Shelled: Evocations of a ghostly ethics
This paper is an attempt to show that there is the possibility of non-substantialist ethics. Huayan Buddhism and Derridean deconstruction are examples of nonsubstantalist ontologies, each containing aspects that are useful in reinventing the very idea of the ethical. Section one of my paper focuses on Derrida's deconstruction, specifically his later political works. Section two focuses on Huayan and the journey of Sudhana in the Avatamsaka Sutra, as he traverses the way of enlightenment. This figure of the bodhisattva embodies living within this non-substantialist ontology, and also parallels the structure of Derrida's claims. The third section uses both ontologies to argue for a revision of our conception of ethics. One way to do this lies in the idea of heuristics. These are guides to navigating reality, of which the bodhisattva is an embodied example. As belief in old models of identity become obsolete, these ontologies represent the new, necessary, paradigm.