Comparative Philosophy 7 (2):44-66 (2016)
AbstractWhile the contemporary problem of the criterion raises similar epistemological issues as Agrippa’s Trilemma in ancient Pyrrhonian skepticism, the consideration of such epistemological questions has served two different purposes. On one hand, there is the purely practical purpose of Pyrrhonism, in which such questions are a means to reach suspension of judgment, and on the other hand, there is the theoretical purpose of contemporary epistemologists, in which these issues raise theoretical problems that drive the search for theoretical resolution. In classical India, similar issues arise in Nāgārjuna’s Vigrahavyāvartanī, but it is not entirely clear what Nāgārjuna’s purpose is. Contrary to the theoretical interpretations of several recent scholars such as Jan Westerhoff according to which Nāgārjuna is proffering a contextualist epistemological theory, I argue that Nāgārjuna as well as the later Madhyamaka Candrakīrti, much like Pyrrhonian skeptics, employed concerns about epistemic criteria in service of purely practical purposes. There is no positive epistemological theory to be found in Nāgārjuna’s Vigrahavyāvartanī and Candrakīrti’s Prasannapadā; furthermore a putative thesis of universal emptiness is self-undermining, a conclusion which itself can be seen as part of a therapeutic program. Nonetheless, the historical persistence of these epistemological issues shows that they ought to continue to be areas of theoretical inquiry for epistemologists today. I end with reflections on the wider relevance of my conclusions, particularly with regard to demonstrating the value of philosophy.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
References found in this work
The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics.Martha C. Nussbaum (ed.) - 2009 - Princeton University Press.
Perception: An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge.Bimal Krishna Matilal - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work
‘Snakes and Ladders’ – ‘Therapy’ as Liberation in Nagarjuna and Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.Joshua William Smith - 2021 - Sophia 60 (2):411-430.
Nāgārjuna’s Scepticism About Philosophy.Ethan A. Mills - 2020 - In Oren Hanner (ed.), Buddhism and Scepticism: Historical, Philosophical, and Comparative Perspectives. Freiburg/Bochum: pp. 55-81.
Taking Skepticism Seriously: How the Zhuang-Zi Can Inform Contemporary Epistemology.Chung Julianne - 2017 - Comparative Philosophy 8 (2):3-29.
Similar books and articles
The Dispeller of Disputes: Nāgārjuna's Vigrahavyāvartanī.Jan Westerhoff - 2010 - Oup Usa.
Turning a Madhyamaka Trick: Reply to Huntington. [REVIEW]Jay L. Garfield - 2008 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 36 (4):507-527.
The Commitments of a Madhyamaka Trickster: Innovation in Candrakīrti’s Prasanna-Padā. [REVIEW]Eviatar Shulman - 2010 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 38 (4):379-417.
Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction.Jan Westerhoff - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Nagarjuna's Unsurpassed Medicine: Emptiness and the Doctrine of Upaya.John William Schroeder - 1996 - Dissertation, University of Oregon
Authority in Early Prāsaṅgika Madhyamaka.Kevin Vose - 2010 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 38 (6):553-582.
Nāgārjuna’s Arguments on Motion Revisited.Jan Westerhoff - 2008 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 36 (4):455-479.
Analysis of Going and Coming the Second Chapter of Candrakirti's Clear Words, a Commentary on Nagarjuna's Treatise on the Middle Way.Jeffrey Candrakirti & Hopkins - 1974 - Library of Tibetan Works & Archives.
Contemporary Responses to Agrippa's Trilemma.Peter Klein - 2008 - In John Greco (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford University Press.
The Positionless Middle Way: Weak Philosophical Deflationism in Madhyamaka.Stefano Gandolfo - 2016 - Journal of Indian Philosophy 44 (2):207-228.
Krytyka dialektycznej interpretacji filozofii Nagardżuny.Szymon Bogacz - 2014 - Diametros 42:227-246.
The No-Thesis View: Making Sense of Verse 29 of Nagarjuna's Vigrahavyavartani.Jan Westerhoff - 2009 - In Mario D'Amato, Jay L. Garfield & Tom J. F. Tillemans (eds.), Pointing at the Moon: Buddhism, Logic, Analytic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
Kārya and Kāraṇa in Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikās.Krishna Del Toso - 2007 - AION 67:137-156.