• Singing Nature, Dancing Buddha: Zen, Language, and the Groundlessness of Silence

      Clarke, Erik; Department of Philosophy (2013-04-01)
      This thesis presents Zen experience as aesthetic in nature. This is done through an analysis of language, a central concern for Zen Buddhism. The thesis develops two modes of language at work in Zen: representational and indexical. What these modes of language entail, the kind of relations that are developed through their use, are explored with recourse to a variety of Zen platforms: poetry, the koan, zazen, music, and suizen. In doing so, a primacy of listening is found in Zen - a listening without a listener. Given this primacy of listening, silence comes to the forefront of the investigation. An analysis of John Cage's 4'33" provides this thesis with justification of the groundlessness of silence, and the groundlessness of subjectivity. Listening allows for the abyssal subject to emerges, which in tum allows for reality to present itself outside of the constitutive function of language.