NDPR Review of Graham Priest’s One: Being an Investigation into the Unity of Reality and of its Parts, including the Singular Object which is Nothingness

While Priest’s book is not officially a work on “Indian Philosophy,” it’s worth noting the way he significantly engages with Buddhist themes in his latest work.

Graham Priest is perhaps best known for arguing that contradictions can be true and almost as well-known for arguing that some things don’t exist. In his newest book, he puts these views to work in the service of unapologetic metaphysics in the high old style. The book gives us a novel (dialethic) solution to the problem of unity, or the puzzle about how many things can come together and manage to be a single thing despite being many; a theory of that Heideggerian object, nothing; a structuralist theory of the nature (or ‘quiddity’, in Priest’s terms) of objects; and more. It ends drawing important socio-ethical conclusions from the metaphysical picture developed: the interconnectedness of all things means that the suffering of one is detrimental to all, and our own well-being requires reducing the suffering of each. The broad range of Priest’s metaphysics is matched by the broad range of philosophical traditions and sources he draws on, ranging from Plato to Heidegger to Bradley to Sartre to Nagarjuna.

 Among other things, the reviewer notes that:

One of the book’s most praiseworthy features is its wide engagement with many different traditions and thinkers in those traditions — not just those well-respected by mainstream analytic philosophy, such as Plato and his friends, but also those analytic philosophy tends to ridicule (Heidegger) or ignore altogether (Buddhist thought and eastern philosophy more generally). A full third of the book is devoted to `Buddhist themes’, and although I am unfortunately unqualified to comment on its exegetical and interpretative quality, I can report that I found the discussion fascinating and enlightening. Priest gives us clear, precise, technical, and philosophically sophisticated theorizing based around these thinkers, giving the lie to the not-uncommon trope among analytic philosophers that so-called `continental’ and Eastern thought are inherently wooly, without rigor.

Entire review linked here.

About Matthew Dasti

Matthew R. Dasti is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University.

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