Journal of Indian Philosophy 47 (4):727-747 (2019)

In the following, it will be argued that Nāgārjuna adopts a Buddhist nominalism that encompasses not only a position towards abstract entities, but resonates with a nominalist perspective on the “social reality” of persons. Early Buddhist texts, such as the Suttanipāta, argue that human persons defy a classification in hierarchic “classes”, because there is no moral substance, e.g. of Brahmins. Differences between individuals do not exist by nature, since it is the individual that realizes difference according to the specific personal realization of action and moral cultivation. Buddhist “nominalism,” therefore, has at least one of its central roots in a rejection of a socially privileged “selves,” a stratified social hegemony, and religious truth claims. Nāgārjuna, on his part, radicalizes nominalism as a threefold correlation of the “non-articulated self,” a “non-articulated” reality, and finally, a “non-articulated” dimension even within all concepts, names, and designations. In this vein, Nāgārjuna’s śūnyavāda can be seen as a consequent attempt to neutralize unwanted social and psychological consequences of ontological language-use. Nāgārjuna even self-critically questions the position that the workings of a Buddhist path of liberation can be articulated, which seems to be a remarkable parallel to certain roots of Western nominalism.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10781-019-09398-x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,343
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Acquiring Emptiness: Interpreting Nāgārjuna's Mmk 24:18.Douglas L. Berger - 2010 - Philosophy East and West 60 (1):pp. 40-64.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Nāgārjuna.Jan Christoph Westerhoff - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Philosophy of Nāgārjuna.Vicente Fatone - 1981 - Motilal Banarsidass.
Introduction.Michael Jerryson - 2016 - Journal of Religion and Violence 4 (2):119-127.
Nāgārjuna and the Doctrine of "Skillful Means".John Schroeder - 2000 - Philosophy East and West 50 (4):559-583.
Nagarjuna and the Doctrine of "Skillful Means&Quot.John Schroeder - 2000 - Philosophy East and West 50 (4):559-583.


Added to PP index

Total views
25 ( #434,515 of 2,445,384 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #457,131 of 2,445,384 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes