Certain philosophical traditions, such as the Madyhamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism, hold that even the basic laws of thought postulated by Aristotle (see the January 4, 2017 article “The Laws of Thought”) are ultimately incoherent because they imply or suggest that real entities exist when all things one can analyze are in fact empty of intrinsic existence and ever-changing, “existing” only in a process of becoming in relation to prior causes and conditions. One should not make the mistake of believing that all or even most “Eastern” schools of thought reject discursive coherence and internal consistency which lie at the heart of the Aristotelian laws of thought.

Not all “Eastern” schools favor a paradoxical approach. For example, all major traditions of Hindu philosophy and some Chinese traditions like Mohism value discursive coherence and internal consistency. Some traditions that do not value discursive coherence and internal consistency, including the Daoism of Laozi, Zhuangzi, and Liezi (or Daojia), Madhyamaka Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism, should not be seen as philosophies, but as methods for jogging the mind out of its normal modes of cognition based on sensory perception and reason and putting the mind in a state in which gnosis is likely to occur. Based on my experience, these traditions are useful when treated as gnostic methods, but their nonconformity to the laws of thought makes them utterly incapable of making sense of the world. (I write this even though I practice Daojia and Zen Buddhism to the extent that it does not conflict with Daojia.)