This article is available at Aeon.com
Buddhist philosophy is full of contradictions. Now modern logic is learning why that might be a good thing.
An abhorrence of contradiction has been high orthodoxy in the West for more than 2,000 years. Statements such as Nagarjuna’s are therefore wont to produce looks of blank incomprehension, or worse. As Avicenna, the father of Medieval Aristotelianism, declared: Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned. One can hear similar sentiments, expressed with comparable ferocity, in many faculty common rooms today. Yet Western philosophers are slowly learning to outgrow their parochialism. And help is coming from a most unexpected direction: modern mathematical logic, not a field that is renowned for its tolerance of obscurity.