Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Berger, Douglas


AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF Benjamin S. Lindsley, for the Masters Degree in Philosophy, presented on APRIL 14, 2016, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: COMPARING CONCEPTIONS OF DOUBT IN ZEN BUDDHISM AND KIERKEGAARD MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Douglas Berger This thesis compares the concept of existential doubt as depicted by Søren Kierkegaard with the concept of existential doubt espoused by Keiji Nishitani in his interpretation of Zen Buddhism in order to ultimately show the conceptual similarities between both traditions’ concepts of negation, reflection, and methods for eliminating doubt. These points of philosophical concurrence will advance the assertion that Divine unity in the Christian tradition and enlightened becoming in the Zen Buddhist tradition both require an existential-doubt-induced annihilation of self-conception, facilitated through a supra-subjective re-orientation, which starts from the standpoint of subjective immediacy and resettles at the ground of absolute nothingness. This explication will serve as a means to guide the existential inquirer through the experience of doubt and offer tangible methods to assuage the maladies which accompany the experience.




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