Tuesday, 12 January 2016


19. Perhaps it could be said that the work of the Zen master, like that of Wittgenstein's philosopher, 'consists in assembling reminders for a particular purpose'. Just as Wittgenstein does not wish 'to spare other people the trouble of thinking', so the Zen master has no intention of sparing the disciple the trouble of personal inquiry. Yet Zen inquiry is pursued, not through thinking, but through a carefully practised discipline of non-thinking. But is 'thinking' all of a kind? Are there not different types of thinking? Might the 'non-thinking' of Zen be but a different kind of thinking? According to Descartes, for example, 'all the operations of will, intellect, imagination, and of the senses are thoughts'. Leaving aside for the moment the question of the relation between thinking and non-thinking and focusing on the claim that the Zen master's work could be represented as 'assembling reminders for a particular purpose', it is important to say that the Zen master's reminders would not be of doctrine but of a strategic practice. This is the practice that corresponds with Wittgenstein's 'correct method in philosophy', namely, 'to say nothing except what can be said'.

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