Re: "Foucault's Oriental Subtext"

I'm not sure in which sense "noumenal" is used in the article to
which you referred, but for Kant, a central figure in the
European Enlightenment, the noumenal was a crucial concept for describing
reality. Though its internal place in his epistemological project is
in my opinion unstable, for Kant the noumenal was precisely the place where
one could talk of human freedom and the limits of determinism. Of course THIS
use of the noumenal, to bolster an autonomous (self-legislating) self, is
decidedly un Sunyata-like!
Perhaps the author of the article was making a statement about
the empirical legacy of the Anglo-American tradition, i.e. there is no
room for spirituality in a scientific and philosophic discourse so prone
to Positivist tendencies.
The reason I am reluctant to consider the "noumenal" a stepping
stone to Sunyata is precisely that, as the "emptiness of emptiness",
sunyata should not (I believe) be equated with anything that has a binary
opposite, such as noumenal/phenomenal. In the Madhyamikakarika (Verses of
the Middle Way) by Nagarjuna, he goes to great lengths, it seems to me,
to avoid the impression that sunyata is a spiritually attainable
something, even a spiritual cognizance of "nothingness".
In this sense I think there is something to postmodern (a
vague term indeed) ideas on the deconstruction of the transcendental self,
the fragmentation of subjectivity and the link to the
Buddhist idea of the non-self. My concern would be that, as we say in the
South, "you can't get there from here", owing to all manner of
assumptions about the relation between an aesthetics of existence and
ethical subjectivity. Actually, you may be able to get there from here
and i wish you luck.
P.S. --I think one interesting link between the language of sunyata and
western philosophy is in Wittgenstein. I'll try to get a reference of a book I
read about the history of comparative scholarship between Western
philosophy and Mahayana Buddhism, specifically addressing the
interpretation of sunyata.


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