Debating the Buddhist concept of sunyata is a dead-end road. The term itself is not agreed upon, and can mean more or less what a given person wants it to mean. And because this is so, I say, one has to be careful to analyse and make decisions about the way this idea is used. Because the idea is connected with cogent ideas about phenomena and the mutability of all things, it is not 'untrue'. Still, Buddhists (or some Buddhist schools) have a way of holding to and asserting a non-coditioned thing: Buddha-nature. And this becomes a kind of insider's game. What is 'Buddha-nature' and who can 'know' it? Only participants in the system of thought, in the handling of definitions, etc.
Once a person has mastered the list of Talking Points:
it exists dependant on conceptual designation
they do not exist independantly of the theory
values are imputed on a base that is really pieces/parts and the pieces/parts have pieces/parts.
values are there conventionally and not ultimately.
human meaning making
values are dependant on verbal and conceptual designation
constructed out of nothing
They have a stock 'answer' that can be thrown up in the face of literally anything: any statement, any value, any idea. I call this sort of stance 'the ultimate arbiter's position'. It is deeply attractive to a mediocre mind who cannot and will not step beyond it or resist its pull. You cannot speak against it, you cannot defeat it or prove it wrong, because in certain senses it is an expression of truth.
But a non-inherant thing (I use the word 'thing' in the loosest sense and as a language convention) really does seem to need an immutable thing, and this is offered up in some schools of Buddhism as the Buddha or 'Buddha-nature'.
In my own way of seeing things, that is in accord with my 'thinking system', I do not disagree with the understanding of emptiness of mutability or transitoriness, nor is such a meditation denied. But tese ideas, if handled badly (and I say you handle them terribly, almost perversely, but I also think that 'they' really are handling you and you are the victim of them), undermine value and meaning through a devious mental trick, where the 'trick' becomes the dominant agent. So, instead of leading to sobriety and clarity (of ideation or purpose or conduct) it rather acts as an acid against establsihed value, definition. It is also a sort of cop-out it seems to me, and as it is stated with this: 'values are there conventionally and not ultimately' and 'human meaning making values are dependant on verbal and conceptual designation
constructed out of nothing' I think a potentially drastic mistake is made. At this point it is not Buddhism or even neo-Buddhism but rather Western nihilism in drag. It is a conflation of 2 different systems of thinking, for very different reasons.
I think of value
in this way: Just as plants and organic systems arise within this sphere, and as such arising cannot be said to be 'random' as it is normally understood, but processes and events and occurances that are part-and-parcel of the manifestation itself (things 'flowing into their form' as the Chinese express it), similarly values and also meaning naturally arises within the context and is part-and-parcel of it. It seems likely and probable that, in any other part of the manifestations, that there too arise 'value' and 'meaning', and that they likely share commonality with ours, just as ours (within our terrestrial system) share commonality one with another. There is certainly the element of 'invention' (in value-systems) but not in the way that you (Dennis) have twisted it. If it were made up like that, it could just as well be any other value. So, the notion of value (and Value itself) is not 'inherantly void' but rather relationally differentiated---and there is a great difference between this designation and yours.
You have a marked tendency, Dennis, to twist your definitions to suit your proclaimed or cherished values. For if you really carried those definitions to their 'logical conclusions' you would have no ground at all to stand on. None. There could be no conversation, no argument, no differing of opinion. I think you would almost have to dissolve away into 'emptiness'! Into nothingness!
The absurdity, of course, is in how very much you are here
. This is what I mean by 'contradiction'.