The Relative Identity of All Objects: Tiantai Buddhism Meets Analytic Metaphysics

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Abstract

According to Zhiyi 智顗 (538–597), the founder of the Chinese Buddhist Tiantai school 天臺宗, “one object is all objects;” hence, all objects are profoundly interconnected. In this paper, I critically examine Zhiyi’s metaphysics of objects as presented in the historical Tiantai texts and subsequently develop a contemporary and accessible thesis of interconnectedness by integrating Zhiyi’s views with resources from contemporary analytic philosophy, particularly relative identity. By drawing on Zhiyi’s insights and incorporating contemporary philosophical ideas, I also illustrate how historical Chinese Buddhism and contemporary analytic metaphysics can be mutually informing.

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Li Kang
Washington and Lee University

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