Friday, August 26, 2005

Emptiness

At the Heart of Philosophy on Wednesday night, Graham Priest touched on the Eastern idea of Emptiness. This is the idea, loosely, that "things" aren't really anything singular in themselves, but rather are a collection of independant things, identified by their relationship of having come together.

This is simple to see - a car is exactly the same "thing" whether identified by "that car over there" or by "those doors, those four wheels etc". There is no mistake introduced by referring to the whole, or the sum of its parts.

What if people, or souls, are like this? Is there any difference between "me" and "my memories, my legs, my arms, my body, what I am currently thinking about etc".

If not, what is the difference between "what I am thinking" and "what you are thinking"? Is there any real sense in which "I" die, if the parts in me live on, or are represented elsewhere. I think it would be better to live, but suppose all the things I hold dear actually do live on in others. I am not the only person who loves, who thinks, who is angry, who thinks about philosophy. Those aspects of myself which I would be most sad to lose perhaps are not really mine to claim.

Cheers,
-MP

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