Richard Marshall interviews Nicolas Bommarito in 3:AM Magazine:
3:AM: You’re interested in Buddhist philosophy. Owen Flanagan has three different styles working across the border of western and Buddhist philosophy: a comparative approach; a fusion approach ( where we try a unify them) and a cosmopolitan one (where we are ironically poised to accept whichever comes through as best). Do any of these help capture your own perspective on what you’re about?
NB: Of the options, I suppose I’m closest to the cosmopolitan approach (though I’m not sure I’d describe myself as ‘ironically’ positioned). I see my interaction with Buddhist philosophy in the same way I think of my interaction with people I know. When I meet a philosopher that I respect, I’m not interested in just comparing our ideas and I’m not really out to develop some fusion of our views. I’m going to listen to them and think about what they say. I won’t accept everything they argue, but they’ll likely show me things I’ve not really worked out or things I didn’t see before. I relate to Buddhist philosophy in the same way.
3:AM: You’ve written about Tibetan philosophy. Although Plato has Apollo and Descartes God its kind of easy to be philosophically interested in their work without any theological or mythical commitments. Is it the same with the religious content of Buddhism? It seems to be more tightly wrapped to religion.
NB: One wrinkle here is that it’s often hard to tell what counts as “religious content” – You suggested Apollo for Plato, but does his belief in The Forms count as religious? How about his belief in reincarnation or the immortality of the soul? Lots of Buddhists so dislike the idea of theological or mythical commitments that they don’t even like to call Buddhism a religion at all.