A book of potential interest

Jonathan Silk kauzeya at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 12 09:05:36 UTC 2012

dear Colleagues,

I have just read a most fascinating book, which may escape attention having
been published in a rather out of the way place.

The book is Urs App's *The Cult of Emptiness: The Western Discovery of
Buddhist Thought and the Invention of Oriental Philosophy*. (ISBN

App traces Western awareness of Buddhist doctrinal ideas to the 16th [sic!]
century, when missionaries encountered Zen Buddhists in Japan, and
demonstrates how over the next few centuries these encounters and others
spawned an awareness of philosophical [doctrinal might be better often
times] systems outside of the European tradition. The story of what indeed
was known and how that knowledge was used and manipulated is absolutely
I have no intention of offering a summary or review here, although the
book, which picks up themes also discussed in App's The Birth of
Orientalism, richly deserves attention. Among other things the careful
archival research demonstrates that what one reads in the works of more
superficial scholars about European awareness of Buddhism (and to a lesser
extent in this book, Hinduism) is in drastic need of revision.
I got my copy from the author, but he directs me to the publisher's site,
UniversityMedia  (www.universitymedia.org).

I should probably note that I have had nothing to do with the production of
this book, that I do not profit from it other than from having gained
knowledge through having read it, and that other than being a friend of the
author I have no stake in its promotion (other than wishing for the wide
spread of its insights).

With cordial regards, Jonathan Silk

J. Silk
Instituut Kern / Universiteit Leiden
Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, LIAS
Johan Huizinga Building, Room 1.37
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
The Netherlands

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