Authors: Melvin Chen
Given the contemporary trend in favour of austerer ontological commitments, it would appear that Buddhism as a religion would have renewed relevance in the ontological debate concerning what exists. In what follows, I will argue that the ontological anti-realism of Madhyamaka Buddhism shares enough family resemblances with the lightweight realism of scientific naturalism to warrant a new look in, particularly in resolving ontological stalemates in the debate between the religion of yesterday and the atheism of today. I will demonstrate how the religion of yesterday, in the ontotheological tradition, holds an inflationary view of ontology, whereas both Madhyamaka Buddhism, particularly under Nāgārjuna, and scientific naturalism maintain a deflationary view of ontology. I will demonstrate how Madhyamaka Buddhism, while it abandons the project of ontology, does not abandon the world of conventional truth entirely, allowing Madhyamaka Buddhists to engage constructively with scientific naturalists. The philosophy of the future, then, might well be constituted by Madhyamaka Buddhist ontological anti-realism as the middle path between the religion of yesterday and the atheism of today, allowing us to engage in the world without attachment.
Keywords: Ontological Anti-Realism, Lightweight Realism, Madhyamaka Buddhism, Nāgārjuna, Scientific Naturalism, Deflationary View, Ontological Commitments, Meta-Ontological, Conventionalism