The Logic of Unity

The Discovery of Zero and Emptiness in Prajñāpāramitā Thought

By Hōsaku Matsuo
Translated by Kenneth K. Inada

Subjects: Buddhism
Series: SUNY series in Buddhist Studies
Paperback : 9780887063923, 168 pages, February 1987
Hardcover : 9780887063916, 168 pages, February 1987

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Table of contents

Hajime Nakamura

Translator's Introduction

Kenneth K. Inada


Why Philosophy?

Why Comparative Philosophy?
Western and Eastern Philosophy

Chapter I Methodology of Comparative Philosophy

—Realization of mind-base and intuitive unconsciousness—

Locus of the Problem and Its Development

Definition and method

My methodology

On philosophizing

Diagram of the Mind-base in East-West Context

Space and Time as Modes of Intuition

Evidences of Intuitive Unconscious

Demonstration No. 1-1

Demonstration No. 1-2

Demonstration No. 1-3

Demonstration No. 1-4

Logic East and West


Comparative philosophy and contrast of ideas

Realization: holistic man versus individual

Weakness of Western epistemology

Man is born twice

Philosophy as the foundation of all disciplines

What is man?

Chapter II The Logic of Unity

—Discovery of zero and emptiness in prajñaparamita thought—

The Reason for a Logic of Unity

Metaphysical Bias and True Human Orientation

The Limits of Religion and the Social Sciences

The Nature of Buddhism

Ten Articles on the Logic of Unity

The Kegon Ten Profound Gates


Further analysis of the ten articles

Holistic consciousness
Dialectical epistemology
Discovery of philosophical zero
Dialectic of religion and philosophy
Principle of dual truths

Unitary dialectic

Integrative dialectic

Dialectical historicism

Conception of life and world view

Chapter III The Truth in the Heart Sutra

The Heart Sutra (Prajñapramitahrdaya-sutra )

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva

Further on Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva

On Emptiness (Sunyata )

Instructions to Sariputra

Nature of the Various Dharmas

Nature of Emptiness (Sunyata )

Nature of Ignorance (Avidya )


This clear and elegant translation reveals how a modern Japanese thinker dared to show the basic flaw of Western epistemology. In unmasking this limitation, Matsuo presents an Eastern view of a unified experience, and provides an epistemological basis for comparative philosophy.

Matsuo notes that while early Greek thought began by focusing on the right counsel ("Know thyself"), since then Western thought has been influenced by empiricistic analysis fired by the rise of scientific philosophy. The author thus turns to Eastern epistemology, in particular Buddhist thought, for clues to the unified experience. The seminal idea of emptiness (śūnyatā) plays a distinct role in this discovery. The concept of emptiness encompasses the whole dimension of perception where there is no room for separation into mind and body and/or any other form of dichotomy.

Once it is known that the total dimension of perception—the logic of unity—functions in each and every person, then and only then can the field of comparative thought and philosophy be cleared of al preconceptions and move into a more fruitful exchange of ideas. Until such a time, Matsuo claims, we are hopelessly engaged in merely refining the epistemological process without ever being able to understand the very basis of intelligence.

Kenneth K. Inada is Professor of Philosophy at State University of New York at Buffalo and co-editor of Buddhism and American Thinkers, also published by SUNY Press. Hōsaku Matsuo was a practicing physician and founding member of the Japanese Association of Comparative Philosophy.