Modal Philosophy East and West
C. S. Herrman
affiliation not provided to SSRN
July 16, 2010
The notion of ‘non-dual’ philosophy has recently enjoyed a resurgence, on the positive side for its doctrinal avoidance of dualistic literalism, on the negative for its continuing tendency to deny duality itself, à la idealism. I propose that the investigation of binaries – specifically of unity and duality with respect to each other – be denominated ‘modal’ philosophy (within that context, ‘modality’). Though ‘modal philosophy’ is presently recognized, reprising of the concepts involved would suggest the need to reconfigure its core in order to stress in particular the methodologies illuminating binaries of all kinds.
Thus, for example, interacting pairs of dualities at a metaphysical level will, in a modal model, frequently appear empirically as triadic. This distinction and its evaluation, analytically rather than phenomenally considered, is under-represented in non-dual approaches, but is central to modal philosophy once reconfigured to emphasize binary analysis.
The principal Eastern and Western modal thinkers will be identified and their systems described. The two Chinese founders of modal philosophy, Laozi and Zhuangzi, are compared and contrasted with the two Western thinkers most responsible for modal and paradigmatic concepts, Charles Sanders Peirce and Alfred North Whitehead. Also mentioned are the philosophers Aristotle and Schopenhauer, and spiritualists Śankara and Eckhart, who brilliantly used modality but without fully formulating its core principles. All alike, however, as well as all who follow their lead, speak to a common truth that has been broadly acknowledged in spiritual terms even as its analytical interpretation has met fierce opposition from many empiricists and most all positivists.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Modal, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Peirce, Whiteheadworking papers series
Date posted: July 19, 2010 ; Last revised: August 11, 2010
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