2021-02Thematic Section
Dialectic into Dialogos and the Pragmatics of No-thingness in a Time of Crisis


Nishitani and Neoplatonism both argue that overcoming the nihilism of non-being requires a confrontation with, and cultivation of, the experience of nothingness. This paper argues that the appreciation of nothingness is best realized in the practice of dialectic into dialogos, as adapted from the Socratic tradition. We argue that dialectic equips the self for the confrontation with nihilism, and is best suited to transforming the privative experience of nothingness into a superlative, collective experience of no-thingness. The practice of dialectic into dialogos exapts the nature of the self as a synthesis of being and non-being, and possibility and necessity, in and through its relationship to others, and to its own otherness within self-transcendence. Dialectic into dialogos can thereby become a central philosophical practice for responding to our contemporary meaning crisis by affording a generative process of meaning-making that can lead to personal and cultural transformation and communion within the culture – renewing communitas for new communities.


dialectic, dialogos, nothingness, nihilism, metanoia, parable, koan

How to cite:

Vervaeke, John, and Christopher Mastropietro. “Dialectic into Dialogos and the Pragmatics of No-thingness in a Time of Crisis.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 5, no. 2 (2021):  58-77. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2021.0017.


John Vervaeke
Psychology Department, University of Toronto
100 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3G3, Canada

Christopher Mastropietro


Ahbel-Rappe, Sara. Socratic Ignorance and Platonic Knowledge in the Dialogues of Plato. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2018.

Buber, Martin. I and Thou. Translated by Walter Kaufman. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1973.

Callard, Agnes. Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190639488.001.0001.

Clark, Andy. “Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of cognitive science.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36, no. 3 (2013): 181-204. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X12000477.

Costello, Stephen J. Applied Logotherapy: Viktor Frankl’s Philosophical Psychology. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019.

Evans, Stephen C. Kierkegaard and Spirituality: Accountability as the Meaning of Human Existence. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2019.

Frankfurt, Harry G. On Bullshit. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Fuller, Robert C. Wonder: From Emotion to Spirituality. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006. https://doi.org/10.5149/9780807889909_fuller.

Goffman, Erving. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Penguin Books, 1959.

Grice, H. Paul. “Presupposition and Conversational Implicature.” In Radical Pragmatics, edited by Peter Cole, 167-81. New York: Academic Press, 1981.

Heidegger, Martin. The Question Concerning Technology: and Other Essays. Translated by William Lovitt. New York: Harper Perennial, 2013.

Heraclitus. The Fragments of the Work of Heraclitus of Ephesus on Nature. Translated by G.T.W. Patrick. Baltimore: N. Murray, 1889.

Hohwy, Jakob and John Michael. “Why Should any Body have a Self?” In The Subject’s Matter: Self-Consciousness and the Body, edited by Frederique De Vignemont and Adrian J. T. Alsmith, 363-92. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2017. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/fm4cr.

Hyland, Drew. Finitude and Transcendence in the Platonic Dialogues. New York: State University of New York Press, 1995.

Kierkegaard, Søren. The Sickness unto Death. Translated by Alastair Hannay. London: Penguin Books, 2004.

Mastropietro, Christopher and John Vervaeke. “Diagnosing the Current Age: A Symptomology of the Meaning Crisis.” The Side View 2, no. 1 (2020): 78-93

McFague, Sallie. Speaking in Parables: A Study in Metaphor and Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975. https://www.religion-online.org/book/speaking-in-parables-a-study-in-metaphor-and-theology/.

Nagel, Thomas. The View from Nowhere. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Nishitani, Keiji. Religion and Nothingness. Translated by Jan Van Bragt. Berkley: University of California Press, 1982.

Polanyi, Michael and Harry Prosch. Meaning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.

Porphyry. “Launching Points to the Intelligible.” In Neoplatonic Philosophy: Introductory Readings, edited by John Dillon and Lloyd P. Gerson, 178–94. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2004.

Suzuki, D.T. Mysticism Christian and Buddhist. London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1957.

Tillich, Paul. The Courage to Be. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1952.

Tanabe, Hajime. Philosophy as Metanoetics. Translated by Takeuchi Yoshinori. Berkley: University of California Press, 1986.

Ueda, Shizuteru. “‘Nothingness’ in Meister Eckhart and Zen Buddhism.” In The Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School and its Contemporaries, edited by Frederick Franck, 157–70. New Delhi: Third Eye, 2005.  

Vervaeke, John and Christopher Mastropietro. “Gnosis in the Second Person: Responding to the Meaning Crisis in the Socratic Quest of Authentic Dialogue.” In Dispatches from a Time Between Worlds (forthcoming). Perspectiva Press, 2021.

Vervaeke, John, Christopher Mastropietro, and Filip Miscevic. Zombies in Western Culture: A Twenty-First Century Crisis. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2017. https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0113.

Vygotsky, L.S. Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Edited by Michael Cole, Vera Jolm-Steiner, Sylvia Scribner, and Ellen Souberman. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978.

Open Access Statement:

This is an open access journal which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. This is in accordance with the BOAI definition of open access.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Submitting a text to Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture means that the author agrees with the general conditions of this license. The author does and will maintain copyrights and publishing rights for his/her article without any restrictions.