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A Buddhist monk probes Heidegger on the limits, and necessity, of philosophy

In 1963, Martin Heidegger sat down for an interview with Bhikku Maha Mani, a Vietnamese-born Buddhist monk, radio presenter and great admirer of the reclusive and influential German philosopher. In their wide-ranging conversation, Maha Mani poses broad questions to Heidegger, yielding an illuminating exchange of ideas between two distinct schools of thought – and some characteristically enigmatic answers. Heidegger shows a sincere appreciation of aspects of Buddhism, such as its rejection of materialism and the compatibility of non-theism and religion. Some of the considerable differences between Buddhist thought and his own emerge as well, including his notion that, among living things, only humans possess the burden of ‘Being’. Their discussions of these timeless questions also open the way for fascinating glimpses into Heidegger’s views in the wake of the Second World War, including his call for a new age of thought and self-reflection amidst the ceaselessly rising tide of technology, and the enduring need for philosophy despite its historical shortcomings.

Reporter: Bhikku Maha Mani

29 October 2019

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