Comparative Philosophy 8 (2):65-89 (2017)

Authors
Robert Alan Paul
Dalhousie University
Abstract
Zeno’s Arrow and Nāgārjuna’s Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way Chapter 2 contain paradoxical, dialectic arguments thought to indicate that there is no valid explanation of motion, hence there is no physical or generic motion. There are, however, diverse interpretations of the latter text, and I argue they apply to Zeno’s Arrow as well. I also find that many of the interpretations are dependent on a mathematical analysis of material motion through space and time. However, with modern philosophy and physics we find that the link from no explanation to no phenomena is invalid and that there is a valid explanation and understanding of physical motion. Hence, those arguments are both invalid and false, which banishes the MMK/2 and The Arrow under this and derivative interpretations to merely the history of philosophy. However, a view that maintains their relevance is that each is used as a koan or sequence of koans designed to assist students in spiritual meditation practice. This view is partly justified by the realization that both Nāgārjuna and Zeno were likely meditation masters in addition to being logicians. The works are, therefore, not works that should be assessed as having valid arguments and true conclusions by the standards of modern analytic philosophy—contrary to some of the literature—but rather are therapeutic and perhaps more appropriately considered as part of an experientially focused philosophy such as existentialism, phenomenology or religion.
Keywords Zeno  Nagarjuna  Philosophy of Science  Science and Buddhism  Science and Religion
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