The 8th International Philosophical Symposium of Miklavž Ocepek

Paula Arizpe (MEX)

Buddhism: The Crazy Wisdom

Spirituality has to do with TRUTH and GOOD and how they are conceived by the human mind. Occidental and Oriental scopes of truth and good are different, and thus the seeked result of happiness.

This paper analyses the gnoseological approach of the Buddhist path to spirituality and compares the noetical parameters where conceptions to both -Buddhist and Christian- approaches rest.

Occidental knowledge of Buddhism is not systematic: this paper exposes the underlying concepts that enable the comparison between both the gnoseological and psychological weave, such as trikaya, primal innocence, eternity, playful phaenomena and devotion.

I also intend not to lose the simple and naive ways in which the Buddhist tradition has spread out worldwide, which I consider part of its profound purity.

The paper concludes as a bridge between both traditions that I hope is useful for either to transit both ways.

Jan Ciglenečki (SLO), Nina Petek (SLO)

On Dreamers of Emptiness in the Himalayan Deserts

The paper highlights philosophical foundations of the Buddhist Mahāyāna concept of emptiness (Skrt. śūnyatā) and its experiential perspectives in two meditation practices in Tibetan Buddhist eremitic tradition in Indian Himalayas, i. e. practice of mahāmudrā and dream yoga (Skrt. svapnadarśana, Tib. rmi lam rnal 'byor). In the first part the paper introduces the philosophy of emptiness and how it is presented in the earliest texts of Buddhism Mahāyāna. In the second part it briefly outlines the role of meditation in Buddhist eremitic tradition, and in the third it analyzes two essential meditation techniques, based on theoretical aspects of śūnyatā. Through continuous examination the mind by the practice of mahāmudrā eremit, i. e. yogi (skrt. yogī, tib. rnal 'byor pa) realizes the true nature of mind and reality. All thoughts, perceptions and distinctions (like subject-object, self-other, saṃsāra-nirvāṇa) are recognized as illusory mental creations and pass into emptiness. This insight transforms yogi's mind into a spontaneous and free flow of thoughts and pure, all-pervasive and non-dual awareness, by which yogi becomes liberated from all limitations of conceptual thought and ordinary perception. The second significant meditation practice, yoga of dreams, influences the subtle activity of mind and involves taking control of one’s dreams and analyzing their contents. Yogi in dreams observes dream images, their arising and cessation and thus recognizes their illusory nature. Dream yoga helps to transcend one’s deluded conception of reality and leads to the enlighted understanding of the dream-like nature of the world, all phenomenna of which are empty, like dream images. Both practices, mahāmudrā and dream yoga, represents significant soteriological techniques in Buddhist tradition and reflects profound Buddhist teachings on emptiness.

Thomas Diesner (GER)

Full and Empty Writing. Some Reflections on Philosophical Diction

Our relationship to the world, our place in the world is a task in speech, in language, in the symbolic. Wittgenstein expresses in a prominent way in his Tractatus: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” (5.6.). Language as a prison, as a constraint or as a possibility for freedom? How do we want to face this task?

There is a way that psychoanalysis goes. According to Lacan, there is a full speaking and an empty speaking. And there is the way of Asian philosophies, like Ch'an Buddhism or Daoism. It is maybe surprising to find a similar distinction here as well, that between „live words“ (活句) and „dead words“ (死句). For Lacan as well as for Yuanwu Keqin (圓悟克勤) true and live speech is the only way for the subject to abolish its self-delusions.

What does all this mean for our philosophizing? Can the philosopher take the position of knowledge, of critique or rather that of temptation (Nietzsche), of irony (Kierkegaard)? Is this also a question of either/or?

Jelena Djurić (SER)

Hiding in suffering: human condition and hope

Both Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky are thinkers who deal with the common, almost ubiquitous human condition - suffering. Human beings associate suffering with a variety of causes, but key concepts are most often invisible although they indirectly arise from a dominant worldview. Modernity with its consumer values by all means tends to exclude suffering. Contrary to this approach, existence in suffering reveals a hidden archetype of the divine. This divine trace calls for the transformation of human weakness and stupidity into power and wisdom.

Eva Ďurková (SK)

What Gabriel Marcel's Drama can tell us about the idea of ''Covid lockdown being difficult for everybody''

The dramatic work of Gabriel Marcel represents the dive into succesful authenticity of intimate human relationships. The paper views these relationships as ideologicaly and religiously free, built solely on specific epistemological principal based in accepting otherness, with characters constantly expressing systemic openess towards its better understanding in their day-to-day conversations. The paper underlyes normality of such relationship, taking step to propose that it is untouchable by common psychological negatives of Covid lockdowns and that the idea manifested in the expression of Covid lockdowns „being difficult for everybody“ is inappropriate and insensitive towards those for whome Covid lockdown brings deep and serious difficulties.

Abrahim H. Khan (CAN)

Kierkegaard and Chan Buddhism in dialogue with reference to upaya/fangbian shanqiao

How might Kierkegaard be put in dialogue with Chan, a Chinese version of Buddhism, better known in Japan as Zen?

Kierkegaard's intention, expressed by his writings, is considered in the context of the influential Chinese text, the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. It is a record of the teachings of Hui-Neng in seventh-century South China, considered a seminal figure in Buddhist history. Untoutered, Hui-Neng arrived at sudden awakening and became a regional layman-teacher whom the Fifth Patriarch would designate as the Sixth. This presentation throws in relief the idea of a pedagogical-rhetorical strategy known as upaya in Sanskrit and fangbian shanqiao in Chinese, rendered as "expedient means" in English.  Kierkegaard's intention as approximating Hui-Neng's communicative style is proposed as a possible opening gambit for a cross-cultural philosophy of religion dialogue.

Ciril Klajnšček (SLO)

Left and Right of Reality

In my paper, I highlight the complete obsoleteness and unproductivness of the division of politics into left and right. The traditional criteria of divison of politics into left and right are of secondary importance in view of the central »nothingness of the world« and in view of the current, alienated, external structure of the world. The problem is not the division of truth into left and right, but the actual divison of the reality of the world into the (technical) outside and (soulless) inside. Between the personal interior and the technically structured exterior, at the expense of technique, we lose the spirit that is the condition of understanding and weaving a common world.

Peter Kondrla (SK)

Social Existence Without Being

The Covid pandemic has brought us a lot of experience. We have experienced dedication and a willingness to help - we have experienced fear, rejection, and hatred. The article discusses the ideas of the French philosopher J. L. Nancy, who talks about the inoperative community. He deals with the question of the existence of a social body – a society, which, however, does not have a common being. There is no common sense of existence or common goals. In specific cases from the pandemic, we show how existence without being manifested and manifests itself in our current presence.

Jasna Koteska (MK)

The half-hearted in Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard

The paper examines the status of the half-hearted individuals in the works of Dostoyevsky and Kierkegaard, and the questions of the ultimate good. It exposes findings about the nature of the good in the works of Dostoyevsky ("The Idiot") and in Kierkegaard, as well as in the broader context of the society and the single individual.

Olga Markič (SLO)

Buddhism and Free Will

What is the relationship between Buddhism, or better different Buddhist traditions, and free will? Until recently, the question was mostly ignored among the scholars. Gowans (2017) argues that the main reason is that Buddhist philosophical analysis is concentrated on soteriological utility: whatever promotes enlightenment. Nevertheless the question of free will can be discussed also from Buddhist perspective. Repetti (2017) thus argues in support of the idea that there ought to be a Buddhist free will. He evokes self-regulating skills gained by meditation (e. g. mind-control, volitional/meta-volitional regulation) that undermine hard incompatibilism, the most powerful free will skepticism. In this paper I will discuss Buddhist doctrine of ‘two truths’, the ultimate and conventional. Conventionally, there are whole persons, but ultimately, within Abhidharma reductionism, there are only deterministic atomistic psychophysical parts. I will explore how a weaker form of free will is compatible with such a doctrine and try to show how it can help us to better understand the free will problem in Western philosophy.

Anastasia Maslova (RUS)

Psychological imagination as intuition with reference to Dostoevsky's Novel

This presentation considers the idea of psychological imagination as having a cognitive function for Dostovesky while constructing the heroes for his "The Brothers Karamozov" . In that sense it is a kind of intuition which is explored more through the lens of nuclear effect theory. According to this theory, the human psyche has a basic structure, which aids in explaining how Dostovesky is depicting the frustrations of his heroes in the novel. This structure according to Russian psychological researchers is comprised of three nuclear affects: apathetic, dreary, and alarming. Human emotions and behaviour patterns correlate with one of the three. Such correlation is very much akin with life-view correlations according to Kierkegaard’s three existential spheres, or with Heidegger’s three ways of representing reality, in an attempt to explain being in the world. In short, the presentation directs attention to the intricacy of the workings of the human psyche from the perspective of a 19th century Russian writer’s understanding of the role of the imagination in shaping human existence. In this sense the presentation may thematically cohere with contemporary perspectives in psychiatric and psychology.

Humberto Ortega-Villaseñor (MEX)

An equivalent path towards the full realization of existence


The legacy of European masters such as Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) and Fyodor Dostoyevski (1821-1881) is vast and moving. Each one embarks on a journey that takes them in the nineteenth century to delve from their own trench - philosophy and literature - the complexities of the human soul. A journey that along different paths leads them to ponder life as the nucleus of an existentialism that is ahead of their time and that expands with all vigor throughout the 20th century. My condition as an academic and independent thinker born in Mexico, forces me in this modest analysis only to highlight some correspondences nested in that relatively incipient existentialism. That is, to show some parallels based on reasoning formulated by both scholars (regarding the process of Christian improvement), and their comparison with the task of transmutation of a semi-divine character such as Quetzalcóatl, whose millennial origin dates back to a primeval period of Mesoamerica as an original civilization.

Borut Ošlaj (SLO)

“I know that on the Hao River”: Ādarśanajñāna or on the art of cognition

In the article, on the background of selected Zen Buddhist, Daoist, philosophical and artistic starting points, a specific problem of cognition as a form of human potential self-limitation and self-liberation will be phenomenologically unfolded. Such an approach will also require some comparisons between Asian and Euro-American epistemological models and dilemmas (subject-object, noetic-conative, symbolic-metasymbolic,…) and the necessity of their critical evaluation with regard to the extent of their cognitive abilities. Special attention will be paid to the "concept" of ādarśanajñāna as a creative-artistic way of cognition, which in its radicalism, which is by no means limited to Western tradition, undermines traditional patterns of cognition and at the same time opens the abyss of its emancipatory abilities.

Milan Petkanič (SK)

Dostoevsky’s Legend of The Grand Inquisitor through the Lens of Kierkegaard

In my paper, I will try to find some intersections between Dostoevsky’s Legend of the Grand Inquisitor and Kierkegaard’s thinking. The Legend is Dostoevsky’s stirring defense of the freedom of the human spirit. Here, based on his original interpretation of the three temptations of Jesus Christ in the desert, Dostoevsky offers his own explanation of the basic pillar of the Christian faith: freedom. According to Dostoevsky, the preservation of freedom of faith, love and the human spirit is the main reason why Christ did not submit to any of these temptations. Dostoevsky contrasts all three temptations – the temptation of bread (as a symbol for material and earthly happiness), the temptation of a miracle (as a temptation of indisputable proof) and the temptation of secular power – with freedom, faith, love and meaning. In the study, I will point out the affinity between Kierkegaard’s and Dostoevsky’s responses to these polarities. Like Dostoevsky Kierkegaard puts freedom, spirit, and meaning high above happiness, like him he urges freedom of faith when he introduces the notion of “possibility of offense,” and like him he emphatically distinguishes between secularity and holiness up to that extent that it leads him to a thoroughly apolitical interpretation of Christianity – at this point, however, he is already beginning to move away from Dostoevsky.

Primož Repar (SLO)

Salighed, yurodivy and Prince Mishkin: A Dialogue between Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky

Dostoevsky is one of the most influential authors on philosophical existentialism and genuine Christian thought. Prince Mishkin is a typical example of an existential figure, fueled by the idea formed by the narrative of the novel The Idiot. It shows the idea of ​​t. i. holy fools or madness for Christ as a model of the God-man, as developed by the Orthodox mentality in the term yurodivy. On the other hand, Kierkegaard, who comes from the world of Scandinavian Protestantism, develops his Christian mindset around the untranslatable Danish word salighed, which in the notion of happiness as a fundamental feeling of Christian fulfillment brings tension between bliss and madness as feelings of incomprehensible but uniform fulfillment; we name it differently – from bliss, blessing, salvation, eternal happiness, etc. In its fundamental tension, however, this term comes very close to Orthodox yurodivy. In this paper, I will compare both concepts in Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky in the way that unfolds in the novel The Idiot.

Darko Štrajn (SLO)

Filming Dostoyevsky – Colours of Adaptations

Dostoevsky is one of the most prominent film authors. The number of his works as literary bases for feature films, television films and series is approaching as many as three hundred titles. Countless films and television productions that take only individual motifs from his literature must be added to them. Last but not least, his novels and short stories have been screened in various national cinematographies. What does that mean? Where is the reason for this great popularity of Dostoyevsky among the creators of audio-visual works on all continents of the world? What does all this mean for a modern broad understanding of his literature, and how does he inscribe himself in theories within the framework of adaptation studies? It is difficult to make critical value judgments about a canonized author like Dostoyevsky what Kafka could still afford. However, the question of the apparent “depth” of his literature is still possible. Can a question on a high degree of suitability of his literature for film adaptation be inferred, based on the risky diagnosis of Dostoevsky’s proximity to the forms of trivial literature? Did individual films based on, say, the novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot or The Brothers Karamazov go beyond the novel? The answers to all these questions must be sought in the theories that link film and philosophy – in particular film and the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard.

Andrej Ule (SLO)

The Concept of (Non)-Self in Buddhism

I contrast the Buddhist concept of the self as a process and a conditional reality with the concept of the substantial metaphysical Self in Brahmanism and Hinduism. I present the criticism of the Buddha and the Buddhist thinkers, such as Nāgārjuna, who reject any idea of the metaphysical Self. They deny the idea of the Self as an own being or as an owner of its mental acts. However, they do not reject any sense of self. They allow a pure process of knowledge (first, Self-knowledge) without a fixed subject or owner of knowledge. This idea is in a deep accord with some Zen stories and paradoxes of the Self and knowledge. I mean that substantialist and the processual views on the Self represent two equally possible and limited treatments of the eternal questions of man. They lie on the opposite curves of the same “circle” of human endeavours to reach the fundamentally Truth and Meaning of life, but they cannot really show or reach it. Maybe, a Buddha-like silence can show it.

Marko Uršič (SLO)

Concept and Experience of Nature in the Japanese Buddhism


In the Theravāda Buddhism, as in the whole Hinayāna, “Lesser Vehicle”, nature is present mostly on the symbolic level, for example: a tree, the lotus flower, many sprouts and lianas, a rhinoceros, a tiger, the lion’s roar etc. are symbolic expressions, metaphors for the Buddhist spiritual and ethical messages. However, in the Buddhist “Great Vehicle”, Mahāyāna, especially in its Chinese and Japanese variants, the relation towards nature is essentially modified, probably also due to the influence of Daoism, but in the core of these new teachings is principally the belief of “identity” between samsara and nirvana, i. e., that the world and the salvation are the “same”. In the cosmic landscapes of Avatamsaka Sutra, shining worlds of buddhas and bodhisattvas not only glow in all rainbow colours, but they also sound in wonderful tunes, and they are fragrant of heavenly perfumes etc. Dōgen, the founder of the Japanese sōtō Zen Buddhism, writes that mountains “walk” and rivers “stand”, and we can also find wonderful descriptions of nature in other variants of the Japanese Buddhism (in the texts of Kukai, Shinran & al.). This modified attitude towards nature is beautifully reflected in the “classical” haiku poetry (Bashō, Buson, Issa), in the woodblock prints (Hokusai, Hiroshige), and in a very special and sublime sense of beauty in the Japanese art of gardening, where nature is subtly harmonized with the symbolic language of the Buddhist tradition. – In the end of this contribution, I only raise a larger question whether the relation towards nature yields not only the essential difference between the Buddhist “Small” and “Great Vehicle”, but also between Indian and Chinese-Japanese cultures themselves?

Sebastjan Vörös (SLO)

Everything is in flames: Buddhism and Existential-Phenomenological Reflection


The paper consists of two parts. In the first (shorter) part I put forward a critique of certain contemporary understandings of Buddhism, particularly of the Buddhist (mindfulness) meditation practice; in the second (longer) part I outline an alternative view of the latter through the lense of existential-phenomenological inquiry. The critical part is aimed primarily against the conceptions which see (mindfulness) meditation as the essence of Buddhism and then conceive of the former in terms of bare (thoughtless and non-judgemental) observation. In contrast to this popular view, I argue that, when discussing Buddhist meditation practice, we must take into account not only (i) that it is always always embedded into a broader philosophical framework, which provides it with orientation and meaning, but also (ii)  that one of its integral elements is reflection. The main part of the paper is dedicated to the thematization of the particular type of reflection that is part and parcel of Buddhist meditation practice. My account draws primarily on the work of the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty and his notion of “radical reflection” (réflexion radicale), i.e., reflection that is anchored in the pre-reflective existential/experiential background, from which it surges and into which it returns. What differentiates a reflection rooted in the experiential landscape or “phenomenal field” (champ phénomènal) from a reflection that is not so rooted is that, in addition to investigating objects (i.e., that which our consciousness is aimed at), the former also emphasizes the importance of investigating the (bodily-perceptual, implicit) horizon, in which these objects are given to me. As such, radical reflection allows me to not only become aware of, but also to explore, and ultimately transcend, the resistance to the co-determination of myself and the world, which is, as I will argue, the foundation of craving (taṇhā) and consequently of suffering (dukkha).''

Urša Zabukovec (SLO)

Dostoevsky in Pentonville

Dostoevsky sums up impressions from his first trip to Europe in his less known work Winter notes on Summer Impressions (1862), a philosophical essay or cultural-anthropological reportage. In the very first chapter he mentions that he hadn’t seen the famous St Paul’s Cathedral in London, as he »was in a hurry to get to Pentonville«. In the article, we will try to show that for Dostoevsky jail is a metaphor for Europe and European life as such. By depicting life in London (where he visited the Great London Exposition) and Paris, Dostoevsky shows that revolutionary ideals of »liberté, égalité, fraternité« haven’t been realised and explains why in his view they can’t be realised at all. He juxtaposes the »nature« of the Western man, who is only capable of creating a »social anthill«, with the Russian man/peasant who, immersed in Orthodox Christian faith, is capable of creating a form of social organisation based on an integral, spiritual connection between highly developed free human beings.

Neža Zajc (SLO)

The problem of the personal freedom, according to F. M. Dostoyevsky and to S. Kierkegaard


When reading the novels of F.M. Dostoyevsky, the reader must also confront the interpretation of M.M. Bakhtin, who defined as an essential feature of the literary imagination of Dostoyevsky the creation of a so-called inner man, which is said to be a completely new vision and depiction in the literary text. However, this word phrase cannot be found in the works of Dostoyevsky. Nevertheless, such a definition is a kinship of the concept of S. Kierkegaard, who, with the term "different voice or inner light," described the inner voice as a personal guide to autonomy, individuality, and access to final internal liberation. In correlation to Plato's "daemon," Kierkegaard's attitude to Christianity and religion, in general, is crystallized in this way. Because it is an exercise through the consciousness of conscience, mindfulness, and straight monk's quietness, it is in many ways translated as a corrective to internal dialogue, as is seen in the novels of F.M. Dostoyevsky. More than that, so-called direct communication and intrapersonal dialogue are the keys to internal freedom, which – both in Dostoyevsky's and Kierkegaard – is made in terms close to ascetic piety. The essential difference is, of course, in the way of expression, which one must consider: this is literary work (Dostoyevsky) on one side and – philosophical discourse on the other (Kierkegaard).

Bojan Žalec (SLO)

Art and culture as resonance

In the article, the author explains and proves the claim that resonance is an integral part of art, whether it is the creation, performance or reception of art, a combination of the above, etc. The structure of the paper is as follows: the author first explains the concept of resonance used in the paper. He then applies it to art and beauty and presents an analysis of the happenings of resonance in art and culture, its various forms, dimensions and directions. He pays special attention to the different types of contradictions or tensions that characterize resonance (in art). Among them we may mention the following: experiencing happiness on the one hand, and sorrow and longing on the other; the tension between the “voice” coming from within and the one coming from outside; the presence of resonance and its opposite, of alienation, in art. In the last part of the paper, the author presents some implications of understanding art as resonance and its explanatory capacity (for instance distinguishing between high and popular culture) and a view of resonance from the aspect of reification and instrumentalization. Of the components of the reference frame of the paper, the work of Harmut Rose is especially worth mentioning, but in addition to it we could mention also many other representatives of the diverse current of resonant thought from the past to the present (Martin Buber, critical theory, Martin Heidegger, Charles Taylor, and others).