This is a transcript of a talk that I gave at the ‘Gardens of Justice’, Critical Legal Conference at the Kungliga Tekniska Hogskolan, Stockholm in Septmeber 2012.
How was it, scholars of Buddhism have asked, that a single Zen monk produced such a vast body of commentary, seemingly over the course of generations? The answer lays waste to our modern idea of intellectual property.
Neoliberal economists have taken for granted that ours is a world positioned in what John Rawls called “the circumstances of justice”, a world where the majority live in a state somewhere between abundance and shortage of resources. But how accurate a description of the world is this?
Mahāyāna Buddhists believe that there are not ultimate distinctions between one person and the next. Liberals, on the other hand, believe that persons are fundamentally separate. Buddhists apparently deny what liberals seems to affirm; namely, the separateness of persons. How can these views be compatible?
My MA dissertation was about whether Buddhist and liberal approaches to ethics can be reconciled, or whether they are pulling in different directions. I discussed a number of ways they could be reconciled before finally concluding that the task is probably futile given the practical differences of each world-view.