Nascent Speculative Non-Buddhism

Glenn Wallis


The present article is a contribution to a particularly urgent issue that is unfolding in Buddhist circles in North America andEurope. Although this issue is framed in various ways, it revolves around a single question; namely, what form will contemporary reconfigurations of Buddhism take in the twenty-first century West? The most influential groups in this discussion to date are those that style themselves secular-, progressive-, atheist-, agnostic-, liberal-, and post-traditional Buddhist. As these groups gain adherents in the West, traditional organizations, such as the various Zens, Tibetans, Vipassanas, etc., are stating their claim to “Buddhism” with increasingly vehement proprietorship. The present article, however, is not yet another attempt to reformulate or reform (in any sense of the term) “Buddhism.” Neither is it concerned with ameliorating traditional Buddhism's relationship with contemporary western secular values. In performing its first task, however, my emerging theory, called “speculative non-buddhism,” can contribute to the current debate in a decisive way by showing that all forms of Buddhism are identical. What makes them so is that they are all governed by what I call “buddhistic decision:” the syntactical structure that constitutes all things, discourse, and people, “Buddhist.” Decision thus constitutes both the ideological nature, and the ideological constant, of “Buddhism.” 


Buddhism; Buddhist criticism; conceptual theory; cultural criticism; François Laruelle; hermeneutics; heuristics; non-philosophy; religious ideology.

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