Averting Arguments: Nagarjuna’s Verse 29

The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 24:70-73 (1998)
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Abstract

I examine Nagarjuna’s averting an opponent’s argument, Paul Sagal’s general interpretation of Nagarjuna and especially Sagal’s conception of "averting" an argument. Following Matilal, a distinction is drawn between locutionary negation and illocationary negation in order to avoid errant interpretations of verse 29 The argument is treated as representing an ampliative or inductive inference rather than a deductive one. As Nagarjuna says in verse 30: "That [denial] of mine [in verse 29] is a non-apprehension of non-things" and non-apprehension is the averting of arguments or "the relinquishing of all views." "Not making a proposition P" would be not speaking P or silence with regard to P and, as Sagal argues, not meaning a global linguistic silence. Such an interpretation would lead to attributing wholesale irrationalism to Nagarjuna-something I wish to avoid.

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