This volume collects Jay Garfield 's essays on Madhyamaka, Yogacara, Buddhist ethics and cross-cultural hermeneutics. The first part addresses Madhyamaka, supplementing Garfield 's translation of Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, a foundational philosophical text by the Buddhist saint Nagarjuna. Garfield then considers the work of philosophical rivals, and sheds important light on the relation of Nagarjuna's views to other Buddhist and non-Buddhist philosophical positions.
In recent years, the ontological similarities between the foundations of quantum mechanics and the emptiness teachings in Madhyamika–Prasangika Buddhism of the Tibetan lineage have attracted some attention. After briefly reviewing this unlikely connection, I examine ideas encountered in condensed-matter physics that resonate with this view on emptiness. Focusing on the particle concept and emergence in condensed-matter physics, I highlight a qualitative correspondence to the major analytical approaches to emptiness.
The Indian philosopher Acarya Nagarjuna (c. 150-250 CE) was the founder of the Madhyamaka (Middle Path) school of Mahayana Buddhism and arguably the most influential Buddhist thinker after Buddha himself. Indeed, in the Tibetan and East Asian traditions, Nagarjuna is often referred to as the "second Buddha." This book presents a survey of the whole of Nagarjuna's philosophy based on his key philosophical writings. His primary contribution to Buddhist thought lies in the further development of the concept of sunyata or (...) "emptiness." For Nagarjuna, all phenomena are without any svabhava, literally "own-nature" or "self-nature," and thus without any underlying substance. Particular emphasis is put on discussing Nagarjuna's thinking as philosophy. The present discussion shows how his thoughts on metaphysics, epistemology, the self, language, and truth present a unified theory of reality with considerable systematic appeal. The book offers a systematic account of Nagarjuna's philosophical position. It reads Nagarjuna in his own philosophical context, but also shows that the issues of Indian and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy have at least family resemblances to issues in European philosophy. (shrink)
Watsuji Tetsurô is famous for having constructed a systematic socio-political ethics on the basis of the idea of emptiness. This essay examines his 1938 essay “The Concept of ‘Dharma’ and the Dialectics of Emptiness in Buddhist Philosophy” and the posthumously published The History of Buddhist Ethical Thought, in order to clarify the Buddhist roots of his ethics. It aims to answer two main questions which are fundamentally linked: “Which way does Watsuji's legacy turn: toward totalitarianism or toward a balanced theory (...) of selflessness?” and “Is Watsuji's systematic ethics Buddhist?” In order to answer these questions, this essay discusses Watsuji's view of dharma, dependent arising, and morality in Hīnayāna Buddhism. It then proceeds to Watsuji's fine-tuning of the concept of emptiness in Mādhyamika and Yogācāra Buddhism. Finally, this essay shows how Watsuji's modernist Buddhist theory connects to his own systematic ethical theory. These two theories share a focus on non-duality, negation, and emptiness. But they differ in their accounts of the relations between the individual and the community, between the “is” and the “ought,” and between hermeneutics and transcendence. These findings give us hints as to Watsuji's origins, pitfalls, and possibilities. (shrink)
Emptiness means that all entities are empty of, or lack, inherent existence - entities have a merely conceptual, constructed existence. Though Nagarjuna advocates the Middle Way, his philosophy of emptiness nevertheless entails nihilism, and his critiques of the Nyaya theory of knowledge are shown to be unconvincing.
From the contention that no worldview can be both consistent and complete is derived the insight that a worldview is contextually dependent on past worldviews that it both transcends and includes. Mādhyamika Buddhism illustrates the deconstructive aspect of this thesis--namely, that worldviews claiming completeness or independence are inconsistent. Process philosophy, on the other hand, is a theory that describes reality as the ongoing process of asymmetrical transcendence and inclusion of worldviews as perspectival events. It is argued that both Mādhyamika and (...) process philosophies can be used to formulate a trans-cultural theory of worldviews that is both classificatory and evaluative. (shrink)