Rorty, Buddhism, and Ethics without Essence
- Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 56, Number 1, Winter 2020
- pp. 19-42
- Additional Information
Despite striking similarities, the connection between Madhyamaka Buddhism and Richard Rorty’s philosophy has been almost entirely ignored. This article aims to correct this oversight by suggesting that much could be gained by exploring their connection. It does so, first, by establishing the similarities and differences between Rorty and Madhyamaka, and second, by demonstrating that Madhyamaka vocabulary can solve significant problems in Rorty’s thought. In particular, the article will argue that Madhyamaka can alleviate the tension between irony and liberalism, by showing that internalisation of anti-essentialism induces liberal sentiments. This allows us to conceive of irony and solidarity as existing in harmony and mutual dependence, without attempting to reconcile them theoretically. In doing so, this article provides the basis for a cross-cultural conception of anti-essentialist ethics.