Two Investigations on the Madhyamakakārikās and the Vigrahavyāvartanī

Journal of Indian Philosophy 39 (3):245-325 (2011)

Purpose of the article is to provide support for the contention that two fundamental treatises representing the teaching of Madhyamaka, viz. the Mūlamadhyamakakārikās and the Vigrahavyāvartanī, were designed to establish and justify a metaphysical tenet claiming that no particulars of any kind can exist on some level of final analysis and that this was the only primary concern of those works. Whereas the former text is in the first place dedicated to providing proofs of the central metaphysical thesis the major objective of the second treatise lies in a defense of the claim against possible objections. A correlate of this view regarding the content of those two works is on the one hand that the philosophy of the founder of the Madhyamaka-school essentially consists in a metaphysical teaching implying a radical rejection of a stance propagated in earlier Buddhist schools according to which objects of ordinary experience could be reduced to or explained by the existence of other sorts of particulars that can be theoretically postulated. On the other hand the exegesis advocated in the article implies that theorems pertaining to the nature of language or the relationship between language and non-linguistic reality are not at all a predominant issue in the pertinent texts and presumably were not a major matter of concern of early Madhyamaka in general. Accordingly matters pertaining to questions of semantics attain relevance at best in the form of objective consequences which the metaphysical doctrine might entail. The paper focuses on the second chapter of the Mūlamadhyamakakārikās as well as the segment of the Vigrahavyāvartanī which deals with the first major problem, represented by the verses 1–4 and 21–29. The reason is that a detailed and thoroughgoing investigation of these two textual passages is suited to disprove a contention voiced by Western scholars who suppose that the teaching of the founder of Madhyamaka embodies a particular claim pertaining to the relationship between language and non-linguistic reality
Keywords Madhyamaka  Metaphysics  History of philosophy  Textual exegesis
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DOI 10.1007/s10781-010-9123-7
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