Response to John D'Arcy May's Review of Facing Up to Real Doctrinal Difference: How Some Thought-Motifs from Derrida Can Nourish the Catholic-Buddhist Encounter by Robert Magliola

Buddhist-Christian Studies 37:291-293 (2017)
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D'Arcy May, in his review, contends Magliola argues that the Buddhist doctrines of no-self and rebirth are contradictory, whereas Magliola in fact argues just the opposite--that these two Buddhist doctrines are not contradictory (and he explains why). What Magliola does contend is that Buddhist no-self and rebirth contradict the Catholic teachings of individual identity and "one life-span only." D'Arcy May's review contends that Magliola admits "authoritative statements" are "hard to come by" in Buddhism, whereas Magliola in his book contends that "authoritative statements" play a very important role in Buddhism: his book explains how "authority" functions in Buddhism, and he directs readers to the careful "vetting" of his book--including his discussions of "authority in Buddhism"-- by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi (for Theravada) and Ven. Dr. Dhammadipa [Fa Yao] (for both Theravada and the two "Big Vehicles"). His book also cites approvals by several established academics who are Buddhologists. Magliola's "Reply" goes on to argue that D'Arcy May's interpretation of the "sensus fidelium" foists the opinions of "white intellectual elites and higher-income Catholics of the North Atlantic tier of countries and their geographical projections--Australia, etc. (only 9 percent of the world's Catholic population) upon the 68 percent of Catholics who live in the global South and East. Magliola's "Reply" also expresses his dismay that D'Arcy May, throughoout his review, dodges the pivotal Derridean notion of "samenesses erected by irreducible difference" though this "thought-motif" constitutes the scaffolding of Magliola's entire book.

Author's Profile

Robert Magliola
Princeton University (PhD)


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