to be (provisionally) what is given, indeed to be all that is given, and the self is a mode of language. "Language... thinks man and his 'world', including poems, if he will allow it to do so." [55]

    The activities of modern critical thought, especially those that have developed in the wake of semiotics, are considered to have dissolved the absoluteness of the self, which can now be seen to be an epiphenomenon, a construct, indeed a projection or prapa~nca; as Foucault wrote: "The researches of psychoanalysis, of linguistics, of anthropology, have 'decentred' the subject in relation to the laws of its desire, the forms of its language, the rules of its actions, or the play of its mythical and imaginative discourse." [56] The point of view has changed. There is no fixed point of all reference marked by a seat of consciousness, from which the rest of the world can be observed; its place has been taken by a point of convergence, but the lines which converge are always shifting, and the self which they define is always retreating.

    Perhaps the dearest deconstructionist statement of something like



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the principle of anaatma is Derrida's: "'I' always means, at heart, 'I am dead'." [57]

    Both recognize a conventional and a higher truth. Naagaarjuna makes much use of his doctrine of "two truths." This is characteristically Mahaayaana in its distinction between higher and lower claims or teachings, which are offered according to the capacity of the hearer to understand. Naagaarjuna distinguishes between those propositions that have the truth of ultimate meaning (paramaarthasatya) and those that on the other hand are advanced for a practical purpose, such as assisting the hearer along the path; these latter are pragmatic, valid for social intercourse; they are conventional truth (samv.rtisatya). [58]

    Paramaartha, supreme truth, is the truth of voidness, the truth that all statements about what is are inherently flawed, incapable of identifying any real thing about which anything can be said. When we understand this truth in our bones, we begin to qualify for enlightenment.

    Samv.rtisatya, conventional truth, is truth for the traffic of social convention; it is truth embodied in the particular. One needs to accept the conventions of the logocentric worldview in order to embark upon the process that leads to its destruction or ceasing (which is not really annihilation but something else, which sidesteps being and nonbeing). One must live in the world in order to conquer the world. Thus, from Naagaarjuna's point of view, one should not step in front of a bus even if the bus is, considered from the standpoint of ultimate truth, no more solid than a bubble of foam, a flower growing in the sky, or the son of a barren woman. [59]

    The Maadhyamika can argue that his doctrine of two truths is not contradictory. The relation between the two is not that of contradiction. Suppose that provisional truth declares that something exists (or, alternatively, that it does not exist). It is not in the nature of ultimate truth to deny this. It is not affirmed and it is not denied. It is not both affirmed and denied, nor is it neither affirmed nor denied.

    When we turn to deconstruction, it would be unwise to attempt to insist that what we find is just the same thing. We are, we must never forget, dealing with different systems that belong to different cultural worlds and, ultimately, work in different ways. There is, however, a real kinship which deserves to be admitted.

    Seen from outside, deconstruction has an awkward relationship with the real world of solid objects like buses, just as Madhyamaka does.

    Paul de Man wrote that "Death is a displaced name for a linguistic predicament." [60] The realist, the man of common sense, thinks that there is something more to it than this. Until the very moment of death, the experience of being run over by a bus, for example, demands the services of Aesculapius, not Derrida (or, in Indian terms, Bhai.sajyaguru, not Paa.nini). If the collision of solid determinate bodies is the lower truth, and



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the resolution of a linguistic predicament the higher, then the lower seems so cogent as to rob the higher of any pretension to be actually 'true'.

    Yet, if we are going to be rigorous about the matter, we must acknowledge that Johnson's commonsense answer to Berkeley's subjective idealism, however appealing to common sense, is not a disproof. We see a large stone; it is said to be in the mind. Very well; we kick it, and obtain a strong tactile sensation. How can this demonstration, of itself, tend in the slightest degree to prove that the stone is not in the mind? Vision and tactile sense alike are sensation; if, ex hypothesi, all sensations have no origin outside the mind, then the fact that two senses can produce the same illusion is not a difficulty. Similarly, if all statements of the form 'Determinate subject S has determinate property P are susceptible to deconstruction, then the possibility of making a statement of the type 'X is run over by a bus' is simply an example, not a disproof.

    There may indeed come a point when abstract speculation comes to seem altogether too airy-fairy, and we desire to place our feet upon the ground. David Hume often had this feeling. When it came upon him, he liked to play backgammon or billiards; but this does not prove that his speculations were pointless.

    What, then, are deconstruction's two truths? The higher truth, which is not bound or restricted by determinate categories, is the truth of what is, properly understood; it is an absence of theory, method, doctrine; it is not an affirmation or dogma. It takes in all theories, but does not enter a determinate relationship with any one; it transcends them all, seeing through their indeterminacy.

    The truth of deconstruction in the world, on the other hand, consists of the concrete facts that belong in a historical framework. From this point of view, deconstruction is institutionalized, has books, methods, styles of argument, disciples and enemies, and teachers and pupils; yet all of this is ultimately only provisional; it is the springboard from which the seeker after knowledge can jump into the void of truth, not the void itself.

    To anybody familiar with Mahaayaana thought, all this might seem to be an attempt to squeeze deconstruction into a Buddhist mold, yet in fact it is no more than a reasonably literal summary of what Jacques Derrida says in his article "Some Statements and Truisms...." [61] In this article, he plays with the word jetee, which can mean "jetty" or "breakwater" and distinguishes between two senses of deconstruction. The first is like a jetty or pier that "throws" (jeter) itself across the watery void. It is not determinate or stationary, has no stasis, is not a fixed state, and does not commit itself to absolute statements; it pervades all intellectual positions, but tends to devastate them. (The puns are, naturally, in the original.) The second is solid, founded upon pillars or piers of concrete fact



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tutionalized. It is a necessary condition for activity in the world, a framework for learning. In the same vein, J. Hillis Miller points to the ambivalence of deconstruction as a method that tends to turn into one more "quasi-scientific discipline," "another archeology" (like the conventional truth), yet at the same time must "constantly put its own grounds in question, " stepping aside from any disciplinary framework as soon as it begins to appear (like the higher truth). [62]

    This completes a review of some categories of similarity between the two schools of thought. Both of them are subject to debate, and have no doubt often been misunderstood. (Both, incidentally, are in obvious ways radical, but in less obvious ways conservative: Naagaarjuna sought to defend the original teachings of the Buddha; deconstruction, despite the transient allegiance to it of revolutionaries, who may ultimately be more at home with Marxism and the other 'isms', steps back to the renaissance and values the old disciplines of rhetoric and grammar, showing a remarkable taste for poesy, theological texts, and Greek philosophy.)

    My concern here has been with the similarities, and my purpose has been to show that these are instructive, and in some cases go beyond what has so far been recognized; but this is not to insist that the two teachings or styles are really the same thing. That is another matter, which must be left aside. The two schools come from widely different cultural milieux, and it is not to be thought that there are no significant differences in outlook or method between them. I leave undiscussed a complex of debatable related issues in respect to which there may be important contrasts. These issues include the questions of how far each school has the essential character of soteriology, negative theology, mysticism, or poetry; these are four distinct questions, not all to be answered in the same way. In an obvious if superficial sense, Madhyamaka belonged to a soteriological tradition while deconstruction does not. Madhyamaka employs negation, but does not seem to be theology; nor for that matter does deconstruction, though there has been some discussion whether Derrida is a sort of negative theologian (in despite of what he says). [63] The concept of mysticism is too problematic to be broached here, but there is a good case to be made for the claim that Naagaarjuna is rational, not mystical, while the status of deconstruction in this respect is not easily determined. Naagaarjuna writes verse, but it is the austere, pithy sort of verse that is designed to fix the message for transmission and teaching; Derrida writes prose, but it is the sort of prose that proceeds by allusion, circumbendibus, and resonance, like poetry. There is no room here for exploration of these comparisons.

    I therefore conclude with the observation that the similarities are strong enough at least to suggest the operation of common social or cultural forces in a way that transcends the differences between civi-



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lizations. One can speculate, for example, that deconstruction and Madhyamaka both found adherents in countries where the integrity of the political order was threatened by seething racial and cultural pluralism, and where there were many ready for an orthodoxy that seemed to validate the old intellectual standards of knowledge (Buddhist truth in the one case, academic rigor in the other) yet at the same time subverted the whole apparatus of education and received wisdom that advantaged the existing intellectual elite. Whatever the truth of this may be, the comparison between deconstruction and Madhyamaka identifies a field wide open for exploration.



Responsibility for everything written here cannot be shared, but I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Kevin Hart for many valuable comments on a draft of this article.

1 - J. Boswell, Life of Johnson, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934), p. 471. "I observed that, though we are satisfied his [Berkeley's] doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, 'I refute it thus.'"

2 - This is one of the many themes of D. Lehman, Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man (New York: Poseidon, 1991).

3 - J. Derrida, Memories for Paul de Man (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), p. 18.

4 - Muulamadhyamakakaarikaas (henceforth MMK) 24.11.

5 - See H. Coward, Derrida and Indian Philosophy (New York: SUNY Press, 1990) ; D. Loy, Non-duality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988); and R. R. Magliola, Derrida on the Mend (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1984). See also D. Loy, "The Deconstruction of Buddhism," in H. Coward and T. Foshay, eds., Derrida and Negative Theology (New York: SUNY Press, 1992), pp. 227-253.

6 - But see I. W. Mabbett, "Naagaarjuna and Zeno on Motion," Philosophy East and West 34 (4) (1984): 401-420; "An Annotated Translation of Chapter XVI of Candrakiirti's Prasannapadaa," Journal of Ancient Indian History 15 (1-2) (1984-1985): 47-84; "An Anno-



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tated Translation of Chapters XII and XIV of Candrakiirti's Prasannapadaa," Journal of the Department of Pali, University of Calcutta 4 (1987-1988): 113-146. Candrakiirti's commentary cannot be used uncritically as a source for Naagaarjuna's thought, but it is certainly useful.

7 - D. J. Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way (New York: SUNY Press, 1986). See also his A History of Buddhist Philosophy: Continuities and Discontinuities (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992), pp. 160-169.

8 - On these comparisons, see T. Anderson, "Wittgenstein and Naagaarjuna's Paradox," Philosophy East and West 35 (2) (1985): 157-169; and P. Della Santina, "The Madhyamaka and Modern Western Philosophy," Philosophy East and West 36 (1) (1986): 41-54.

9 - J. W. de Long, Cinq chapitres de la Prasannapadaa Premiere serie (Paris: Buddhica, 1949); and "Le probleme de I'absolu dans I'ecole Maadhyamaka," Revue philosophique de la France et de l'etranger 140 (1950): 322-327.

10 - David Ruegg, The Literature of the Madhyamaka School of Philosophy in India (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1981).

11 - J. May, ed., Candrakiirti Prasannapadaa Madhyamakavrtti (Paris: (Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1959) ; "La philosophie bouddhique de la vacuite," Studia Philosophia 18(1959): 123-137.

12 - As discussed by J. Derrida in "The Supplement of Origin," in Derrida, Speech and Phenomena, and Other Essays (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973), pp. 88-104, at pp. 91 f.

13 - Vigrahavyaavartanii 23; cf. MMK 17.31 f.

14 - This is made quite clear in Vigrahavyaavartanii 22 (autocommentary).

15 - Some have thought that Naagaarjuna claims to offer no views about anything: see, e.g., L. Stafford Betty, "Naagaarjuna's Masterpiece- Logical, Mystical, Both or Neither?" Philosophy East and West 33 (2) (1983): 123-138. On the other hand, David Ruegg argues that, when Naagaarjuna says that he advances no proposition (pratij~naa), what he means by 'proposition' is a claim about alleged real entities, not any claim at all. See D. Ruegg, "On the Thesis and Assertion in the Madhyamaka/dBu ma, " in Contributions on Tibetan and Buddhist Religion and Philosophy, ed. E. Steinkellner and H. Tauscher (Wien: Arbeitskreis fur Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien, Universitat Wien, 1983), pp. 205-241.

16 - MMK 13.8.



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17 - In one article, Jacques Derrida makes play with the word jetee, describing deconstructionism as a jetty, in the special sense that it is something thrown (the verb is jeter) across the watery void of theories, provisionally united with theories, but also separated from theories and leaving theories behind. See J. Derrida, "Some Statements and Truisms about Neologisms, Newisms, Postisms, Parasitisms, and Other Small Seismisms," trans. Anne Tomiche, in D. Carroll, ed., The States of "Theory": History, Art and Critical Discourse (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990) , pp. 63-94. The implications of this article will be noticed further below.

18 - On the concept of la differance, see particularly J. Derrida, "Ulysse Gramophone," in Derrida, Ulysse Gramophone: Deux mots pour Joyce (Paris: Galilee, 1987).

19 - The ineffability of what is real, on this view, does not arise from its being a transcendent superreality, such as some mystics might be supposed to intuit. Derrida points to the conditions that must exist before anything is said: see his "Comment ne pas parler," in Psyche: Inventions de l'autre (Paris: Galilee, 1987), an important essay rich in implications for the comparison with Naagaarjuna, which there is no space to explore in detail here.

20 - On conventional scholarly views, anyway; but see A. K. Warder, "Is Naagaarjuna a Mahaayaanist?" in M. Sprung, ed., The Problem of Two Truths in Buddhism and Vedanta (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1973) , pp. 78-88; and Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna.

21 - MMK 35.19: na sa.msaarasya nirvaa.naatki.m cidasti vi` na nirvaa.nasya sa.msaaraatki.m cidasti vi` This identification is not accepted by all scholars; some interpret Naagaarjuna's claim not as an assertion of numerical identity but as something else.

22 - Derrida, "Some Statements and Truisms," p. 85.

23 - Ibid., pp. 93 f.

24 - Cited by Lehman in Signs of the Times, p. 23.

25 - Theodore Stcherbatsky is often criticized for calling the Buddhist doctrine of pratiityasamutpaada "relativity." He was no doubt too influenced by the (then novel) theories propounded by Einstein. Nevertheless, the notion that things arise in dependence upon each other can fairly be called relativity.

26 - The ordinary rules of activity in the world are not, however, simply rejected. On the contrary, Derrida is seriously concerned with them. See J. Derrida, Du droit a la philosophie (Paris: Galilee, 1990).

27 - J. Culler, On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1983), pp. 74-76.



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28 - The notion of the 'death of the author' is attributable preeminently to Roland Barthes, who may have misunderstood Derrida. Derrida argued that the intuition of the meaning of 'I' is not necessary to the making of a statement containing the word 'I', which exists independently as a trace. The condition of the existence of the trace is in a sense the nonexistence of the author: "My death is structurally necessary to the pronouncing of 'I'." See Derrida, "The Supplement of Origin," p. 96.

29 - Tasmin sati, idam bhavati, one might say ("Given the existence of this, that can come into being").

30 - J. Derrida, "Living On," in H. Bloom et al., Deconstruction and Criticism (New York: Seabury, 1979), pp. 75-176, at p. 81.

31 - J. Derrida, Positions, cited by J. Searle, in "Review of J. Culler, On Deconstruction," New York Review of Books 30 (16) (27 October 1983), p. 75.

32 - David Loy argues that Madhyamaka deconstructs pairs such as self and no-self, substance and mode, no causality and all-conditionality, permanence and impermanence, and time and things in time, whereas brahmanism asserted the substantive reality of the first in each pair and made of the second an illusion or mere seeming, while Hiinayaana Buddhism made an absolute of the second and denied the first. Madhyamaka, he claims, recognizes that in every pair each term, rigorously analyzed, turns out to contain the seed or essence of the other, and thus cannot be made an exclusive absolute. His discussion raises questions that cannot be discussed here, but at least, in relation to the point at issue, it captures a distinctive feature of the Madhyamaka approach, which is not half-hearted or formal in its espousal of the catu.sko.ti but insists upon it as axiomatic. For a summary of Loy's argument, see his "The Mahayana Deconstruction of Time," Philosophy East and West 36 (1) (1986): 13-23.

33 - F. Nietzsche, Werke, ed. Karl Schlechta, vol. 3 (Munich: Hansen, 1966), pp. 804 f.

34 - P. de Man, Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke and Proust (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979) , pp. 106-111; and Culler, On Deconstruction, pp. 86-88.

35 - Searle, "Review of J. Culler, On Deconstruction," pp. 74-79.

36 - Not many studies have cogently addressed the actual structure of argument or come close to identifying the real issues. Relevant contributions include C. Oetke "Rationalismus und Mystik in der Philosophie Naagaarjunas," Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik 75



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(1989); and R. Jones, "The Nature and Function of Naagaarjuna's Arguments," Philosophy East and West 28 (4) (1978) : 485-502. The discussions by R. Robinson (e.g., "Did Naagaarjuna Really Refute All Philosophical Views?" Philosophy East and West 22 [3] [1972]: 325-331; and "Some Logical Aspects of Naagaarjuna's System," Philosophy East and West 6 [4] [1957]: 291-308) are brief and make debatable assumptions.

37 - MMK 1.1.

38 - This term is defined by Jacques May, one of the leading authorities on Madhyamaka, as "les modes d'etre ou les modifications de la realite absolue qu'ils designent par leur annulation." In the term's occurrences in Candrakiirti's commentary on the MMK, May commonly translates it as 'essence'. In the MMK, it is used quite freely with the straightforward sense of 'thing'.

39 - It has recently been argued by C. Oetke, in "Rationalismus und Mystik," that Naagaarjuna's teaching was, ultimately, the nonexistence of things. There is no space here to explore the senses in which this might legitimately be maintained.

40 - See de Long, "Emptiness, " and May, "La philosophie bouddhique de la vacuite."

41 - Cf. Derrida, "Comment ne pas parter."

42 - Derrida, "Ulysse Gramophone," p. 143.

43 - J. Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. G. Spivak, p. 158.

44 - Ibid., p. 159.

45 - See, e.g., R. D. Gunaratne, "Understanding Naagaarjuna's Catu.sko.ti," Philosophy East and West 36 (3) (1986): 213-234, with references to earlier discussion.

46 - I am aware that some philosophers consider the "four-cornered logic" of Buddhism in general, and of Naagaarjuna in particular, to introduce alternatives alien to conventional logic. K. N. Jayatilleke sees Buddhism as offering a "two-valued logic of four alternatives"; see Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge (London: Allen and Unwin, 1963), p. 350. B. K. Matilal (like a number of other philosophers) emphasizes the special character of negation in Madhyamaka; see Epistemology, Logic and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis (Mouton, 1971), pp. 162-165 (and in other writings). My own study of the Kaarikaas leads to the conclusion that Naagaarjuna uses entirely conventional logical principles, albeit with odd results. The most useful account of the "four-cornered logic" is David Ruegg's "The Uses of the Four Positions of the Catu.s-ko.ti



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and the Problem of the Description of Reality in Mahaayaana Buddhism," Journal of Indian Philosophy, 5 (1977): 1-71.

47 - MMK 2.5, 6.

48 - Lehman, Signs of the times, p. 82.

49 - B. Johnson, A World of Difference (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), p. 12.

50 - Derrida, "How to Avoid Speaking," p. 6.

51 - See, e.g., Sa.myutta Nikaaya 4.400 f; Najjhima Nikaaya 1.483-488.

52 - Kaarikaas, chap. 18, AAtmapariik.saa.

53 - MMK 18.7.

54 - MMK 18.6.

55 - J. Hillis Miller, "The Critic as Host," in H. Bloom et al., Deconstruction and Criticism, p. 224. This article provides evidence of other aspects of deconstruction adduced here: the interlinking of phenomena in paradoxical relationships, each term doubling as foundation and superstructure, as in the Buddhist linking of the twelve nidaanas (p. 224); deconstruction is not nihilism but "interpretation as such" (pp. 228-232) revealing the relationships of alternation and reversal between nihilism and metaphysics.

56 - M. Foucault, L'Archeologie du savoir (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), p. 22; translated by A. M. Sheridan Smith as The Archaeology of Knowledge (London: Tavistock, 1972), p. 13.

57 - J. Derrida, Cahiers Confrontation, 20 (1989): 91-114.

58 - There has been much discussion of the meaning of this doctrine of two truths. See particularly M. Sprung, ed., The Problem of Two Truths.

59 - Such images as these are to be found principally in commentaries such as the Prasannapadaa by Candrakiirti; but Naagaarjuna himself likens creation, continuity, and destruction (i.e., the phenomenal world) to "an illusion, a dream, a fairy castle in the sky [gandharvanagara]": see MMK 7.34.

60 - P. de Man, The Rhetoric of Romanticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), p. 81.

61 - Derrida, "Some Statements and Truisms."

62 -Miller, "The Critic as Host," p. 249.

63 - David E. Klemm argues for a "family resemblance," if not more, between Derrida's deconstruction and negative theology in "Open



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Secrets: Derrida and Negative Theology," in R. Scharlemann, ed., Negation and Theology (Charlottesville/London: University Press of Virginia, 1992), pp. 8-24. See also the other contributions in the same volume, especially R. Scharlemann, "Response and Queries, " pp. 100-119, and David E. Klemm et al., "Replies," pp. 120-148; also H. Coward and T. Foshay, eds., Derrida and Negative Theology (New York: SUNY Press) , 1992), esp. pp. 199-226 (H. Coward) and 227-253 (David Loy).