How It All Depends: A Contemporary Reconstruction of Huayan Buddhism

In Oxford Handbook of Chinese Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Few would deny that something ontologically depends on something else. Given that something depends on something, what depends on what? Huayan Buddhism 華嚴宗, a prominent Chinese Buddhist school, is known for its extensive thesis of interdependence, according to which everything depends on everything else. This intriguing thesis is entangled with seemingly paradoxical claims that everything is not only identified with everything else but also contained within it. Moreover, the radical thesis of interdependence entails that dependence is pervasive and symmetric. In this paper, I first develop a contemporary interpretation of Huayan interdependence by employing the definitional account of essence and the essence-based account of dependence. Through these contemporary resources, I elucidate and unify the theses of interdependence, mutual identity, and mutual containment within Huayan Buddhism. I then propose a unique framework of ontological dependence that suggests varying degrees of ontological dependence, aimed at accommodating and explaining away our intuitions against pervasive and symmetric dependence. By contemporizing Huayan Buddhism, I explore its potential and facilitate engagement between contemporary metaphysics and Huayan Buddhism.

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Li Kang
Washington and Lee University

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Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
Making Things Up.Karen Bennett - 2017 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Essence and modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.

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