hrcak mascot   Srce   HID

Review article

Troubles with ‚nirvâna‘: The End of Thought and the Re-Birth of Speech

Borislav Mikulić

Fulltext: croatian, pdf (133 KB) pages 151-163 downloads: 636* cite
APA 6th Edition
Mikulić, B. (2006). Teškoće s nirvânom: Kraj mišljenja i ponovno rođenje govora. Filozofska istraživanja, 26 (1), 151-163. Retrieved from
MLA 8th Edition
Mikulić, Borislav. "Teškoće s nirvânom: Kraj mišljenja i ponovno rođenje govora." Filozofska istraživanja, vol. 26, no. 1, 2006, pp. 151-163. Accessed 23 Jan. 2020.
Chicago 17th Edition
Mikulić, Borislav. "Teškoće s nirvânom: Kraj mišljenja i ponovno rođenje govora." Filozofska istraživanja 26, no. 1 (2006): 151-163.
Mikulić, B. (2006). 'Teškoće s nirvânom: Kraj mišljenja i ponovno rođenje govora', Filozofska istraživanja, 26(1), pp. 151-163. Available at: (Accessed 23 January 2020)
Mikulić B. Teškoće s nirvânom: Kraj mišljenja i ponovno rođenje govora. Filozofska istraživanja [Internet]. 2006 [cited 2020 January 23];26(1):151-163. Available from:
B. Mikulić, "Teškoće s nirvânom: Kraj mišljenja i ponovno rođenje govora", Filozofska istraživanja, vol.26, no. 1, pp. 151-163, 2006. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 23 January 2020]

Referring to the recent Croatian translation of the four main works on the central conceptions of later Buddhism by the Russian Indologist Theodor (Fyodor) Stcherbatsky, in the first part of the paper the author comments on the relevance of these classical modern studies in Buddhology for the local cultural and academic context, where the early Buddhist philosophy was well represented through the work of Čedomil Veljačić and his students in the 70s and 80s.
The second section gives a brief overview of the main historical, logical, epistemological, and system-building topics in Stcherbatsky’s writings, leading to the pluralistic theory of ‚dhammâ‘ as the mediator and the common ground of all other conceptions. Following Stcherbatsky, the author points to the multivalent sense of this central term, used mostly in the plural, which refers to the ‚ultimate elements‘ of all existing things — both material and spiritual — as well as (if the term is used in its singular form) to the ‚order of things‘ and the discourse on the order of these elementary things. The third section re-examines the discussion led in later Buddhist schools about the paradoxes and controversies issuing from such equivocality of the word ‚dhammâ‘; the paradoxes are, on a deeper level, due to the fact that the term does not refer to a substantially conceived “ultimate reality“, consisting of atom-like ‚elements‘, but represents a self-referring term, aiming at non-substantial, changing, temporary and “fugitive” forms of existing things, including the very teaching about these ultimate realities (sk. dharmânudharma). Based on this background, the final part of the paper (sections 3 and 4) focuses on the concept of nirvâna, itself being a (case of) dhamma.
Calling attention to the structural characteristics of the discourse on nirvâna, the author tries to present new arguments towards the view that nirvâna is not an ultimate reality outside discourse; rather, it figures as a name or a signifier which — largely depending on its very opposite term samsâra — primarily points to the ‚voidness‘ of the very discourse out of which, as a consequence, the discourse of the ‚void‘ (and “fugitive”) absolute emerges.
Based on this line of linguistic argumentation, the author tries to shed light on the structural similarity between the discourse on nirvâna and the well-known liar paradox, aiming at a reasonable explanation of the paradoxical sentence, assigned to Buddha, that “nirvâna is non-nirvanic” (‘anirvânam hi nirvânam’). Though projected as a reality outside discourse, nirvâna turns out to be an unreachable but “real” point of discourse within discourse itself, its transcendental condition of possibility.

Buddhist philosophy; ‚dhammâ‘; "ultimate reality"; paradox; nirvâna; discourse

Hrčak ID: 4600



Visits: 1.112 *