Inspired by Jacques Derrida’s reading of Emmanuel Levinas in “Violence and Metaphysics,” this paper attempts to bring Nagarjuna into a dialogue with these two European philosophers, showing how the issue of violence is viewed differently in both traditions. Although some might doubt the feasibility of arranging such a meeting for both sides, I rather believe that a face-to-face talk for strangers would bring out fruitful surprises.
In the daily usage, “violence” means to use force to break a law or rule, to assault sexually, or to desecrate something sacred, etc. Violence in this sense never stops crying in the darkness of history. At the heart of violence, however, language always loses its voice. Aharon Appelfeld writes in New York Times about what happened in Auschwitz in January 1945: “The few people left alive describe the prevailing silence as the silence of death. Those who came out of hiding after the war -- out of the forests and monasteries -- also describe the shock of liberation as freezing, crippling silence. Nobody was happy. The survivors stood at the fences in amazement. Human language, with all its nuances, turned into a mute tongue. Even words like horror or monster seemed meager and pale, not to mention words like anti-Semitism, envy, hatred.” (italicized mine) In such a silent situation, how could be violence brought into language, not even mention philosophy, when we face with “a past that has never been present”? This is the question striking us in the first place.
Nevertheless, the limitation of language shall not completely prevent us from meditating on this problem. The first step of investigation in the following is to look into how violence is told in the hagiographical narratives in the Madhyamika Buddhist tradition. Then I will try to see how violence is tacitly treated in Madhyamika philosophy, while Levinas and Derrida will be taken as the interlocutors to bring to the surface some hidden insights. The reason why I place Nagarjuna and Levinas/Derrida together is that all of them show their distrust to the metaphysics of the same. They all try to find the exit, the opening space, by which the oppression in metaphysics of identity can be hopefully overcome.
Murder, Death and Narratives
The death of Nagarjuna was reported differently in Chinese and Tibetan sources. According to Biography of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, the cause of death was attributed to the conspiracy of a Hinayanist who was deeply upset by Nagarjuna’s radical refutation of all other religious and philosophical schools. Knowing his agony, old man Nagarjuna asked this Hinayanist: “Is it your wish for me to have long life in this world?” The Hinayanist replied: “It is truly not my wish.” Thinking to fulfill the antagonist’s wish, Nagarjuna locked himself in room and found died some days later.
In this Chinese source, no explicit evidence points to the death of Nagarjuna as a case of murder. According to Bu-ston’s account, however, it is clearly stated that Nagarjuna was murdered by Prince Shaktiman who tried to take the power of crown. It is said that Nagarjuna stood on the side of the king in rather nasty royal politics. Due to the conflict in the court, Prince Shaktiman cut off Nagarjuna’s head with a blade of Kusha grass.
The similar fate also happened to Aryaveda, a disciple of Nagarjuna, who was killed by a Brahmin. According to Biography of Bodhisattva Aryaveda, a young Brahmin, who felt deeply humiliated by Aryadeva’s severe criticism toward his teacher, vowed to revenge, saying: “As far as you embarrassed me by an empty knife, I will return you a real knife.” Finally when Aryadeva took a walk after sitting meditation, this young Brahmin jumped forward and stabbed him to death.
Another famous murder also happened to Kumalasila (740-796), an advocate of the Yogacara-Svatantrika-Madhyamika school, who engaged debates with a Chinese monk belonging to the Ch’an lineage. The debate was held in the presence of the king at the Tibetan court. It is reasonably believed that the debates had been involved with political rivalry. Tibetan Buddhists were split into two parties. One partition was sided with China, while the other with India. As to philosophical positions, the Indian wing stood for a Madhyamika view of emptiness, while the Ch’an followers were based on the Buddha-nature doctrine. According to the Tibetan records, the side of Kumalasila won the debate. Ch’an monks were driven back to China and their teaching was therefore prohibited. Sadly, as reported by Bu-ston, four Chinese butchers, sent by the Chinese Ch’an monk, brutally squeezed Kumalasila’s kidneys to death.
All three of the prominent Madhyamika philosophers died for religious violence. As stated above, the question concerning us is how the issue of violence is accounted in terms of the philosophy of emptiness? According to the Madhyamika teaching, all beings, including self and things, are empty in themselves. The same teaching also applies to the case of murder that the one who kills is empty in himself, and the victim who is killed is also empty in himself. Even the killing itself is empty in itself. It is therefore the same as saying that murder is empty in itself. There is no one who kills, nor the one who is killed. Then, who needs to mourn? Who is in need of mourning? (These are ethico-religious questions that will be addressed later in this article.) It is just like what Arydeva told his disciples at the moment of dying: “In light of reality, who is wrongly accused? Who is treated cruelly? Who cuts? Who kills? In light of reality, there is no victim, nor the one who harms. Who loves? Who hates? Who steals? Who hurts? You cry because you are attached to the wrong views deluded by the poison of ignorance. It causes the evil karma. As a matter of fact, he harms not me, but his own retribution of karma.” A nihilistic reading of the notion of emptiness easily comes up to suggest that, according to the above Madhyamika account, the whole event of murder is nothing but a mere fiction. If this reading were accepted, the religion will be self-defeated inevitably by its nihilistic consequence.
Emptiness in the Accusation of Nihilism
Obviously, Nagarjuna is fully aware of the accusation of nihilism. In the Chapter XXIV of Mulamadhyamakakarika, an opponent accused Nagarjuna for destroying everything sacred and profane in the claim that all beings are empty in themselves. The criticism can be summarized as follows. If everything is empty in itself, there will be neither arising nor cessation. If there is neither arising nor cessation, there is no causation. If there is no causation, it follows that there is no Four Noble Truths. For Four Noble Truths is also guided by the principle of causality. (The Second Truth is taken as the cause of the First Truth, and the Third Truth as the cause of the Fourth Truth.) If Four Noble Truths do not exist, then knowledge, relinquishing the cause of suffering, cultivation, and realization of nirvana will not be possible. Consequently, no Samgha, Dharma, and Buddha exist. “Speaking in this manner about emptiness, you contradict the three jewels, as well as the reality of the fruits, both good and bad, and all such worldly conventions.” (MK.XXIV.5-6)
In responding to criticism, Nagarjuna points out that the concept of emptiness has been wrongly understood as mere non-existence. As for Nagarjuna, “emptiness” means “absence of essence” (nihsvabhava). He denies the notion of svabhava (essence, existence-in-itself), but never deny the notion of existence (bhava). Hence, Nagarjuna claims that he did not destroy anything, including Buddhist teachings and institution, religion and ethics. Nagarjuna goes further to argue that, on the contrary, everything is established by virtue of emptiness. If there were no emptiness, nothing would be established. In other words, everything exists in emptiness. This statement will not be difficult to understand, if the notion of emptiness is understood in terms of causation without svabhava.
On the other side, those philosophers named Abhidharmists classify all existences with categories that, in the final analysis, are based on the notion of svabhava. Although the Abhidharma Buddhists firmly refutes the notion of self, they nevertheless assume the existence of elementary factors that exist with svabhava. That is, the notion of svabhava is accepted as the metaphysical foundation upon which all beings and their activities (karitra) can be made intelligible. It is precisely due to this metaphysical essentialism that leads Nagarjuna to oppose the Abhidharmists.
It is worthy of note that, in the analysis of the notion of svabhava (MK.XV), Nagarjuna does not explicitly claim to negate the existence of svabhava. On the contrary, Nagarjuna goes on to question the Abhidharmist distinction of ontological category: ultimate existence (paramartha-sat) and conventional existence (samvrti-sat). According to the Abhidharmists, the ultimate existence refers to any element that cannot be analyzed further, viz., that has its own svabhava, whereas the conventional existence refers to that which is composed by elementary factors only. For instance, while a person is regarded as the conventional existence, the aggregates of person are considered as the ultimate existences that exist in themselves. The notion of svabhava is introduced in this context as an ontological substratum to prevent the entire personhood falling apart. On the side of Nagarjuna, however, metaphysics of svabhava serves nothing but as illusive comfort.
It is quite clear that Nagarjuna did deny metaphysics of svabhava. However, in MK.XV Nagarjuna claims that, following Katyayana, while “existence” implies grasping after essentialism, ‘non-existence” implies taking side with anti-essentialism. Without exception, both extremes are confined within metaphysics of svabhava. They are different only in the manner of affirming or negating the notion of svabhava, which is assumed in each system. As for Nagarjuna, however, neither essentialism nor anti-essentialism should be accepted. Furthermore, the metaphysical distinction between essentialism and anti-essentialism, or svabhava and nihsvabhava, shall be called into questioned, because even the latter has been caught by the notion of svabhava.
Nagarjuna refutes metaphysical differentiation, knowing that the samsaric life-world is constituted by defilements of action (karma-klesa), while the latter in turn results from differentiation (vikalpa) and discursive construction (prapanca). (MK.XVIII.5) According to Candrakirti’s commentary, “discursive construction” refers to “the beginninglessly recurring cycle of birth and death, which consists of knowledge and objects of knowledge, words and their meanings, agents and action, means and act, pot and cloth, diadem and chariots, objects and feelings, female and male, gain and loss, happiness and misery, beauty and ugliness, blame and praise.” The whole world of life and death is constructed by the weaving of conceptual and psychological discriminations. Within the conceptual system, beings are ontologically hypostatized and categorized as “female” or “male”, “object” or “subject”, etc., instead of as being in themselves. It is exactly in this metaphysical hypostatization that “violence” occurs.
Violence as Inscribing within Difference
But, what is violence? Following Nietzsche and Heidegger, Derrida treats violence as a metaphysical act that attempts to reduce the irreducible to something more essential. Beings are made intelligible within the system of metaphysics structured in the categories of duality and hierarchy. For instance, with the ontological distinction of “transcendental” and “empirical” beings are often explained with reduction from “empirical” to “transcendental”. A typical example is Platonism, in which “transcendental” is considered more fundamental than “empirical” in terms of truth and value. However, such kind of metaphysical differentiation and reduction finds no deeper ground other than itself for justification. Moreover, metaphysical reduction has always been done with conspiracy of depression and domination. As for Derrida, violence is always already immanent in all forms of metaphysics, such as logocentrism, ethnocentrism, phallologocentrism, etc, that excommunicate the Other in the system of the Same.
In Derrida’s discussion on violence, two articles published in 1967 need to read carefully: “The Violence of the Letter: From Levi-Strauss to Rousseau” and “Violence and Metaphysics: An Essay on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas”. In the former, Derrida brings out a “genealogy” of violence in three “stages”. First, Derrida places violence in the context of writing/naming:
The structure of violence is complex and its possibility—writing—no less so…There was in fact a first violence to be named. To name, to give names that it will on occasion be forbidden to pronounce, such is the originary violence of language which consists in inscribing within a difference, in classifying, in suspending the vocative absolute. To think the unique within the system, to inscribe it there, such is the gesture of the arche-writing: arche-violence, loss of the proper, of absolute proximity, of self-presence, in truth the loss of what has never taken place, of a self-presence which has never been given but only dreamed of and always already split, repeated, incapable of appearing to itself except in its own disappearance. (italicized mine)
The originary violence appears in the act of naming the unnamable, the proper, the self-presence, which has never taken place. In using the notion of “the proper,” Derrida warns us carefully not to fall into the metaphysics of the Same, the self-presence, or svabhava, if we are allowed to bring Nagarjuna into dialogue here. For Derrida, the self-presence “has never been given but only dreamed of and always split, repeated, in capable of appearing to itself except in its own disappearance”. It appears only in the metaphysical desire for what is originally void in itself. Put it in Nagarjuna’s expression, “self-presence” (svabhava) is nothing but a metaphysical construct, which, like a sky-flower, cannot be said to “exist” or “not exist”. This metaphysical construction always already goes along with psycho-linguistic construction (prapanca). Obviously, both Nagarjuna and Derrida are fully aware of the danger of falling again into the metaphysics of the Same that is embedded in the (mis)use of language.
As for Nagarjuna, language itself is devoid of svahhava, and is empty in itself. Like anything else, language is dependently originated (pratityasamutpannatvat). Just like an artificial person interacting with another artificial person, both of whom are devoid of svabhava, linguistic interaction occurs in the daily world without any necessity of presupposing the notion of svabhava as metaphysical substratum. On the contrary, the opponents—Nyaiyayikas and Sarvastivadins—contend that the meaning of word exists in the corresponding/referring relationship between name (nama) and things (vastu). In order to secure the certainty of meaning, both name and things must be real in the sense that they are immanently endowed with svabhava. In other words, the metaphysics of svabhava is introduced again to endorse a realist ontology and theory of language. For Nagarjuna, however, precisely due to the conspiracy of language and metaphysics there arises ignorance that leads to violence.
Following arche-violence, as Derrida continues to point out, the second stage of violence appears as an institution of moral and juridical law. In other words, the possibility of law as the second violence, as well as that of the third violence, commonly called evil, war, indiscretion, rape, etc., is also rooted in the same conspiracy of language and metaphysics. Here we see that Derrida confronts with this last violence seriously. Let me quotes Derrida’s words again:
This last violence is all the more complex in its structure because it refers at the same time to the two inferior levels of arche-violence and of law. In effect, it reveals the first nomination which was already an expropriation, but it denudes also that which since then functioned as the proper, the so-called proper, substitute of the deferred proper, perceived by the social and moral consciousness as the proper, the reassuring seal of self-identity, the secret.
In this passage, which “is dense and demands very careful reading,” Derrida interprets empirical violence as the effect of the previous levels of violence, as the consequence of “the first nomination which was already an expropriation,” and as the denudation of the so-called “proper” which is nothing but a metaphysical construct. Violence was already seeded in the soil of psycho-linguistic construction (i.e., prapanca, a key word in Madhyamika philosophy). It can be traced genealogically to the naming of the first thing. To name something is therefore the same as to classify something as something, to make something capable of being possessed, and therefore to dominate something. To name something is the same as to label something for the purpose other than merely naming.
In the Buddhist philosophy, this process of naming, classification, and discrimination is called vikalpa. As Paul Williams explains lucidly, “the use of ‘vikalpa’---as expressed by the divisive prefix ‘vi-‘---is to place emphasis on the creation of a referent through the ability of language to partition and create opposition, to divide a domain into mutually exclusive and contradictory categories.” This usage of vikalpa reminds us of what Derrida just said about “the originary violence of language which consists in inscribing within a difference, in classifying, in suspending the vocative absolute.” (italicized mine)
Irreducibility of the Other as Face
Let us turn to “Violence and Metaphysics” now. In the following discussion I will not touch on Derrida’s double reading of Levinas, “which… shows, on the one hand, the impossibility of escaping from logocentric conceptuality and, on the other, the necessity of such an escape arising from the impossibility of remaining wholly within the (Greek) logocentric tradition.” Here I am not concerned with Derrida’s strategy of deconstruction. Nor will I discuss Levinas directly, although in this article he is always a face of absence looking us from above.
In “Violence and Metaphysics,” Derrida read Levinas as one who “summons us to a dislocation of the Greek logos, to a dislocation of our identity, and perhaps of identity in general.” This stance looks quite similar to Nagarjuna’s attempt of escaping from the essentialist ontology exemplified in Nyaya logic and Sarvastivadin’s realism. In his runaway plan, Levinas seeks after the “naked experience”, which is said to “liberate from the Greek domination of the Same and the One (other names for the light of Being and the phenomenon) as if from oppression itself—an oppression certainly comparable to none other in the world, an ontological or transcendental oppression, but also the origin or alibi of all oppression in the world.” The similar account has been seen in Heidegger’s critique of Western metaphysics that, as the origin of ontological or transcendental oppression, this “Same”, “One” or “Being” has different names in the history of Western philosophy: Physis, Logos, Hen, Idea, Energeia, Substantiality, Objectivity, Subjectivity, the Will, the Will to Power, the Will to Will, etc. Each of those names represents a particular metaphysical system within which being is present to us. A pressing problem for all Heideggerians, including Levinas and Derrida, is that the truth in any form of metaphysics can be possible only at the expense of concealment and domination within totality.
As to Nagarjuna’s similar response to the onto-theo-logical tradition in India, which is mainly characterized by the metaphysics of svabhava, we also see a strong intention of liberating from ignorance and suffering rooted in the metaphysics of the Same (svabhava). For Levinas, Derrida, and Nagarjuna, the most serious problem hanging in their meditation is precisely this ontological violence rooted in the metaphysics of the Same or svabhava.
For Levinas, the alternative between the Greek (Hellenism) and the other of the Greek (Hebraism) reveals a perennial conflict between ontology and ethics. On the side of the Greek is Heidegger’s ontology, which is, as Levinas and Derrida remark, always confined in subjectism, a stance contradicting to Heidegger’s own intention. For “Being is inseparable from the comprehension of Being.” Being reveals itself in the existent’s understanding of Being. It is important to note that, as Levinas points out, a violent priority has been found in Heidegger’s ontological distinction between Being (ontological) and existent (ontic). To quote Levinas’ own words:
“To affirm the priority of Being over the existent is, indeed, to decide the essence of philosophy; it is to subordinate the relation with someone, who is an existent (the ethical relation), to a relation with the Being of the existent, which, impersonal, permits the apprehension, the domination of the existent (a relationship of knowing), subordinates justice to freedom…the mode of remaining the same in the midst of the other.”
It is very clear that, for Levinas, the subordination of the existent, the individual person, for example, to the Being of the existent, the impersonal Existence, is violence—the ontological violence. The same violence is also depicted as the subordination of ethics to ontology, of ethics to theoretism, and of the other to the same. With such subordination the neutral, impersonal character of Being neutralizes the Other as a same neutral, impersonal being. This kind of ontology is, to quote Levinas and Derrida again, “a philosophy of power,” “a philosophy of the neutral, the tyranny of the state as an anonymous and inhuman universality.” This accusation with strong political implication is very serious. It reminds us of the controversial relationship between Heidegger and Nazism. Although it is not our purpose here to make judgment on the controversy, the above comments do express their concern with the conspiracy between ontology and phenomenal violence.
To escape from the Greek to the Hebrew means the return of ethics from ontology. As Levinas claims, ethics should be replaced for ontology as the first philosophy. In this replacement, the recovery of the nonviolent relationship, the relationship “neither mediate nor immediate,” is Levinas’ true concern. “[His] thought calls upon the ethical relationship—a nonviolent relationship to the infinite as infinitely other, to the Other—as the only one capable of opening the space of transcendence and of liberating metaphysics.” The infinite Other we encounter should not be taken as the object, particularly the object of theoria. Regarding the latter, Levinas attacks the imperialism of theoretism that “predetermined Being as object.” Whether or not philosophical discourse is able to escape from the violence of light in theoretism is not our concern at this moment. To this question, Derrida does give a deconstructive answer. What concerns us is Levinas’ ethical intention to lead us back to the “naked experience” characterized by face-to-face. For Levinas, violence, in both the ontological and ontic sense, will occur to the object only, but not to the Other as face.
But, what is face? In many places Derrida repeats the description of face in the style of phenomenology:
The face is not only a visage which may be the surface of things or animal facies, aspect, or species. It is not only, following the origin of the word, what is seen, seen because it is naked. It is also that which sees. Not so much that which sees things—a theoretical relation—but that which exchanges its glance. The visage is a face only in the face-to-face.
For reasons now familiar to us, the face-to-face eludes every category. For within it the face is given simultaneously as expression and as speech. Not only as glance, but as the original unity of glance and speech, eyes and mouth, that speaks, but also pronounces its hunger…The other is not signaled by his face, he is this face: “Absolutely present, in his face, the Other—without any metaphor—faces me.” The other, therefore, is given “in person” and without allegory only in the face.
The face does not signify, does not present itself as a sign, but expresses itself, offering itself in person, in itself, kath’auto: “the thing in itself expresses itself.”
Above all, face is naked, not covered by sign, not signified by metaphor or allegory. It is that which exchanges its glance. Face is face-to-face.
It is interesting to note that Levinas’ “face” is quite reminiscent of Ch’an Buddhist’s “original face”. The phrase “original face,” as seen for the first time in Tsung-pao’s edition of the Platform Sutra of Hui-neng, refers to that which is beyond good and evil. In the later usage in Chinese Buddhism, this phrase has often been used as the synonym of “original mind,” “original scenery” and “original nature.” These expressions are better employed to denote the “naked” experience without conceptual and ontological contamination. As a matter of fact, they should be regarded as nothing but the existential expressions of emptiness.
Violence in Discourse and its Exit
“Original face” is invented in Chinese Buddhism to lay down the existential meaning of emptiness. For Nagarjuna, the Other as face is purely ineffable. It can be understood only in light of negative theology. That is, all existents cannot be reduced to other categories (e.g., five aggregates, samskrta/asamskrta, etc.) characterized by svabhava (sameness, self-identity). True existents are beyond conceptualization and verbalization. In Mahayana Buddhism, they are called paramartha-sat (transcendence), dharmata (thing-ness), tathata (suchness) or sunyata (emptiness, voidness). As illuminated by Nagarjuna:
When the sphere of thought (citta-gocara) has ceased, that which is to be designated (abhidhatavya) also has ceased. Like nirvana, the nature of things (dharmata) is not arising nor non-ceasing. (MK.XVIII.7)
The “original face” can be seen only when it is ceased to be the object in the consciousness (citta-gocara) as well as ceased to be the object of designation.(abhidheya) . On the contrary, violence to the Other as face arises right in the discursive thinking (prapanca) when the Other is reduced to be an object. Here prapanca is always diagnosed as the main cause for the arising of defilement and suffering. Regarding the meaning of prapanca, the most puzzled, yet crucial philosophical term in Madhyamika philosophy, for the sake of convenience, I will quotes Paul Williams’ lengthy finding again:
I suggest that the word ‘prapanca’ in the Madhyamaka seems to indicate firstly the utterance itself, secondly the process of reasoning and entertaining involved in any articulation, and thirdly further utterances which result from this process. ‘Prapanca’ therefore designates the tendency and activity of the mind, weakly anchored to a (falsely constructed) perceptual situation, to proliferate conceptualization beyond its experiental basis and therefore further and further removed from the foundation which could lead to a correct perception via impermanence. Prapancas are thus language inasmuch as language forms their ‘substance’, but since their content is heavily loaded with contextual suggestion so they are caused by language, that is, they always stretch beyond themselves in implication of other conceptual structures.
Prapanca, as the process of designating, uttering, reasoning, entertaining, desiring, imaging, proliferating and constructing, is reminiscent of what is called by Derrida as différence, which is also called “arche-writing”. Derrida introduces différence as temporization and spacing by which “the movement of signification is possible only if each so-called ‘present’ element, each element appearing on the scene of presence, is related to something other than itself, thereby keeping within itself the mark of the past element, and already letting itself be vitiated by the mark of its relation to the future element…” Precisely due to this différence as arche-writing that originary violence occurs. It is in this sense that, as for Derrida, originary violence cannot be erased, because language is not possible without différence. As far as we need to use language, we are not able to avoid violence. Violence is right in language. Put it in the Madhyamaka expression, violence seats right in prapanca. Only under this line of meditation can we understand why Nagarjuna defines “nirvana” as “the serene coming to rest of prapanca” (sarvaprapancopasama).
A final problem, yet not in the least, remains for further pondering. As for Nagarjuna and Derrida, is it possible to eliminate prapanca/ différence in the process of searching for liberation? If prapanca/ différence cannot be eliminated forever, it seems that violence will not be ceased. For Derrida, strategically speaking, there is no exit, no solution once forever. What can be done is to practice deconstruction ceaselessly in the history of metaphysics. As for Nagarjuna, however, he seems to suggest that liberation (nirvana) can be realized only in samsara, the world of suffering and violence. Without samsara, there is no nirvana. By the same token, without prapanca, there is also no elimination of violence.
Finally, we come to Levinas by asking him the same question. In the view of Derrida’s reading, Levinas seems to hold a messianic eschatology within which hope is still possible:
Truthfully, messianic eschatology is never mentioned literally: it is but a question of designating a space or a hollow within naked experience where this eschatology can be understood and where it must resonate. This hollow space is not an opening among others. It is opening itself, the opening of opening, that which can be enclosed within no category or totality, that is, everything within experience which can no longer be described by traditional concepts, and which resists every philosopheme.
I would like to conclude my meditation here, which is based on this accidental dialogue among Nagarjuna, Levinas and Derrida, with the above quotation, suggesting us to read Buddhist term “sunyata” (emptiness, voidness) in the sense of “hollow space,” “opening,” “the opening of opening, ” in which the face of the Other will not be humiliated.
 Jacques Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics,” Writing and Difference (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1978), 107.
 “Always, Darkness Visible,” New York Times, January 27, 2005.
 “A past that has never been present: this formula is the one of that Emmanuel Levinas uses, although certainly in a nonpsychoanalytic way, to qualify the trace and enigma of absolute alterity: the Other.” Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy, translated by Alan Bass (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982), 21.
 Max Walleser, “The Life of Nagarjuna from Tibetan and Chinese Sources,” Asia Major: Hirth Anniversary Volume (1922), 421-455.
 Biography of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, tr. Kumarajiva, T. 51.185.a-b.
 Bu-ston, The History of Buddhism in India and Tibet, translated by E. Obermiller, Heidelberg, 1931, 127-128.
 Biography of Bodhisattva Aryadeva, tr. Kumarajiva, T.51.187.b-188.a.
 Bu-ston, The History of Buddhism in India and Tibet, 196. For a brief account of the debate, see Paul Williams, Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (London and New York: Routledge, 1989), 193-197.
 Biography of Bodhisattva Aryadeva, tr. Kumarajiva, T.51.187.c.
 David J. Kalupahana, The Philosophy of Middle Way (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986), 330.
 MK.XXIV.14. Here I adopt Kumarajiva’s Chinese translation, which is different from the Sanskrit text. See Brian Bocking, Nagarjuna in China: A Translation of the Middle Treatise (Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1995), 344. Among many English translations from the Sanskrit text, I favor Nancy McCagney’s translation for the same verse: “Because openness works, therefore everything works. If openness does not work, then everything does not work.” See Nancy McCagney, Nagarjuna and the Philosophy of Openness (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), 201.
 In the Vigrahavyavartani, Nagarjuna criticizes Nyaya’s theory of negation (pratiùedhà). See Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, trans., The Dialectical Method of Nàgàrjuna (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986).
 Hirakawa Akira, A History of Indian Buddhism: From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana, translated by Paul Groner (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990), 143-144.
 In the MK.XV, Nagarjuna defines “svabhava” as “not created nor dependent on anything other than itself.” (Verse 2cd). In Candrakirti’s commentary, “svabhava” is explained as “the one which exists of and for itself (sva bhava); it is the unique, ownmost nature (atmiya rupa) of anything.” Cf. Mervyn Sprung, Lucid Exposition of the Middle Way: The Essential Chapters from the Prasannapada of Candrakirti (Boulder: Prajna Press, 1979), 154.
 Cf. David J. Kalupahana, The Philosophy of Middle Way, 234.
 Cf. David J. Kalupahana, The Philosophy of Middle Way, 266-267.
 Mervyn Sprung, Lucid Exposition of the Middle Way, 172.
 Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, translated by Gayatri C. Spivak (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1974), 101-140; Jacques Derrida, Writing and Difference (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1978), 79-153.
 Richard Beardsworth, Derrida & the Political (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 22-23.
 Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, 112.
 Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, trans, The Dialectical Method of Nagarjuna (Vigrahavyavartani) (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1978), 108.
 For the debate between Nagarjuna and the Nyaiyayikas on the theory of negation, see Kamaleswar Bhattacharya, trans, The Dialectical Method of Nagarjuna (Vigrahavyavartani), 101-106.
 Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, 112.
 Richard Beardsworth, Derrida & the Political, 23.
 Paul Willams, “Some Aspects of Language and Construction in the Madhyamaka,” Journal of Indian Philosophy, 8/1, 1980, 27.
 Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley, eds., Re-Reading Levinas (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991), “Editors’ Introduction,” xii.
 Jacques Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics,” in Writing and Difference, 82.
 Ibid., 83.
 Martin Heidegger, Identity and Difference, translated by Joan Stambaugh (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969), 66.
 David F. Krell provides a clear explanantion of Heidegger’s ontological distinction: ““Ontological” refers to the Being of beings (onta) or to any account (logos) of the same; hence it refers to a particular discipline (traditionally belonging to metaphysics) or to the content or method of this discipline. On the contrary, “ontic” refers to any manner of dealing with beings that does not raise the ontological question. Most disciplines and sciences remain “ontic” in their treatment of beings.” David F. Krell, ed., Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), 53-54.
 Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969), 45; It is quoted by Jacques Derrida in “Violence and Metaphysics,” Writing and Difference, 97.
 Regarding the Heidegger/Nazism controversy, it is well know that Derrida stands on the side of Heidegger. In the end of “Violence and Metaphysics,” where “nationalism” is discussed, Derrida quotes Heidegger’s critical comments on nationalism: “On the metaphysical plane, every nationalism is an anthropologism, and as such, a subjectivism.” Ibid., 319, note 80.
 Ibid., 90.
 French ‘autrui’ (the personal Other, the you) is translated by ‘Other,’ while ‘autre’ by ‘other.’ See translator’s note, Writing and Difference, 312.
 Jacques Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics,” Writing and Difference, 83.
 Ibid., 85.
 Ibid., 98, 100-101.
 Liu-tsu ta-shih fa-pao t’an-ching, T.48.349.b.
 David J. Kalupahana, The Philosophy of Middle Way, 268.
 Paul Willams, “Some Aspects of Language and Construction in the Madhyamaka,” 32.
 Jacques Derrida, “Différence,” Margins of Philosophy, translated by Alan Bass (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982), 13.
 Mervyn Sprung, Lucid Exposition of the Middle Way, 33.
 Jacques Derrida, “Violence and Metaphysics,” Writing and Difference, 83.
(Dept of Philosophy, National Chengchi University, Taiwan