After I left military service in 2014, I moved to Paris and studied Philosophy for two years. The most important course I took during that time was “Modern Critical Theory” where a long-limbed, curly-cue of a Frenchman introduced me to Postmodernism and Critical Theory.
In that course I read Western thinkers touching into the same concepts as our ancient Indian venerables.
Language is arbitrary. Meaning is relational. Binary opposition is imposed by human cognitive processes. Now we’re talking! But I was new to both fields and didn’t have the tools to weave them together.
Discovering the teachers at Bodhi College, I was struck by what I understood as strongly postmodern interpretations of the dhamma. An insistence on the non-binary nature of Gotama’s teachings. Recognition that the structures of human understanding are built on shifting sands. An exploration of knowledge and wisdom based on the felt experience of being human in the world.
I have a sense that this confluence of postmodernism and dhamma may be the jumping off point of my dhammic explorations. I want to write and think and discuss how Saussure’s work in linguistics can help us understand our complicated relationship with language, translation, and meaning. How Derrida’s critique of Western philosophy can help us move towards Sammā-diṭṭhi (Skillful View). How Freud and Lacan can help us understand and work with the Āsavas (effluents). Lakoff and embodied cognition. Hofstadter and analogy.
Do you know of anybody doing this work? Or are you interested in talking about it? It’s kind of all I want to talk about these days. :)