Derrida and Seng-Zhao : linguistic and philosophical deconstructions

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Philosophy East & West

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page



Contemporary Western deconstructive philosophy and Madhyamika Buddhism are, historically and geographically, far apart from each other. One grew out of the "beyond-thinking" of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida around the late 1960s. The other was founded by the Indian thinker Nagarjuna (ca. 100-200) and established in China by Seng-zhao (374-414), and flourished in Korea from the sixth to the fifteenth century and in Japan from the seventh to the twelfth century.' However, there exist many important parallels in method, strategy, and rationale between these two philosophical traditions. Recently, a number of scholars have discovered significant parallels in the Derridean negation and the Madhyamika prasariga (reductio ad absurdum), and carefully compared the logic of negativity at work in both traditions.2 Here, we will turn our attention to the hitherto unexplored parallels in Derridean and Madhyamika deconstructive use of language.3 First, we will examine how Derrida and Seng-zhao, the founder of Chinese Madhyamika, perform lexical-syntactical deconstructions in their philosophical writings.4 Then, we will consider how Derrida and Seng-zhao use their lexical-syntactical deconstructions to demonstrate the impossibility of claiming ontological- theological (hereafter ontotheological) essence in and/or through language, and how they proceed to double-negate Name-reifying and Matter-reifying ontotheologies in their respective traditions. Lastly, we will observe how Derrida and Seng-zhao theorize about their double negation in similar terms of neither/nor but pursue their deconstructive enterprises along different paths.



Print ISSN




Publisher Statement

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Cai, Z. (1993). Derrida and Seng-Zhao: Linguistic and philosophical deconstructions. Philosophy East & West, 43(3), 389-404. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1399576