[Buddha-l] Mereological nihilism

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Mon Apr 21 09:29:47 MDT 2008

On Sunday 20 April 2008 22:27, jkirk wrote:

> The term nihilism is probably over as a useful concept with
> respect to Buddhism. It tends to be used pejoratively. It's a
> label.

Nihilism is a perfectly good descriptive term of certain philosophical 
positions, some of which Buddhists do hold. So when a Western philosopher 
describes Buddhism as endorsing a particular kind of nihilism, there is 
nothing at all pejorative involved. 

Confusion arises, however, in English-speaking Buddhist studies circles 
because "nihilism" is often used to (mis)translate the position that 
Sanskirt-speaking Buddhists called uccheda-vaada.  Actually there is nothing 
nihilistic about uccheda-vaada at all, but when English-speaking Buddhist 
hear the word "nihilism", they tend to associate it with uccheda-vaada, which 
is a taboo position that is almost by definition anti-Buddhist.

Richard P. Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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