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Title: Buddhist Śūnyatā and Christian apophaticism : a typology of negativity with special reference to Derridean khôra and différance
Author: Willis, James
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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Within the field of comparative religion, the methodological problem of comparing traditions that differ in their histories, theologies, and linguistic constructs persists. Rather than immediately establishing a cognitive bridge between two differing traditions, this study adopts the approach that a typology, specifically a typology of negativity, allows for a nuanced analysis into the comparative possibilities in Buddhism and Christianity. Within the larger scope of a typology of negativity, the teaching of emptiness, or śūnyatā, is examined in various traditions to have a better understanding of how it informs Buddhism; in a similar way, apophatic theology is examined in Christianity in order to show how it informs Christian thought. What binds these two traditions together herein is not a generalized or anecdotal connection, but rather a commitment to negativity, to examining how negation works in the language of these two traditions. The typology of negativity allows for a very specific “route” with which to establish a context of comparison. However, neither the typology nor the examination of negativity through emptiness in Buddhism and apophaticism in Christianity are enough to support a full comparison. An analytical bridge fills out the typology of negativity to help bring the concepts together and, more importantly, to find new comparative routes within the traditions themselves. This is attempted with Derridean deconstruction, specifically through différance in Buddhist emptiness and khôra in Christian apophaticism. Derridean différance and khôra provide a fluid language whereby problems of binary oppositions are bracketed and examined within the specific structures of sacred texts within the traditions. Furthermore, Derridean deconstruction provides the crux of the analytical argument because a deconstructed language of negativity, as it applies to a specific context within Buddhism and Christianity, opens new avenues of analysis and comparison.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available