This book examines and compares the philosophical positions of various postmodern thinkers and Zen Buddhist philosophers on: language and play; modes of thinking; skepticism and doubt; self and other; time and death; nihilism and metaphysics; and the conception of the end of philosophy. The Zen thinkers dealt with are Dogen and Nishitani, and the Western thinkers are Derrida, Lacan, Heidegger, Lyotard, Foucault, Deleuze and Guatarri, Kristeva, and Levinas. Although each share similar notions concerning the shortcomings of representational thinking, major differences still exist. By clarifying these differences, Olson counters the tendency to overtly assert or covertly imply that postmodern and Zen philosophies are moving in the same direction. Some postmodern thinkers and Zen Buddhist philosophers share common philosophical ground with regard to a mutual philosophical attack and attempt to overcome the perceived shortcomings of the representational mode of thinking that conceives of the mind like a mirror and assumes a correspondence between appearance and reality that is supported by a metaphysical structure.
"The book is fascinating! I was so excited by this work that I could hardly bear to put it down. Every page is replete with fresh insight. It is rare to discover a writer who is not only conversant, but also clearly expert in both the postmodern and Zen traditions. Olson's scholarship is impressive. His competent and detailed analyses elucidate both traditions. One can never approach either tradition in the same way again.
"The book approaches representational dualism with penetration and depth, and helpfully illuminates both the postmodern and the Zen traditions. The issues it deals with are central both to the Western tradition of postmodernism and to the East Asian tradition of Zen Buddhism. Olson's book could easily become a standard in the field of comparative philosophy." -- Steven W. Laycock, author of Mind as Mirror and the Mirroring of Mind: Buddhist Reflections on Western Phenomenology