The Hegemonic Power of Categories & Rhetoric, or Why Bother? by Richard K. Payne

Richard K. Payne

Hegemony is an understandably popular term these days—and remains important despite the potential for its overuse to the point of irrelevance. It refers, as I understand it, to the ability of certain ideas to be accepted as natural, and thereby to be invisible in their control of thinking. So much so that one is effectively a willing participant in the propagation of the systems of thought that dominate one’s thinking.  (This is my own narrow focus of the much broader theorizing of Antonio Gramsci.)

“Religion” is just one such concept, and it continues to play an unconscious role in forming present-day ideas about Buddhism. One important way is in the oppositional pairing of religious and secular. Under this dichotomy, if one critiques Secular Buddhism (itself a different project from criticizing it, though some of its adherents don’t seem to recognize that difference), then the presumption is that one is in…

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